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UAE: Inside a village of ‘real life’ for children of determination

James Jose /Dubai
james@khaleejtimes.com Filed on August 23, 2021

Photo by Rahul Gajjar/Khaleej Times

Photo by Rahul Gajjar/Khaleej Times

Photo by Rahul Gajjar/Khaleej Times

Photo by Rahul Gajjar/Khaleej Times

Photo by Rahul Gajjar/Khaleej Times

Photo by Rahul Gajjar/Khaleej Times

Inside Sanad Village, around 60 therapists and 70 caregivers train students in a safe environment with a variety of amenities.


The Sanad Village in Dubai is brimming with dreams. One student strums his guitar, saying he wants to be a musician someday. One girl in the corner loves to paint, while another recycles things to create art. There’s also a pupil who’s into cycling, and another who dreams of becoming a cop.

The village — one of the region’s largest centres for people of determination — guides them through the ‘real world’ and teaches them the life skills they need to achieve their dreams.

Situated in the Sustainable City on Al Qudra Road, the sprawling centre houses mock-ups of ‘real-world’ facilities, like an airport, a mall, a clinic, a police station, a kitchen, a toy store, a flower shop and more. These simulations allow kids to experience everyday life situations, equipping them with skills so they can confidently go out and join the world.

“It is one of the biggest facilities for people of determination in the Middle East, and the regional centre has all the available therapies for children with determination,” Mahmoud Abdelrahim Mahmoud, programme director for early intervention, told Khaleej Times.

Inside Sanad Village, around 60 therapists and 70 caregivers train students in a safe environment with a variety of amenities.

The centre, which opened its doors two years ago, caters to students in different age groups: Six months to eight years, nine years to 13 years, and 14 years and above.

It has classrooms with assistive technology; therapy rooms; residential areas; a sensory-adapted movie theatre; and learning spaces, such as a library and areas for music, art, woodwork, pottery and indoor and outdoor exercise.

“We have applied behaviour analysis, we have professional therapy, speech therapy, physiotherapy, psychology, all those therapies are available in a very harmonious way to serve the children,” said Mahmoud.

Some students live inside the village and are provided care 24/7. They have personalised rooms with wheelchair access.

“We want our students to be happy, we want them to feel that they are home. We customise the room to fit their tastes and liking, with all the toys and games that they like. And the students are monitored by caregivers.”

Around 100 students attend therapies for four hours a day, six hours a day, or eight hours a day. There are also those who come only for specific therapies for an hour or two every week.

“We don’t expect a student to stay in the centre for a very long time. We expect them to move to a mainstream school as soon as possible. We help them get the right set of skills to be able to work independently in workplaces. We want them to be independent and lead a healthy and independent life,” said Mahmoud.

With the therapies and experience it offers, Sanad will in fact see some of its students join big schools in September.

“These are our success stories and we are glad that we have been able to help them. It is the main reason why Sanad exists,” Mahmoud said.

How kids learn life skills at Sanad Village

>> Students get all therapies in a classroom setting (with a group) and one-to-one sessions

>> Through these classes, they learn basic core skills

>> Once they are ready, they are taken to mock-up areas (an airport, a mall, a clinic, a police station, a kitchen, a toy store, a flower shop, etc)

>> In these areas, they get to practise the skills they learnt in real-life situations

james@khaleejtimes.com

James Jose





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