Bloom - Special Needs Centre
When Occupational Therapist, Nicola Stirton, began treating Eric & Carolyn Hardy’s daughter, Bella Rose Hardy, in 2011, she recognised the need for a special needs school in the area. Bella was diagnosed with Down Syndrome at a day old, and needed a space where she could develop her potential, at her own pace and with her individual interests in mind.
One evening, Nicola felt the still, small voice of God’s Holy Spirit urging her to take action, and so she approached Eric and Carolyn, with her vision; which was to soon become Bloom Special Needs Centre. In 2013 they began to explore various options; consequently setting up meetings with local schools and parents within the area in order to establish remedial and special needs requirements. It was decided that the call on their hearts was to provide a medium to long-term special needs school.
In January 2014, the team took the leap of faith that started the Bloom journey, and Bloom Centre opened, as a Non-Profit Organisation, in Ballito, to accommodate five exceptional children and their families. This was a year of rapid learning around various special needs approaches and programmes, staffing needs, the impact that sensory stimuli has on each child; but most importantly, the necessity of providing a safe and secure environment for each of these children to learn and develop within. Bloom Centre’s vision was to create such a space.
At the end of 2014 an opportunity arose to move the school onto the beautiful grounds of Eden Village in Salt Rock. In this new location, many doors of opportunity opened. In particular, community members came around them and offered invaluable support, in the form of equipment, tools, labour and most importantly their time. Their support continues as more playgrounds and facilities have been added to existing structures. Fundraising events are well-supported, which continue to provide both financial support and the spreading of special needs awareness.
The first addition was the incorporation of a small mainstream pre-primary school: Kingdom Kids. Founder of Kingdom Kids, Kimber Gould, and Nicola had often spoken about integrating main stream and special needs learners into the same environment, and this dream finally became a possibility in 2015. Shortly thereafter, the school had 8 special needs learners and 6 mainstream learners who, together, create inspiring learning opportunities. This arrangement has continued to grow from strength to strength over the years.
Since then we have grown and developed into a fully operational school. Bloom Centre has started 2019 with 3 fully functional classrooms, which comprise of 20 special needs learners. Kingdom Kids has 9 children with a capacity for 15. Our team consists of therapists, teachers, teacher assistants and facilitators. They participate in regular training events, which enables them to do their jobs with excellence, thus realising their passion to see each child’s potential released.
Our dreams for the future involve development of the school alongside the individual needs of our oldest children, which includes both the mainstream children and those with special needs. There are many forms that this can take, though a focus on vocational skills and future employment is central. We are excited to see what plans and purposes God has in mind for this unique, blessed organisation.
Kimber Gould (Principal)
tel: 032 815 2701