Emirates Airline Foundation supports expansion of special needs centre

Donations from passengers to help build new facility for Safe Centre for Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome

Staff Report
15:27 June 13, 2017

Dubai: Donations from Emirates airline’s passengers are going to help fund the construction of a new building for Safe Centre for Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome, it was announced.

This initiative, spearheaded by the Emirates Airline Foundation under the UAE’s Year of Giving campaign, will see a new state-of-the-art 20,000-square-foot facility come up that will boost Safe Centre’s capacity from just over 40 children to accommodate and support 100 additional children in need of special education services.

Safe Centre, a not-for-profit special education centre in the UAE that caters for students who struggle with behavioral or developmental difficulties, is slated to move into the new facility when it is completed in the fall of 2018.

Children are at the core of the Emirates Airline Foundation’s philanthropic work and, through its support of the Safe Centre for Autism, it aims to help open the doors of opportunity for children with special needs in the UAE.

“The Emirates Airline Foundation is supported by the generous donations of our passengers and we are proud to be able to fund the building of this new facility for Safe Centre,” said Sir Tim Clark, president of Emirates airline and chairman of the Emirates Airline Foundation.

“Since its inception, the centre has been providing important education opportunities tailored to children with special needs, and we hope that the new facility will continue to be a valuable resource in the UAE for children on the autism spectrum and their families,” he added.

The design of the new facility accommodates more comprehensive programmes for children on the autism spectrum with a focus on communication, interaction, behaviours and responses, social competencies and sensory processing.

The planned facility will house 12 additional classrooms which include spacious backyards, a playground and quiet rooms, speech therapy rooms, occupational therapy rooms, a sensory room equipped with leisure facilities, art and music rooms, a vocational service room, a swimming pool, besides an indoor and outdoor play area. This is in addition to two new dining areas, meeting rooms and a library.

Mahbouba Yousuf, managing director of Safe Centre for Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome, said Emirates Airline Foundation has been a generous in its support for the centre since its opening in 2010.

“We are grateful for the Foundation’s significant contribution for the construction of our new facilities. This will enable us to take additional staff and ensure our centre has a sustainable future in providing quality treatment and education for even more children, and help make a difference as they grow into adulthood,” Yousuf added.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), one in 160 children have an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and there is an acute need to support young people with ASD and identify their challenges as they transition into adulthood.