Association for Children with Emotional & Learning Problems (ACELP)
ACELP was begun in 1974, by Mrs. Mehr Hassan, with her own funds and operating from rented premises. Today, the school has expanded to 4000 sq ft premises along with a new gym facility and serves over 120 children from all socio-economic backgrounds. This means that any family with a physically or mentally disabled child can send its child to the school. For those not able to afford to pay the fees, the school finds a sponsor for the child to be able to attend school.
The school is equipped with physical therapists, psychologists and certified teachers as well as staff physicians. Children are first evaluated and then placed in a capability appropriate classroom, i.e., one that best fits their developmental level.
If a child cannot be educated due to his or her psychological condition, the school provides vocational training as a means to help the child gain independence in his or her life. Such training includes skills such as carpentry, weaving, sewing and typing. Shuttle buses are available to transport those children who would otherwise not be able to get to school.
The school works with educating children in a new way, using pictures, and colours, and even musical instruments to make learning a creative and fun process. The children are taught independence and self-worth and are given skills that they can use for their life after they graduate.
Equally important is the school’s role in helping the parents of the child. Many parents don’t understand the best way to take care of a disabled or disadvantaged child. From fear of upsetting the child or in order to avoid temper tantrums, many parents and grandparents tend to spoil the child or avoid any discipline. The trained psychologists and psychotherapists at ACELP help guide the parents in terms of the best way to help their child progress both on a practical level as well as in terms of education. The school’s mission, through the various programs, is development of each individual towards maximum independence.
In a city like Karachi, where disabled children are more often than not neglected and not found to be worthy of an education, ACELP has made it its mission to break the societal conventions and help as many disabled children as it can.