The story of Vasco Special Needs Centre begins around 2015. My wife, Rosalie and I, had to start looking for suitable placement for our son, Jared, once he finished school at Vera School for Autistic learners based in Rondebosch.
We enquired at a number of facilities based in the immediate Cape Town area. We were not convinced that any of the available facilities would be able to cater for Jared’s needs.
We kept on asking ourselves why nobody was doing anything about establishing a facility that would be able to keep young special needs adults busy , like Jared, in a constructive manner and whereby they would be able to give back to society. Such a facility would need to be affordable as well.
After a few weeks it finally dawned on us, that if no-one is doing anything about the type of facility we had in mind, that we would need to take the lead in such an establishment.
We advertised our idea and arranged a meeting inviting parents to attend to discuss our idea. Unfortunately, most of the people attending seemed to have had their own agenda and the idea did not take off.
I spoke to Jared’s classroom assistant, Loretta, at Vera School and expressed my disappointment to her in the fact that our idea might not become a reality. Her words to me was simple: “ Not in your time, but in God’s time, what is meant to happen will happen!”
In 2016 we revisited our idea and we invited parents of Jared’s bus buddies to attend our first Saturday workshop, based at the Lutheran Church Hall in Vasco Estate, on Saturday 5 March 2016. We had a good attendance on that day. We spent the morning mixing and packaging lavender and rooibos fragranced bath salts. The parents were impressed and the young adults enjoyed themselves on the day. We agreed that we would have regular monthly Saturday workshops and we also had the idea to have a school holiday programme whereby all these young adults, who all were still at school during 2016, would attend. The September 2016 school holidays was our official trail run to see if our idea would actually work. It must be remembered that we had a good mix of special needs young adults that each had their own behavioral challenges. The trail run was a success and we entered into discussion with the parents to establish a full time facility as from 2017. The parents of the young adults that had been attending our Saturday workshops agreed that they would support the Centre.
I started attending various community markets whereby I sold the bath salts that was made at the Centre. At the same time the awareness about our cause was advertised. We entered into discussion with the Lutheran Church and they agreed to let us lease the church hall at Vasco for an initial period of 5 years. The church also agreed to help us secure some funding on an annual basis to cover some of our operational expenses.
9 January 2017 was our big day! We opened our doors on a full time basis.
Since then we have had 2 successful Gala Fundraising Events, attended more community markets that we can remember. We have made so many friends and acquaintances and have created the awareness of the plight of special needs young adults. Every young adult that attended the Centre and will attend in the future is an important part of the Vasco Special Needs Centre “family”.
Pieter, Rosalie, Jared and Matthew Schoeman