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When Juan Smit and his wife Nadia realised that there were no daycare facilities in the East Rand area catering for children with special needs they knew that the only way to help their own child and many others in similar situations would be to found a centrally located facility of their own.

Juan and Nadia registered Little Miracles Therapy Centre & Day Care as a non-profit organisation and also registered the centre with Sars as a Public Benefit Organisation because it receives its funding from the private sector. This means that companies who donate to the NPO are issued with a Section 18A receipt and can claim up to 10% of their taxable income.

They settled on Boksburg as the location for the Little Miracles centre because they could cater to a number of surrounding areas including Springs, Brakpan, Benoni, Germiston and Kempton Park. The aim is for the centre to have between 20 and 30 children in its care daily.

The centre accepts children from 3 months to 6 years with varying intellectual, physical and developmental disabilities or delays who are not accepted at public or mainstream schools, as well as premature babies or any children in need of additional stimulation or early intervention.

"We understand that each child is different and we strive to assist them in getting ready - at their own pace - for mainstream schooling wherever possible, but we will always be a safe haven for those who cannot attend school," says Smit.

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The facility has been altered to accommodate children with various disabilities and made wheelchair, walker and buggy friendly. Living areas and outside buildings have been converted into classrooms and one teacher and one facilitator have been employed for every ten children, making the staff-child ratio 5:1. 

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The daycare centre is just the first phase of the NPO's plan. "We aim to establish a fully functioning therapy centre which not only caters for the children in our school/daycare but to be open to the public so that any individual can receive treatment at our premises," says Smit. There are also plans to expand the school to accommodate older children and a host of on-site specialists and therapists.

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Little Miracles also donates custom wheelchairs to children in need. Each child is measured and has their individual needs assessed in order to provide them with a wheelchair which meets their specific requirements. The cost of the wheelchair is roughly R4 000 each but differs according to the individual needs of each child. Companies who sponsor wheelchairs through Little Miracles have their logo placed on the back of the wheelchair.

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To date, Little Miracles has already donated around 30 custom wheelchairs to children with special needs in Gauteng.

To find out more about the centre or make a donation contact Juan at 083665 2255. Email: [email protected]/[email protected]

IOL