‘Raising Am­ber’ brings new hope to dis­abled


DRIVEN by her in­abil­ity to find a suit­able school for her daugh­ter, sin­gle mum Christal van der Byl founded the Raising Am­ber Foun­da­tion.

This was the cul­mi­na­tion of a dream to open a school that of­fers a main­stream cur­ricu­lum for dis­abled chil­dren in East Lon­don. Am­ber, 15, has athetoid quad­ri­plegic cere­bral palsy. The con­di­tion af­fects her cen­tral ner­vous sys­tem and, as a re­sult, has phys­i­cally im­paired her speech, along with her fine mo­tor skills.

That aside, how­ever, she is your typ­i­cal 15-year- old teenager. She has taught her­self to use her feet to paint, type, and write.

“I founded the foun­da­tion because of all the nec­es­sary equip­ment that Am­ber would need,” Van der Byl said.

She named the foun­da­tion Raising Am­ber as her child’s needed change as she grew older.

Van der Byl said the foun­da­tion had as its aim to build a school for the dis­abled due to a lack of fa­cil­i­ties that specif­i­cally catered for the dis­abled in East Lon­don.

“There are many cen­tres that look after kids dur­ing the day, but noth­ing that ed­u­cated them like in a real school en­vi­ron­ment.

“I moved to Cape Town with Am­ber to get her into a main­stream school. “How­ever, I be­came un­em­ployed while I was there and had to move back. I have been work­ing to­wards open­ing a school that ac­com­mo­dates dis­abled chil­dren ever since,” she said.

She said that the school will help raise aware­ness that, although those who were born with dis­abil­i­ties were dif­fer­ent, they should be treated equally in our so­ci­ety.

“We are aim­ing at start­ing off as a cen­tre that ed­u­cates peo­ple of all ages and then grad­u­ally work our­selves up to hav­ing class­rooms – from Grade 1 and so forth. We would also like to get a sports pro­gramme go­ing to al­low our kids to par­tic­i­pate in sports like other chil­dren,” Van der Byl said.

The foun­da­tion has do­nated cloth­ing, pro­vided Easter and Christ­mas ham­pers and as­sisted par­ents of chil­dren with dis­abil­i­ties.

“With all the pos­i­tive feed­back we have re­ceived, we have been able to as­sist oth­ers with dis­abil­i­ties to show the dis­abled, that there is only “able” in “dis­abled” and that they too can live nor­mal lives,” Van der Byl said.

Pic­ture: SUP­PLIED

IN­SPIR­ING HOPE: Am­ber Van der Byl, who has cere­bral palsy, is the in­spi­ra­tion be­hind her mother’s suc­cess in open­ing a school that of­fers a main­stream cur­ricu­lum for dis­abled chil­dren in East Lon­don

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