‘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.
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