Most African families of children with autism and other special needs, living in the United States, may experience the same stigmas as those in Sierra Leone. When it comes to support from the community, these families are left to deal with the stress of finding the best services for their loved ones. Some may decide to keep their children away from the community, for fear of negative response, or exclusion from gatherings.
In most African communities, the burden of caring for these individuals lies on the mother, which can cause immense stress. Junior’s Place of Hope (JPOH), will offer support, by helping to find the best programs available in their states, and assist them in completing forms, going over medication, and help seek other avenues to get the information and help they need.
JPOH is a day program facility in Sierra Leone that offers individuals with autism and other special needs, a secure, protected, and inclusive environment that promotes independence.
We will offer the following services:
In Sierra Leone, most individuals with special needs cannot afford a daily balanced, healthy meal. You may see them roaming the streets and begging for food. Because of this, JPOH will be providing healthy and balanced meals that include whole grains, vegetables and fruits, for breakfast and lunch, and will also provide two daily snacks. Some of these individuals are unable to feed themselves, and this can lead to malnutrition, and poor health. To help combat this, JPOH will assist with feeding, appropriate use of utensils, and proper hand washing before eating, and after using the bathroom.
Assistance with activities of daily living
Sierra Leone has a high rate of Typhoid. Typhoid is transmitted by ingesting contaminated food or drinks. JPOH will make sure our clients are taught proper hand washing techniques, and good personal hygiene, including bathing, brushing their teeth, and wearing clean clothes. We will also teach them to identity clean versus unclean food, and to recognize clean drinks, not just by their looks, but by their source. Our clients will receive grooming assistance from barbers and hairstylists, who will come to the center to provide services bi-weekly.
We will hold music and dancing competitions, go on field trips, play games and sports, and have birthday and holiday parties. We will show weekly movies and play Bingo with snacks provided. We will also have monthly social nights, where clients can socialize with each other in a party like atmosphere and are assisted in using their social skills.
Health and fitness
We will have a health clinic on the premises where we provide basic health assessment and education, including blood pressure checks, blood sugar checks and sensitization on health maintenance and disease prevention. Clients and their families are educated on proper medication handling and administration, including appropriate hand washing. We will also have daily exercise programs that are tailored to each individuals need.
Internship Programs with local businesses
Clients who qualify will be partnered with businesses for training in vocational skills, with full support from the center. A support staff will accompany the client to the business during the first week, until they are comfortable to be there on their own.
Workshops and Skills Training.
Monthly workshops including cake baking and decorating classes, carpentry, arts and crafts. and money management skills, are held to assist our clients in becoming independent and self-reliant.
We partner with local businesses and medical facilities to share their skills on a monthly basis, and to take in clients as interns. We also encourage college students who are studying social work, education, nursing or medicine, to volunteer and to use our center as a research and practical site.
Community Education and Sensitization
We provide sensitization in the community on disabilities and ways to support those with special needs. This way they can be productive citizens of the community, by showing videos on different diagnoses and ways to support individuals. We create community programs where those without special needs, are paired with those with special needs, as a buddy system in a safe and supervised environment.
Support Groups for families with individuals with Special Needs
Families in Sierra Leone with children/relatives with Special Needs lack adequate support systems. we want them to know they are not alone and should not be ashamed of their family member with special needs. To ease some of the pressure, JPOH will provide equipments, financial and housing support, for families to be able to care for their loved ones with special needs. We also encourage and empower the group to rely on each other for support by offering counselling and listening sessions to provide coping strategies when caring for persons with special needs at home.