Saudi charity starts ‘first creative’ special needs program in Kingdom

The NGO revealed that 4.6 percent of disabled people in Jeddah benefit from the cities’ recreational and training centers

Published: Updated:

A local charity announced the first creative special needs program for children on the International Day of People with Disability (IDPwD), which is marked on Dec.3 every year, Al-Hayat daily reported.

Sawaed Al-Watan for Sustainable Development Initiative revealed that 4.6 percent of disabled people in Jeddah benefit from the cities’ recreational and training centers. There are 150,000 disabled people in Jeddah and only 7,000 of them are benefiting from such centers.

The deputy head of the initiative’s executive board, Abdullah Abdulqader Baishin, said no reliable statistics are available on the number of disabled people in the Kingdom.

“There is a lack of accurate diagnosis and specialized trainers for each disability,” he said.

There are some statistics out there that estimate there are 1.5 million disabled people in the Kingdom, which is about 7 percent of the Kingdom’s total population. The global average is 10 percent.

"This means that the Kingdom is in a well-standing position on the international map but we need the support of sponsors and businessmen to fund some of the training programs,” said Baishin.

The head of the initiative’s executive board, Ahmad Al-Obaikan, said there are about 10 to 20 disabled people in each recreational and training center. Currently there are 27 centers in Jeddah but there is a need for more.

King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Center for People with Disability organized a festival celebrating IDPwD sponsored by Prince Sultan Bin Nasser last Tuesday.

Speaking at the festival, Obaikan said people with disabilities are an essential part of the community who have equal rights.

He also urged all government and private sector institutions to dedicate their resources and empower all disabled people in the community to become productive members of society.

“Rich businessmen who own millions must not only donate to disability centers but establish their own centers,” said Abdulaziz Al-Andijani, a member consultant of Sawaed Al-Watan.

The initiative’s general secretary Abdullah Rashad said parents should be more outspoken about their disabled children and get them involved in their local communities.

“The media needs to get involved in raising awareness regarding disabled people and how to interact with them,” he said.

This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on Dec.7 2014.