A joy working with disabled
Donna Holder has a strong passion for children who are disabled.
That’s why she has spent 26 years in the field of special education and an exemplary number of years as the director of the annual summer camp for disabled children, Camp Reach, which is a collaboration between the Ministry of Youth and Sport and the National Disability Unit.
During an interview with the MIDWEEK NATION at the six-week camp which is taking place at the Ann Hill school, the 44-year-old said that working with children with Down’s syndrome, autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and physical and learning disabilities, was something that she looked forward to every day of her life.
“It is something that I love and I enjoy doing,” said the acting senior teacher at Erdiston Special School. “School just finished for summer break and every year I step out of school and I step into this role as camp director.
“I get to see the children in a different way and you get to socialize with them on a casual note. As a teacher it helps me because when the child sits in front of me now in the new school term I have a full picture of that child,” Holder said, with a noticeable passion in her voice.
She recalled that her work with the special children started at the age of 15.
At that time she was preparing to leave Springer Memorial and was impressed with a lecture she received on the importance of voluntarism and immediately signed up to be an assistant with a camp that catered to children with special needs.
When it comes to the classroom setting, the trained special education teacher, who holds a Bachelor’s degree in sociology and a Master’s in education administration, said
her objective was to ensure that each child reached full potential and became independent in order to make a meaningful contribution to society.
“It calls for patience, creativity and thinking outside of the box,” she said.
“The same way that the child comes with differences they learn in different ways and you have to zero in on what methodology can I employ and what techniques can I use that would best reach this particular child.”
The mother of one said her greatest reward was the opportunity of seeing her students go through various changes in life.
But Holder has a yearning and a thirst to achieve something more. She would like to see the day when people with disabilities were fully accepted and incorporated into society.
“They all have a contribution to make to society and if you actually stand back and look at them your first impression may not necessarily be a positive one but you have to interact with them and realize their potential,” she said.