There are many amazing resources for families and children living in Shenzhen. One of the areas that has definitely been lacking is a place that brings together behavioral, and occupational therapy, vocational skills, and individualized instruction for kids with special needs. Now, in Shekou there is Recognize.
Recognize provides alternative services to special needs children in order to try and help them to function in society as global leaders and visionaries. According to Recognize founder, Kate Rowan, her kids will be needed in the future.
“I do a lot of research on what kind of minds, skills and behaviors our children will need to adapt to the future,” said Kate. “I think that kids who have special needs can contribute new, and fresh perspectives to their communities. This ability to think broadly will be one of the key factors in being a future global leader.”
Kate, who has worked with special needs children and adults for 20 years or more, has also developed a strong advocacy for alternative programs allowing service work, global issues studies, food gardening and other practical living skills.
“I’m really standing on the shoulders of Giants when I create the direction of the Recognize programs. I look to people like the French philosopher Maria Montessori, who believed kids needed life skills. Add a dash of the American, Howard Gardner, who is known for creating the theory of multiple intelligences, and just published a book titled the Five Minds for the Future. In addition, I also have been greatly influenced by the modern ideas of the British Sir Kenneth Robinson. He speaks, for the most part, about how we are de-programming our kids from being creative thinkers, and re-programming them to merely be workers.”
Recognize promotes a colorful, creative, thinking environment where kids can move at their own pace.
“Kids who come to Recognize all have an individualized plan for what they want out of our programs, and how fast they want to get it.”
In addition to experience in China, Recognize offers kids a chance to travel abroad with their staff. Kate has taken kids to Indonesia, Borneo, Vietnam, and has plans for the Philippines and Cambodia in the future.
“I think it is important for kids today to SEE the issues and solutions to problems like poverty in a ‘real’ context. Many of our children have never been to the places we go, and certainly not with a group of their peers,” Rowan said. “ Our travel together is definitely a culminating part of our program. We do service work abroad, we return with a huge amount of cultural knowledge, and friends from wherever we go.”
Kate insists another reason travel is important in her program is to assure that the next generation is attached to nature.
“When I take ‘city kids’ to climb a volcano they are in awe nearly the entire time. AWE, I find, is the first step toward attaching kids to the planet. If we expect the next generation to keep working on protecting the nature that is left- I think we need to make sure they are attached to the planet first!”
Recognize will soon have daytime, evening and weekend programs to assist the special needs community of ShenZhen. For more information on the programs, and service projects Recognze provides, visit www.recognizefoundation.org.