Inspired by special boy

01 September 2014 - 02:02 By Poppy Louw
HANDS-ON: Alison Moschetta took matters into her own hands when she could not find a special-needs school for her son. She quit her job after 25 years and used her pension payout to set up a school last year
HANDS-ON: Alison Moschetta took matters into her own hands when she could not find a special-needs school for her son. She quit her job after 25 years and used her pension payout to set up a school last year
Image: MOELETSI MABE

A special school was all Alison Moschetta, 46, wanted for her special son. But when she could not find a suitable school the mother of four left her job to start her own special-needs school.

"I couldn't find a school that met both my son's needs and mine. I want to give other parents that gift," she said.

Moschetta's son, Lucca, was born with Reiger syndrome - a rare genetic disorder that results in eye abnormalities, especially glaucoma, and septicaemia, which in Lucca's case led to brain damage.

Moschetta, who spent years researching special-needs children and schools, invested all her pension payout to buy and renovate the property in Randburg, Johannesburg, that now houses the Loved Uplifted Carefree Cherished Angels (LUCCA) Support and Care Centre.

Tenchildren are enrolled at the school and eight more are expected to start in January. Her seven-year-old son is in Grade R. The school, which employs an on-site paramedic, can take up to 25 children aged up to 16.

Muhammad Suleman, a researcher for NGO Section 27, earlier this year highlighted the shortage of special-needs schools. Of this country's 25850 schools, only 423 cater to children with special needs, and only 63 provide education up to matric.

According to Stats SA's 2009 general household survey, nearly 2.1million children are disabled.

A 2013 Department of Health report noted that 8% of seven- to 15-year-olds with disabilities were not attending school in 2012. The figure was much worse for 16- to 18-year-olds, with a third of them not attending school.

Moschetta's Lucca school provides for the holistic needs of disabled children .

It has a nursery, rooms for reading, speech and sensory stimulation, an indoor heated pool with a paraplegic lift, a jungle gym, a trampoline and countless sensory toys for the children, who are under constant supervision.

A physiotherapist and speech, occupational and hydro therapists are on the premises. Counselling is available for overwhelmed parents.

Said Moschetta: "It was difficult juggling everything [to make it all happen].

"I have a qualified team for my children - I'm here as a support system for the parents."

  • The Lucca Support and Care Centre open day is on September 20.
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