Community Involvement

Thuthukani hosts parent's days twice a year on a Saturday. We assist with transport and offer refreshments to the parents. These functions are used to educate the children's parents and caregivers on issues surrounding their disability and education. Group sessions, as well as meetings with the learner's educators are offered. Parents are also free to visit the school any day with their child to see the educator, nurse or therapists if they need information or assistance.

The greater community of Empangeni, Richards Bay and the surrounding areas is very involved in the daily work of Thuthukani Special School. 9 businesses in Empangeni are directly involved by offering on-the-job training to some of our learners in the Wednesday Amathuba Program.
Some members of staff are working on a volunteer basis at the school. These volunteers are working as class assistants, cooks, gardeners and cleaners.

We do not have a boarding school, as we consider it important that the learners' families remain involved in their lives. As many of our learners come from outlying areas, bus companies in the area offer free transport to our learners to and from school on a daily basis.

Many of our learners come from low socio-economic backgrounds, and come to school hungry.. No child can learn on an empty stomach, so we have a feeding program that provides each learner with a basic breakfast and lunch each day. We do receive government sponsorship, but this is not sufficient to provide our learners with a balanced healthy meal each day. We need to supplement the government-sponsored food with fresh vegetables and additional staples, so we are always grateful for any additional dried or fresh food donated to us. Our sponsors include chain stores that provide loaves of bread on a daily basis, milling companies who supply rice, maize and other staples, poultry farmers who provide eggs, many companies who provide non-perishable food or treats on an ad-hoc basis and groups from various faiths who provide meals on a regular basis.

Many of the main stream schools bring their learners to do projects at our school. For example, we had a grade 7 class who collected and made toys and brought them to Thuthukani, we had a grade 12 economics class who had to do a corporate social development project who chose our school to assist with lessons and games. A school presented their concert to us and many other schools and their learners visit us regularly.

Small groups of children who have autistic spectrum disorder and cerebral palsy are taken to Dayspring Farmyard where they are given the opportunity to benefit from horse riding once a week.

We have very generous members of the community who support us regularly, such as Rotary Empangeni who have given funds to develop the Skills Development program and they are still actively raising funds for this and other projects. Some of the corporate companies in the area support Thuthukani with annual donations or project specific donations, on which we have come to rely. We also have an annual sponsored golf day, and many of the local businesses are regular contributors to the golf day. We have a triennial school concert, where our learners have the opportunity to participate in a large formal event for the community. Thuthukani also participate in events such as ladies days and are often guest speakers to raise awareness of the plight of the disabled. Some of the big companies in the area annually donate to our cause or allow their workers to raise funds on our behalf. Some individuals in the community are part of our "sponsor a child campaign" where they pay school fees on behalf of a child at school.
Educators and Therapists from Thuthukani Special School are often asked to be guest speakers at congresses or at training sessions. Our crowning achievement in this area was when we were asked to present a paper at the 2012 World Down Syndrome Congress. We often host educators and managers from other Special Schools to assist them in developing or improving the program they offer at their schools. We work with Universities and we provide opportunities for students in the field of education, social work and masters in psychology to learn more about the day- to- day work with children who have intellectual disability.

At all our fundraising events we ensure that we raise awareness of our school and our program.

Many of our donations are gifts of second-hand clothes or other usable items. To administrate this we have a caring committee at school who sort these donations. We give most of these items to learners who are in need. We also have an annual sale of these items to parents. Most items we sell at prices lower than R5, as the people who buy, are also in great need. The items that are left over are donated to other charities in the community.