How Rashid Center Prepares Students of Determination for a Fulfilling Future



In an interview with Ms. Lina, Head Teacher at the 30-year-old Rashid Center for People of Determination in Dubai, spoke about the academic rehabilitation facility, its broad range of programmes, the exceptional performance of its  299 students with various disabilities along with the forthcoming AccessAbilities Expo (AAE-2024) that will have on display the widest range of assistive technologies and innovations.


1. Please tell us something about the Center and share insights into the specific programs, services, and activities offered at the Rashid Center for People of Determination. How do these initiatives directly impact the lives of your students?

Established in 1994, the Rashid Centre is an academic rehabilitation facility (physio, speech, occupational therapy (OT), and behavior) that provides tailored curricula in both Arabic and English to enhance the physical and mental abilities of its students.

Additionally, the centre offers the ASDAN program, a British curriculum designed for PoD aged between 11 to 18. This program focuses on developing students’ daily life and vocational skills relevant to the external work environment, aiming to prepare them for future employment and community engagement, fostering independence. Supported by the ‘Work Experience’ program, akin to internships, eligible students, in collaboration with Occupational Therapy specialists, visit various sites such as hotels, restaurants, and offices, reinforcing the skills learned at the centre and opening doors to job opportunities.

Furthermore, the Rashid Centre hosts a variety of extracurricular activities including music (in both English and Arabic), sports, swimming, drama, art, Lego activities, and sensory learning sessions conducted in specialized rooms like the Smart room and Sensory room.

Of course, we also facilitate various opportunities for our students to engage outside the centre. They participate in exhibitions, competitions, and events to showcase their artwork and products.

Additionally, we offer the ‘Sailibility’ program for seniors, providing them with the chance to experience sailing and enjoy beach and water activities.

All of these initiatives contribute to developing our students’ abilities to lead lives similar to those of their peers and to become productive and independent members of society.


2. Could you highlight some success stories or significant accomplishments by your students?

The centre itself is a success story, with all its achievements. Our team has made remarkable progress with our students by providing a holistic educational and vocational learning environment, utilizing assistive technology to cater to our students’ diverse needs, and collaborating with various clinics and hospitals for the latest treatments. Here are a few success stories I’d like to share with you:

Kara, 11.2 years old, has Spastic Diplegic Cerebral Palsy and Developmental Delay. She uses a wheelchair and cannot walk independently or control her hand movements or communicate verbally. However, we taught her how to use an eye gaze AAC device to express her needs and communicate with others. She has also started taking a few steps with the assistance of a walker.

Muddaththir, aged 6.11 years, was diagnosed with Central Hypotonia and initially relied on a wheelchair. However, through our interventions and support, he has progressed to the point where he is now able to walk independently.

Aya (Developmental Delay and Microcephaly), aged 27.7 years has a strong will to overcome difficulties and surpass any obstacles in her path. Aya joined the centre at the age of 11. However, her strong determination to challenge walking difficulties and hand movements was stronger than any label for any disability. She amazed me with her determination, as she struggled initially to hold a piece of paper, but now she excels in embroidering fabric using different types of stitches. Aya has now established her Instagram account to sell embroidered fabric pieces. Aya always excels and challenges her difficulties, focusing on achieving the best.

Raqiya (Deaf and Mute) aged 29.7 is the best and most productive student in the Vocational Rehabilitation Department. She has been a part of the center since a young age, progressing through various departments and experiencing remarkable growth in her abilities while overcoming numerous challenges. With the support of her family and the skilled therapy provided by the center, Raqiya has achieved remarkable success in terms of the accuracy, speed, and quantity of her production. Her journey to this stage required dedicated training across multiple skills, and she now excels in crafting blankets, accessories, kitchen products, and intricately embroidered items, leaving everyone in awe of her exceptional work. Recognized for her creativity and skill, Raqiya is set to receive the Professional Excellence Award from the center for the second consecutive year.

Liyazia (Learning Difficulties) aged 24.10 joined the centre two years ago and has undergone a remarkable transformation, demonstrating her ability to overcome some of her difficulties. With training, rehabilitation, and support, she has excelled in various areas, becoming one of the most creative producers in decoupage art, embroidery, and accessories. Liyazia now possesses the skills to train other students and has developed a beautiful style that we emphasize, as it will aid her in interacting with customers and navigating various environments in the future. She has achieved significant success in presenting numerous theatrical performances, overcoming previous challenges of facing the camera and audience. With continued support and rehabilitation, Liyazia has gained confidence and overcome these barriers effectively.

Awsha (Down Syndrome), aged 33.8, has been part of the Rashid Centre since the age of 6. Over the years, she has progressed through various stages to become one of the center’s standout performers in theatrical productions and a distinguished contributor in the vocational rehabilitation department. From being unable to thread a needle, she has developed the skills to operate a sewing machine and has showcased her creativity as a cook within the center’s hospitality team. A natural leader with a unique personality, after extensive training and rehabilitation, Awsha can now interact effectively with her environment and independently produce many outstanding products.

Many of our students have grown up within our centre, where they have acquired vocational skills that have opened up job opportunities in various sectors. For example, Ali now works in the customer service department of a company, while Hassan has become a Support Staff member at an international school.

Additionally, Khaled secured a job as a photographer in a governmental entity. We also take pride in nurturing talents within our centre, such as Kawkab, an accomplished painter who now serves as an art assistant, and Omar, who excels as a drama assistant.

Many of our students have grown up within our centre, where they have acquired vocational skills that have opened up job opportunities in various sectors. For example, Ali now works in the customer service department of a company, while Hassan has become a Support Staff member at an international school.

Additionally, Khaled secured a job as a photographer in a governmental entity. We also take pride in nurturing talents within our centre, such as Kawkab, an accomplished painter who now serves as an art assistant, and Omar, who excels as a drama assistant.

These success stories highlight the effectiveness of our programs in empowering individuals with determination to thrive and make meaningful contributions to society.


3. How do you evaluate the AccessAbilities Expo in supporting your ambitions by exploring the best modern, and assistive technologies to use in your students’ rehabilitation processes?

Such evaluation involves several key considerations.

Firstly, we assess the range and diversity of technologies showcased at the expo.

This includes evaluating the extent to which the latest innovations in assistive devices, mobility aids, communication tools, and other relevant technologies are represented.

Secondly, we look at the relevance of these technologies to our students’ specific needs and rehabilitation goals. This involves considering factors such as the age range and abilities of our students, as well as the nature of their disabilities or challenges.

Additionally, we evaluate the practicality and usability of the technologies on display. This includes assessing factors such as ease of use, compatibility with existing systems or equipment, and the level of customization or adaptability available.

Furthermore, we consider the availability of resources and support for implementing these technologies within our center. This includes evaluating factors such as cost, training and education opportunities for staff, and ongoing technical support or maintenance services.

Overall, our evaluation of the AccessAbilities Expo focuses on identifying technologies that have the potential to significantly enhance the rehabilitation processes and overall quality of life for our students.


4. How many children does the Center accommodate? How do you evaluate the UAE’s support for People of Determination?

We have 299 students with various disabilities.

The United Arab Emirates has been lauded for its exceptional support for people of determination. The government has launched numerous initiatives

and programs aimed at improving the quality of life for this community and facilitating their full integration into society. These efforts encompass a range of actions, including the establishment of accessible infrastructure to ensure public spaces, transportation systems, and buildings are easily navigable for people of determination, incorporating features like wheelchair ramps, accessible restrooms, and tactile paving.

Furthermore, specialized education programs have been developed and tailored to meet the unique needs of students with disabilities, offering individualized support, assistive technologies such as screen readers, hearing aids, and mobility devices, and employing trained educators to ensure a high standard of education and assistance.

Additionally, the government provides vocational training programs and skill development workshops to equip individuals of determination with the necessary skills and knowledge to thrive in their chosen fields. In a bid to foster inclusive employment practices, companies are incentivized to hire individuals with disabilities through offering subsidies and incentives, thereby promoting equality in the workforce.

Furthermore, support services such as rehabilitation centers, counseling services, and assistive technology centers have been established to empower people of determination and enhance their independence.

The UAE also conducts awareness campaigns aimed at promoting understanding and acceptance of people of determination within society, with the ultimate goal of eradicating stigma and discrimination and fostering a culture of inclusivity.


5. Parents face unique challenges regarding their children reaching adulthood at 18 years old. Do you have any suggestions or recommendations to address these specific challenges?

Navigating the transition to adulthood is indeed one of the unique challenges for parents of individuals with profound and multiple learning disabilities (PoD). It’s essential for parents to increase their awareness of how to effectively navigate this transition to provide the best support for these individuals. Firstly, early planning is crucial. This involves initiating discussions and preparations with children well in advance, starting during their teenage years, to ensure a smooth transition. It also entails working closely with all stakeholders, including educators, healthcare professionals, social workers, and psychologists, to develop a comprehensive transition plan that addresses various aspects such as self-awareness, education, employment, housing, healthcare, and social support. Our prevocational and vocational programs are tailored to assist and guide students through this transition, with the invaluable support of our behavior team who provide emotional support for both the individual and their family members. Additionally, emotional support can be accessed through counseling, support groups, or peer networks, which can help navigate the challenges and uncertainties of the transition period.


6. How do you educate the families and community of people with disabilities on how to interact with their children and enhance their abilities, and what advice do you offer parents in this regard?

We offer various programs and initiatives aimed at raising awareness and providing support to parents and the broader community. One way we educate families is through regular workshops, online tips, and recorded sessions covering topics such as understanding different disabilities, effective communication strategies, behavior management techniques, and promoting independence. These sessions offer practical guidance and tools for parents to implement at home in supporting their children’s development.

In terms of advice to parents, we stress the importance of patience, empathy, and unconditional love, urging them to focus on their child’s strengths and abilities while celebrating every milestone and achievement. Establishing a supportive and nurturing home environment is crucial for the child’s overall well-being and development.

Additionally, we encourage parents to actively involve their children in everyday activities and decision-making processes, empowering them to build confidence and independence. Teachers and therapists maintain regular communication with parents through WhatsApp groups or phone calls to provide updates and assistance, ensuring consistency in learning between the center and home.

It’s also essential for parents to seek support and resources from professionals, support groups, or other parents facing similar challenges. By fostering a strong support network and staying informed, parents can better advocate for their children and ensure they receive the necessary support and opportunities to thrive.


7. Considering the broader goals of the Rashid Center, how will you use this involvement in AccessAbilities 2024 to raise awareness about People of Determination, their lifestyle, and their needs, and push for more inclusivity and accessibility in the community?

Firstly, we will showcase success stories from teachers and parents about the achievements of PoD who have benefited from the services and support provided by the Rashid Center. These success stories will highlight the capabilities potential of PoD, challenging stereotypes and misconceptions.

Additionally, we will organize informational sessions and workshops to educate the public about the challenges faced by PoD and the importance of inclusivity and accessibility. These sessions will cover topics such as disability rights, accessible design, and inclusive education, aiming to foster greater understanding and empathy within the community.

Furthermore, we will actively engage with stakeholders, including policymakers, businesses, and community leaders, to advocate for policies and initiatives that promote inclusivity and accessibility. This may involve influencing government officials, participating in policy forums, and joining advocacy groups dedicated to disability rights.

Also, collaborating with businesses and corporations to create inclusive employment opportunities for PoD involves various strategies, such as providing training and support to employers, advocating for inclusive hiring practices, and promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

Through our participation in AccessAbilities 2024, we aim to spark conversations, inspire action, and drive positive change towards a more inclusive and accessible society for all.


Visit:  Rashid Center for People of Determination


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