Nine years ago, an inclusive Lebanon was a dream of many parents with children whose special needs denied them access to educational opportunities, social experiences, and economic independence. Hiding your child with special needs was the norm. Whenever you took him or her out meant that you were going to be shamed and ridiculed. The SKILD Center is a dream come true for its founder, Dr. Nabil Costa, also a parent to a child with special needs, and for many educators, specialists, and visionaries.
Not always do we get to tangibly experience the impact of the investments made in a program so quickly. Adopting a wide and robust digital infrastructure through Microsoft classrooms was the best thing that the Beirut Baptist School (BBS) did over the last 3 years.
Fifty stars, fifty dreams, fifty chances for a bright future, if we only give them the right spotlight. Just like diamonds in the rough, young men and women with special needs are buried under mountains of neglect, shame, and social segregation, waiting for their light to be revealed and illuminate the world.
Smiles, crowns, genuine tears, and renewed hope: this is what we witnessed this year at SKILD. As our kings and queens were crowned at February’s Night to Shine, they walked down the red carpet into their kingdom, the kingdom that Jesus called them into, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. The peace and joy planted in our hearts by the smiles on the faces of children with special needs and their families was the fuel we needed to continue the year.
“‘If you are able? All things are possible for the one who believes’ … Jesus gently took his hand and raised him to his feet, and he stood up.” When the disciples asked Jesus why they could not heal the boy, Jesus answered, “This kind can only be resolved through prayer and fasting” (Mark 9:14-29).
The care we are called to give, the love we are meant to show, the support we should provide are Christ-like characteristics that we are entrusted to live out to the world as a glimpse of the heavenly comfort provided by our Father’s Kingdom.
Raising awareness on the importance of inclusion and building the capacities of educators to better serve learners with special needs is essential to reach reforms in the educational sector on a national and regional level.