Space to grow

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 04 May, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 04 May, 2008, 12:00am

The opening of Watchdog Early Learning and Development Centre's second centre in Jordan this September is expected to increase special needs facilities for young children in the city and ease the early learning and development centre's one-year waiting list.

Watchdog is one of two government subsidised providers in the city offering the non-Chinese speaking community early intervention and educational services for developmentally delayed children under the age of six. It also runs a Cantonese-speaking stream.

It is planning to convert a 4,000 sqft former kindergarten into its second facility. This is expected to offer up 50 to 60 more private care and government subsidised places for children requiring early intervention programmes. There are more than 70 places at Watchdog's Borrett Road site.

'There is a large demand for therapy services for special needs children particularly in the non-Chinese speaking community,' says Stella Wong Wai-mui, executive director of Watchdog, a charity first established in 1983 by a group of parents with special needs children.

'Not only will our new centre ease the existing demand, it will also broaden its assistance to children who require help with just one aspect of development,' she says, adding, for example, speech and occupational therapy or physiotherapy.

Watchdog will work with private and corporate donors to fund HK$2million of costs associated with the new centre. A large portion of funding is expected to come from skincare company Kiehl's which will donate its net profit proceeds from its White Collection from March 19 to the end of August.

'The fundraising is constant because we are always developing new programmes and want to do more for our students,' says Abigail DeLessio, Watchdog's development director. 'We will also be fundraising for our scholarship places. These cost from HK$25,000 to HK$75,000 per person each year depending on the needs of the individual.

'Awareness of Watchdog has been increasing every year,' says Ms DeLessio. 'This is a very compelling cause and I find that once we make people aware of what we are doing, they are usually very willing to give.'

About half of Watchdog's operating budget currently comes from the government with the remaining balance from donors.