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7 Things You Need To Know Before Visiting A Special Needs School 

By February 20, 2024February 26th, 2024One Comment4 min read

7 Things you need to know before visiting a special needs school 

In 2019 members of the Kenya Red Cross, Nanyuki branch, visited Likii Special School. During that visit, we learned about cerebral palsy and autism. I don’t recall much, because of old age, but one thing stuck with me. Autistic children and adults have strict diets. 

Fast forward, two months later I got a call from a church member that we were visiting a child that afternoon. In the church youth group, no earlier communication of this visit was made but, I was home rotting away. Off we went. Upon arriving, the youth leader arrived with some snacks. Very sugary snacks. I did try to let them know that was not allowed but it was too late plus the gates were open. We ate most of the snacks. 

We must visit special schools, orphanages, and rescue homes. But it’s more important that we do it right. 

Here is a list of things you should do before visiting a special school: 

  1. Call first 

Every other weekend you remind us you hate people who just show up at your door unannounced. You hate impromptu guests. Imagine the stress you impose on the staff because you decided to visit without calling. By calling you will be booked on a day most convenient for everyone. This call should also inform you what to bring and activities that best fit the children. The school might need a career talk, cleaners, a cook, paintwork, or just someone to play with the kids. We’ve visited a children’s home in Murang’a county that requested we make chapos and help with the laundry. In your call state your objective, do you wish to learn, or a casual visit. With the Kenya Red Cross, our objective was to learn thus we visited during the weekday. 

2.  Once your visit is confirmed organize what or who to bring as per the school’s needs.  Consider small appropriate gifts for the students. If your budget doesn’t fit individual gifts a collective gift is equally appreciated. It’s in this stage that you learn the appropriate words to refer to the kids, and educate yourself on who you will be visiting e.g. how do kids with cerebral palsy communicate their needs, what games are safe for the children, etc. 


3. On the day of the visit arrive on time.

Carry everything you need for the activities ahead. Dress appropriately for the activities chosen and avoid clothing that might be offensive or distracting to the hosts. 

4. Upon arrival, please call your host and confirm your arrival.

Follow the guidelines or rules given. If you wish to take photos of the kids ask for permission. Every festive season the internet is divided into two, those who believe taking photos of vulnerable kids is creating awareness and those who believe it’s insensitive. Like I stated call the institution and inquire what they need, not what you need. In case the school needs exposure and funds you can show the school and give a brief introduction of the school without exposing the faces of innocent children. Content creator Dr Lindah Muthoni has perfected creating awareness of such places without subjecting vulnerable children to social media. 


5. Everyone needs consistency.

Visiting special schools or orphanages once every year is not the consistency these children need. Choose a school that you can visit frequently and create a bond with the teachers and students. The on-and-off visits have been said to cause more harm than good.


“I was at an orphanage in Nigeria which I try to visit every time I’m back home, and over the years, I’ve seen the kids morph into teenagers and pre-teens.


But I always feel that burden of momentary detachment from the children when I leave. I read it in their eyes and I always promise I’ll come back.


That I wasn’t abandoning them…”


6. Remember that you are a quest.

You must remain mindful, respectful, and sensitive to the needs and feelings of the children and staff. 

7. Leave the place better than you found it i.e. clean any utensils used and collect littler.

Do give the children enough time to say goodbye. Leave on the agreed time.



Article written by Geuza Wazo Team

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