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Story | Research
17 November 2019

Breaking down stigmas and helping children with special needs


Doha Learning Days discussion encourages collaboration between Qatar entities that cater for children with special needs.

Raising awareness, changing mindsets, and sharing best practices were the main topics of conversation in a Children with Special Needs discussion held at Torba Farmers Market in Education City.

Led by experts in the field, representing entities such as Step By Step, Hope Qatar, and Qatar Foundation (QF), the informal discussion was an opportunity for specialists to meet likeminded people, network, and collaborate, as well as to share experiences, resources, and expertise.

It also provided a safe space for visitors and parents to ask questions and learn more about the programs on offer at each of the separate entities, such as Step By Step’s two-fold primary focus on early intervention and vocational training.

The discussion was held as part of the Doha Learning Days festival, a six-day event organized by QF initiative WISE that aims to engage the entire community through a variety of educational activities, discussions, and workshops.

Jamie Spellman, Special Needs Football Coach, Qatar Foundation, said: “This event was for anyone working with disabled children, or parents of children with special needs.

“It provided a unique opportunity for teachers, parents, and people who organize activities for the children in this community to come together in an informal setting to talk about the challenges and problems they encounter, or share positive things they have found that work within their schools.

“Hopefully, someone can walk away from today with something that can make a difference. Ultimately, it’s not about us, it’s about the children.”

Spellman is a coach at the Ability Friendly Football Sessions offered at Qatar Foundation, which provides classes for people with autism, learning difficulties, the visually impaired, the deaf, and those with physical impairments.

Doha Learning Days is open to the public and free of charge. Set to conclude on November 19, its activities are taking place across Education City’s Green Spine and Ceremonial Court.

For more information about the festival, and the activities on offer, please visit:

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