By Staff Writer
Almost 20 years ago, a school of only four little girls started in a garage. Today, Up with Downs is a premier special needs school operating in the Eastern and Western Cape. The school aims to provide specialised education to meet the needs of children with special needs from pre-primary to high school. Over the last few months, Nashua and Up with Downs have enjoyed a fruitful partnership, streamlining printing requirements and cutting costs.
Jan Seegmuller, Director at Up with Downs, and one of the founding parents, started the school 30 years ago when her daughter, Nicole was born with Down Syndrome. She found there were no facilities in George or surrounding Cape region to accommodate her. Seegmuller was already involved in parent support programs, with a network of other parents facing the same concerns – not having a special school to cater for the needs of their children.
The school was established on a shoe-string budget, and continues to be run as a trust. “Funding can be a problem when it comes to private-run learning institutions, like Up with Downs, but the necessary funds always appear,” says Seegmuller.
Up with Downs and Nashua’s partnership started when Nashua sponsored the school’s fundraising golf day. Over the few months, the relationship progressed into a solid partnership. Print runs at the school are conducted through Nashua, and Up with Downs management has recognised the need for advanced solutions to allow the school to operate more efficiently.
“Before Nashua’s assistance we were taking all our print requirements to a local print shop. With Nashua, we’re getting exceptional service at a reasonable rate,” says Seegmuller.
Recently, Up with Downs recently purchased an adjoining house, next to the school, with the assistance of an American based charity. They have since used the property to start a B&B, restaurant, hair studio, laundrette and vegetable garden to generate income.