Abu Dhabi: Reem Al Fahim was only 14 when she realised that helping physically challenged children was what she wanted to do.

Her life was changed when she participated in a school project that focused on children with special needs and visited the Special Care Centre (SCC). After completing her studies, she went on to work at the centre.

"I did my BA in Psychology and work as a Cognitive Therapist at the SCC with children from four to 22 years. I knew that this was what I wanted to do when I first visited this centre," said Reem, who's now head of the SCC's Executive Committee and deputy head of Good Heart (the centre's fundraising arm).

The centre currently accommodates 68 children of 16 nationalities who have been diagnosed with conditions such as autism, attention deficit disorder, intellectual disability, Down's syndrome, cognitive disability, cerebral palsy, hearing impairment and development disorders. Annual fees at the SCC are Dh8,000.

"We have 88 children on our waiting list and that breaks my heart. So in response, the school board has decided to build a campus that can accommodate more than 400 students," Reem said.

She explained that the construction of the special care centre in Al Bahia would be funded by a "Donate a Brick" campaign. It is hoped that up to five million bricks will be donated at a cost of Dh5 each and that the facility will be completed by 2010.

The centre will provide the full range of services from early detection and diagnosis to seeing youngsters through to adulthood and independence, she added. Students will be prepared for whatever comes next in their lives, whether that means returning to mainstream classrooms or to a life as a productive member of the community.

"We have already raised Dh8 million for the school, but need to collect at least Dh25 million to start the project. This has been made easier thanks to the generosity of General Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan [Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces], who pledged to match each dirham that is donated," added Reem.

Get involved: Donate a brick

For more information visit www.donateabrick.org. If you wish to make a donation, please contact the Special Care Centre on 02-641-8418.

Facilities and services planned for the new Special Care Centre:
1. Clinical Cluster
2. Early Intervention Unit
3. Vocational Unit
4. Health and Fitness Unit
5. Community Lounge
6. Food Court
7. Auditorium
8. Outdoor Area

Contact Details for the Donate a Brick Campaign

For more information visit www.donateabrick.org or if you wish to donate money, you may contact the Special Care Centre on 02-641-8418