August 5, 2008
25-Year Old American Student Providing Education for Special Needs Children in India
To: NATIONAL EDITORS
Contact: Seth Shaffer of Harmony Through Education, +1-917-838- 3516, [email protected]American Non-Profit Opens the Doors to Its First School in Dharamsala, India
Providing Education for Special Needs Children in India
DHARMASALA, India, Aug. 5 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- On July 14th, 2008, Harmony Through Education (HTE), a U.S.- based non- profit, opened the doors to its first school in Dharamsala, India. HTEs mission is to provide education to the underserved population of children with mental and/or physical disabilities throughout the world.
More than 100 community members convened at the July 14th, 2008 opening, where his Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama honored the school by naming it the Illuminating Loving Kindness School. Dharamsala District Commissioner, Mr. K.K. Pant, attended the opening, representing the Indian government as HTEs chief guest.
The school opened with 15 students enrolled in the program, ranging in ages between 6 and 18, and serves children from economically poor backgrounds, who otherwise would not have access to formal education. HTE serves the entire family and requires parents and siblings to attend at least one monthly training session, which provides instruction regarding nutrition, hygiene and teaching skills they can work on with the students at home.
After spending several months in Dharamsala teaching children with special needs, I realized the lack of formal education available to this population, not only in Dharamsala, but throughout India and the developing world explained Seth Shaffer, Executive Director of Harmony Through Education. We already have a waiting list at the Dharamsala School and are working hard to ensure we can accommodate of all the special needs students in the area in the near future.
The HTE Dharamsala School will teach the students both vocational and life skills. HTEs goal is to develop the students abilities until they are self sufficient and can contribute to their family and community. HTE anticipates serving approximately 100 students in two years, and eventually serving approximately 300 children and families.
HTE has hired three full time staff, including a speech therapist, special educator, and computer teacher, all specifically trained to work with special needs children. The HTE team creates individualized education plans (IEPs) for each child. HTE also is forming relationships with local medical doctors, dentists, psychologists, occupational therapists, and physical therapists to enhance its services to the students and their families and to monitor student progress.
About Harmony Through Education
HTE is an international NGO registered as a U.S. tax exempt 501(c) (3) non-profit organization with headquarters in Bethesda, Maryland. HTEs ultimate objective is to raise capital to fund the operation of schools around the world for mentally and/or physically challenged children in rural, impoverished communities, who dont have access to formal education.
HTE was founded in 2006 by then 23-year old, Seth A. Shaffer. Mr. Shaffer was managing a small music production company in New York City, when he decided to explore solutions for the needs of developing countries. He volunteered for two months with a local NGO, Cross-Cultural Solutions, to work with special needs children in Dharamsala, India, where he observed that the resources available for these children were severely limited and professional instructors almost non-existent.
Mr. Shaffer stayed on in India for six month months to lay the foundation for Harmony Through Education and soon returned to the States where he formed HTE, secured its non-profit status and began raising funds for a school, which he called Project Dharamsala. Sixteen months and several fundraisers later, Mr. Shaffer and the rest of the HTE board members/volunteers raised in excess of sixty- thousand dollars to open its first school in Dharamsala.
For more information about the organization, please visit, www.HarmonyThroughEducation.org.
SOURCE Harmony Through Education
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