Charity Child Development Centre to be Evicted by TEPAK

A ONE-OF-A-KIND educational organisation for children with special needs is being thrown out of the old Limassol hospital to make way for the growing campus of the Technological University TEPAK.

With limited funds and no guarantee of alternative housing, the charity unit is now faced with an uncertain future.

“The unit’s relocation is the most urgent problem we are facing. It is imperative to find housing because children born with developmental or mental problems have nowhere else to go in Cyprus. This is the only refuge for their parents as well,” said Dr. Amerikos Argyriou, President of the Theotokos Foundation Board of Directors at a press conference held yesterday in Limassol.

“Unquestionably the continuation of the Unit’s work is necessary if we want our children to continue receiving professional evaluation and therapy, as well as timely intervention, like all other children in Europe for the last 40 years.”

“The fact that there is a centre that helps parents from the first months after birth, which for parents of children with developmental problems is the most difficult adjustment period until the child is eight, is something that we really need,” added Kakia Yiallourou, President of the Parents Association.

The Unit opened in 1994 and has been operating from the Old Limassol Hospital in the last ten years. Its impending eviction by TEPAK has left its management with no other choice than to plan for the construction of a building near the Theotokos Foundation, which will be a costly venture.

“We are a non-profit organisation as we only charge a symbolic charge for the care we provide. Although we are hopeful that the state will support us, we estimate that the cost of building another centre will reach €1 million. We are thus pleading for support from the public,” said Jill Neophytou, the Unit’s Director.

The Special Pre-school Education Unit is the only one of its kind on the island. It offers specialised services for developmental problems at symbolic charges. It offers timely intervention services to 50 families who have children with developmental problems aged from newborn to eight years old. Over the last years it has achieved accurate diagnosis for a large number of children with developmental problems including autism, attention deficit disorder, and hyperactivity, brain paralysis.

The Unit offers a range of specialised therapy including physiotherapy, speech therapy, work-therapy, psychotherapy and social work on an outpatient basis. In addition, it operates a day care centre for infants and children with developmental problems.

Meanwhile, the Unit’s Management also announced that the Unit has changed its name to ALMA Centre for the Development of Children’s Skills. “The new name reflects our efforts to adopt contemporary developments and upgrade our services. It is a name that exudes dynamism,” said Neophytou.