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Club 21

Club 21 is a learning center for children with Down syndrome in South Africa.

Club 21 was founded by Izelle Els, the mother of a son with Down syndrome (Jan-Herman), because of the absence of services for children with DS in South Africa. She knew her son and other children with Ds could develop and flourish in an environment focused on their specific needs and learning abilities. By the end of the first year, there were four total students.

Education for children with Down syndrome is low on the priority list of the South African government. The current policy is to include children with Downs in mainstream education. This approach is ineffective and leaves children lost in a system that has no ability to meet their unique needs or help them grow. Teachers are not equipped to handle the education of students with special needs in their classrooms, and class sizes are too large to allow personalized attention. Outside the school system, no other institution specializing in the education and development of children with Down syndrome exists in South Africa—until Club 21.

Club 21 is a Christ-centered, non-profit learning center that offers an alternative education solution to children with Down syndrome across South Africa.

The school provides an established and proven curriculum for children with Ds along with regular therapies, small class sizes of seven or fewer with two trained adults, family and parent support, and other opportunities for growth and development like music classes and educational outings.

Currently, Club 21 serves a group of 90 students, ages three to thirty-six, in three locations in South Africa. Club 21 has the vision to establish and model a holistic learning center in Pretoria to be replicated in nine major cities across South Africa.

Please, become a Friend, join the Club, and open a door of opportunity for children with Down syndrome and help them to flourish in their world.


Visit Club21’s website now.