Students and faculty in the Arkansas Tech University College of Education have sent a care package of curriculum and compassion to a group of children with special learning needs in Cameroon.
Ernest Ehabe, a former ATU student and the founder of Ray of Hope Academy in Douala, Cameroon, and Jochebed Ambe, administrative assistant for Bread for Life International, visited the ATU campus in Russellville earlier this semester to receive lesson plans and classroom supplies that will benefit 15 children with special learning needs under their instruction and care.
It was the culmination of a project that began during the spring 2017 semester when students in Dr. Jackie Paxton’s junior level special education classes developed lesson plans to assist children a wide variety of disabilities, including autism and Down syndrome. The curriculum was produced in English and French due to the fact that both are official languages in Cameroon.
Soon after, the desire to help the students at Ray of Hope Academy became an initiative that involved multiple members of the ATU College of Education faculty.
Dr. John O’Connor, associate professor of health and physical education, applied his research regarding physical activities that benefit children with autism to provide Ehabe and his staff with techniques. Dr. Timothy Leggett, associate professor of curriculum and instruction in early childhood education, gathered practical supplies in support of the curriculum.
“Our students learned a lot through this process,” Dr. Tim Carter, head of the ATU Department of Curriculum and Instruction and professor of curriculum and instruction, said. “They learned how to design curriculum with the items available in mind. This will prove beneficial to them in their teaching careers, as they may be in schools where resources are limited and creativity is a valuable skill.”
Ray of Hope Academy is part of Bread for Life International, an organization that seeks to connect resources with needs in west central Africa.