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Our Charity of the Month: Xiersen, For Special Needs Children

The first in a monthly series of spotlights on people doing good around us.
By Sep 2, 2019 Community

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In SmartShanghai's quest to be a better citizen (corporate or otherwise), we are highlighting charities and NGOs who are doing good for people who need it, in China.

In Brief: Xiersen supports children with special education needs.

The Problem: There’s a noticeable shortage of special education awareness and resources in China. A 2015 report from the Statistics Comuniqué on the Development of Education in China stated that there is approximately one special education teacher for every ten students who require special education across China. In Shanghai alone, there are more than 10,000 registered autistic children, and even this figure is likely underestimated. Students with autism are more likely to be referred to as ‘dangerous’ or ‘disruptive’ before they are labelled ‘autistic’.

Their Mission: Improving the condition of special education in China for Chinese people



How They Got Started: In 2003, Shari Rosen, a speech pathologist, began volunteering as a special education consultant in schools and hospitals in Shanghai. She discovered that many children weren’t receiving the care they needed and she became increasingly frustrated.

Along with her husband Monte, she reached out to fellow expat Andrew Hill, who had already been in China for over 30 years and provided valuable local knowledge and contacts. Together, the three began reaching out to members of the special education community.



First, they established ELG (whose slogan is engage, learn, grow), a social enterprise which aims to provide therapeutic services for children and adults with special needs. ELG consults with schools, offers counseling for parents, and supports various community organization.

In 2014, they founded their sister NGO Xiersen. It focuses on ensuring that children with developmental challenges can receive the care they require. Supporters of the cause are distinguished by their striped sleeves.

Their calls to action are through awareness, training, and immersion, which are each tackled individually in their three pillar projects.

AGAME raises awareness of and provides support to children with special needs and their families. They have done so through team-building activities for companies like HSBC and Gap, and a sports day with Active Kidz Shanghai.

Careers in Care supports teaching assistants and caregivers who work in classrooms with special educators. Through both online and live training sessions, people who have little to no prior knowledge or background in special education are taught essential skills such as communicating with special needs children and ensuring their safety.



Xiersen is working on making the content more accessible, through a collaboration with Nuanxing as well as developing their own online training platform. They are also planning a panel discussion at Concordia in November to increase exposure of special education as a viable career option to international high school students.

Special Educators Abroad is their most recent project, currently seeking funding through the Tencent 99 initiative, which will involve flying in foreign experts in special education for longer periods (anywhere from three months to a year) to participate in immersive training. These experts would be placed at special needs schools to mentor and empower local trainees. The idea is to put the skills learned into practice and create a consistent training curriculum.

How To Get Involved: Individuals can volunteer their time to support them by representing them at booths, helping with their social media or even translation work. Certified special educators or those with an interest in training to work in special education can contact Xiersen about employment and training schemes. Corporations can contact Xiersen directly to organize team-building events or to become a corporate partner.

How To Contact Them: This link, email support@xiersen.org or xiersen_NGO on WeChat.



Looking for more charities and support groups? See our Community directory right here.

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