SmSh: What is Xiersen, how long has it been around?
Nikki: Xiersen was founded in December 2014. Started by ELG special education professionals and advocates, its purpose is to improve the condition of special education in China in simple but specific ways. This can only be done by leveraging support across several layers of community stakeholders. With awareness campaigns (such as AGame) and the creation of a new job classification in special education (Careers in Care), we hope to positively impact millions of people.
SmSh: What is the biggest challenge facing people with disabilities in Shanghai?
Nikki: Not enough trained workers. Many times, people who pursue undergraduate degrees or above stay academic, because as practitioner, salaries are low, the work is hard and there are stigmas attached. In terms of quality of services, Shanghai is actually arguably better than anywhere else in the country. I‘ve heard countless stories of parents relocating to Shanghai for this very reason. 90% of China‘s population lives outside major cities which is why Xiersen is building Careers in Care. Through Xiersen‘s Learning Platform, we aim to make the curriculum and learning modules available via mobile device, accessible China wide. I hold to the belief that when special education changes in China, its epicenter will be our city!
SmSh: How did you get involved with Xiersen?
Nikki: I've always been particularly sensitive to the fact that situations can be greatly improved if the right kind of people, in the right way, at the right time give a little. It appeals to the efficiency and alignment side of what I like to do. I have an international business background, and was drawn to the idea of a startup backed by ELG, an organization with a 12 year track record of success.
I love the idea of pooling local expertise in China, while localizing and integrating the best practices from abroad. In this way, you create unique solutions for China. Developing a technology solution with an eLearning educational platform accessible to the masses had a huge appeal to me.
SmSh: This year Xierson is teaming up with Active Kidz Shanghai to make AGame Sports Day even bigger. Can you tell us a bit about how AGame got started and its purpose?
Nikki: I brought the concept of AGame to Xiersen, for this event, we are integrating sports, which build physical and mental stamina, while teaching the importance and discipline of training, rules and teamwork. So if you combine our ideals and sports, it becomes about sharing, participation and fun. It's also about giving students from mainstream local and international schools across Shanghai the opportunity to create their own activities for special education. We support them with ideas, professional resources and our time. They learn more about themselves and the world around them.
AGame is about giving kids of all abilities a chance to reflect. We all want to express ourselves, to be heard, to laugh, to have fun and learn. We all share these common, fundamental human needs and it feels good to have fun together!
SmSh: What do kids like most about AGame Sports Day? What is your favorite part?
Nikki: University and High School students like to actively participate in AGame's organization. They think it's fun to do something important for China’s underprivileged populations, to take lead, to grow ideas, to make an impact in a vital way.
I am grateful to have this opportunity to build something new and unique. To challenge stigmas, to increase empathy and to do something sporty and fun. I also love the teamwork in these types of events, working with like minded partners and sponsors. The synergy is fantastic! Together, we give our community a chance to be active, to compete in a fun event. I hope AGame helps build the momentum and make the world a kinder place.
AGame is happening this Saturday, from 9am-1pm, the goal this year is to raise awareness of opportunities and careers in special education. Address details: Childer's Field, 1 Wanshan Lu, Changning. There will be snacks for purchase but the event is free to attend. WeChat: Xierson_NGO for more info. The event is open to all kids and families.
Photos provided by Xierson.