The Creative Learning Center (CLC) at the Dallas Headquarters Jamatkhana is a unique classroom made up of unique individuals with a unique purpose. Here, everyone is smiling at one another, cheering for each other, and making sure no one is marginalized or left behind. Individuals considered as disabled or with special needs are believed to be specially-abled beings in this exceptional facility.
The purpose and mission of CLC is not limited to the confines of its walls. The Center’s philosophy is that these individuals need not be secluded or sidelined due to their disability. Still, instead, they are required to be specially-abled or equipped to participate in every possible way in all Jamati activities.
In pre-Covid times, a team of volunteers planned and implemented various activities for this group, related to Talim, life skills, and fun activities such as celebrations of birthdays, festivals, and special events. In addition, they also planned many outdoor events such as prom, splash day, canvas painting, bowling, and many other events.
During the Diamond Jubilee year, these volunteers stepped up to make sure that the students became part of every One Jamat celebration, whether it was a One Jamat dance, designing a mosaic tile, participating in a Jubilee Game, or visiting the Rays of Light exhibition.
When the Jubilee Arts program was announced, the team became excited and prepared to make a submission. It devised the idea of creating a collage with puzzle pieces. The volunteers and parents helped the students to design and decorate their puzzle pieces. Students from Headquarters, Mid-cities, Plano, & Tri-cities, came together and created a distinctive collage where each individual puzzle piece, though distinct from one another, turned into a beautiful work of art when assembled together.
The creation’s title, “Tips for Life,” signifies that individuals, however different, are no less important or precious. They teach us the meaning of life in a unique manner. They show us how one innocent smile can brighten an entire room, that it is easy to forgive, as they never hold grudges against anyone, that every little step towards progress can be celebrated like a notable feat, and that they too enjoy every moment in life.
As the Covid threat loomed, lockdowns and Jamatkhana closures seemed to dismantle the closely-knit classroom community. Fortunately, the volunteers stepped up to the challenge of turning a crisis into an opportunity. Engaging and reaching out to these special Jamati members was extremely challenging and crucial.
Regional and national collaborations took place to support virtual classes for students. The classes turned out to be equally enjoyable for the students, parents, and for volunteers too, who displayed their dedication, commitment, and compassion to help improve the quality of life of specially-abled students in the Jamat.