Club 21 is a learning center for children with Down syndrome (DS) located in Pretoria, South Africa. It is the only one of its kind in this nation.


Club 21 was started by the mother (Izelle Els) of a DS boy (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 advance in an environment focused on their specific needs and learning abilities. By the end of that first year there were four students.


Education for children with DS is low on the priority list of the South African government. The current policy is to include children with DS in mainstream education. This approach is ineffective and leaves these children lost in a system that has no ability to meet their 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 DS exists in South Africa—until Club 21.


Club 21 is a Christ-centered, non-profit learning center seeking to offer an alternative education solution to children with DS 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 30 students, ages three to 15, in one location. Club 21 has a vision to establish a model holistic learning center in Pretoria to be replicated in nine major cities across South Africa.


The need in South Africa is great. Out of thousands of children with DS, only 30 currently have the chance to learn and grow in an environment that meets their unique needs. Only 30 have access to opportunities that help them realize their potential and thrive in their world. The rest are waiting—waiting for caring and trained teachers, for appropriate therapies, and for educational opportunities to unlock their talents and help them discover all God made them to be. Club 21 is ready to meet this need.


Please, become a Friend, join the Club, and open a door of opportunity for children with DS, help them advance and develop in their world.


For more information about Club 21 go to http://www.club21school.org