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March 3, 2010 > A brighter future for special need children

A brighter future for special need children

By Alissa Gwynn
Photos By courtesy of Zia Oboodiyat

Ever since its establishment in 2006, the Special Need Children Center Foundation (SNCCF) has been growing and is "about ready to come out of its shell," according to CEO and founder Zia Oboodiyat. His mission: to assist special need children and young adults with the resources, environment, and support needed to maximize their opportunity to transition to productive, self-sufficient, and fulfilling lives.

Oboodiyat's son, Nathan, has cerebral palsy, a disability that hinders him from completing tasks that you and I might take for granted: flipping on a light switch, getting out of bed in the morning, driving to the grocery store. These obstacles that Nathan, as well as approximately 1 out of every 12 handicapped persons in America, faces are what inspired Oboodiyat to create the SNCCF. His vision for the organization is to provide a sense of community and belonging among children with special needs; to help them grow and thrive by offering them various facilities and activities, assistive equipment, and information and support services at the center.

He says, "Having a disabled child has given me the opportunity to meet many more, and living with one has helped me to realize the way disabled people are looked at in our society." Because of their physical disabilities, handicapped children are often, although unintentionally, ostracized from other kids. The hope for the Special Need Children Center is to provide a place where disabled children can interact with others like themselves, and lessen those feelings of loneliness. Nathan says, "Everything is really not handicap accessible. Most doors aren't automatic, but I think it's really hard [being handicapped in our society] because when people first meet me, they tend to only see the chair and don't take time to get to know me."

However, although physically handicapped, Nathan is still a funny, intelligent 22-year-old. Like many other young adults, he enjoys listening to music, hanging out with friends, and aspires to be either a rapper or video game designer in the future. He is currently studying at Ohlone College and is working on receiving his AA in Sound Art.

Oboodiyat has used Nathan as inspiration for various projects, including the one he is currently working on with engineering students from San Jose State University: wheelchair sensors that can detect changes in floor or wall conditions and respond accordingly to them, helping the person in the chair avoid bumping into anything. Additional projects the SNCCF and its partner university students are working on include: voice recognition interface for mobile chairs, control stick for mobile chairs, and photosensitive lights for mobile chairs.

Nathan says, "I think my Dad is doing a really great thing, but he can't do it all on his own; he'd heal the world if he could, but he needs help and support."

Anyone wishing to donate to or volunteer with the SNCCF is encouraged to contact Zia Oboodiyat and the SNCCF board.
Special Need Children Center Foundation (SNCCF)
40087 Mission Blvd Suite 204, Fremont

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