The GCC society experiences an increase in the number of children with special needs. It is following such pressure that HKCSN feels the need to provide these individuals with the opportunity to exploit their talents. The initiative provides a partnership chance where brands can contribute to society through cultural learning and artistic programs. HKCSN is a Dubai based initiative, which targets children and families from different nationalities.
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HKCSN is the first-of-its-kind entertainment and learning center in the GCC, and it offers a wide variety of services to children with special needs using modern technologies. Today, in less than a year since its inception, HKCSN has registered more than 500 members and delivered care to over more than a thousand clients, generating millions in revenues. With rapid demands, HKCSN intends to hire more specialists and improve the quality of services. This strategy is intended to position HKCSN as the number one brand in the GCC region for all nationalities and in support of Dubai as the therapeutic city by 2012.
For most families, entertainment, learning, and recreational facilities are the stuff of delightful childhood reminiscences, for instance, the first rollercoaster plunge. However, these facilities can also come with disappointment to many families, for instance, due to height or age requirements.
For children in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with a disability or special needs, a visit to an entertainment or learning center or an amusement park may present more disappointments. Facilities for children in the UAE, including Children’s City and other public facilities, are not fully accessible to children with special needs, others with rare conditions, or others with mental or physical disabilities.
Nearly no facilities for children, for instance, rides are equipped with a special wheelchair for disabled children. Additionally, some kids with special illnesses may have more challenges with long queues or crowded areas, which are common instances in these recreational centers and learning facilities.
The idea for Happy Knowledge Centre for Special Needs (HKCSN) came about after looking across the UAE for facilities and places in which other special needs children could learn, interact, have fun, exploit their talents, and get the treatment they needed in childhood. HKCSN established that there was not much in the country. Although Dubai Park strives to be friendly for populations with disabilities, the facilities are not customized to meet diverse specific needs of users (Al Serkal 2014).
Some workplaces, parking lots, offices, buildings, or school areas in Dubai are at least somewhat friendly to adults with disabilities, but not for children with disabilities or special needs. Further, the same extent of consideration for offices and other areas has not been adopted into entertainment, recreational, and learning facilities for children with disabilities. For example, an inclusion program may be in place in some schools, but there are no teachers, and schools are not equipped to cater for such disabled children (El Sawy 2016).
HKCSN decided to offer solutions by providing a center where children with disabilities could learn, get entertained, and use their talent. They are accommodated and acknowledged by everyone. HKCSN is fully accessible to children with or without disabilities or special needs.
HKCSN opened in 2017 in Dubai, and it is the first and only facility in the Gulf region, which is 100 percent accessible to children with special needs and disabilities. HKCSN is equipped with facilities to meet the diverse needs of its target customers. Staff members possess their right skills to accommodate and be patient with users. The thinking was that a child in a wheelchair should have a similar experience as a walking child would have.
HKCSN recognized that a huge market exists in the Gulf region for this kind of experience. While it remains unclear how many children with special needs are in the UAE due to lack of statistics, numerous anecdotal accounts have shown that children with special needs are many in the UAE and their parents and guardians are gradually seeking for help from specialized facilities.
HKCSN understands that having a special needs child can take a toll on parents and guardians, and costs associated with raising such children is relatively higher than raising normal kids.
While the constitution protects all persons, many children with disabilities have been rejected across many facilities in Dubai with the claims of inadequate space or no specialists.
HKCSN strives to provide the best facilities to facilitate physical accessibility and usability. The facility is equipped with the best technologies, equipment, and qualified staff. Rules are generally favorable to enhance usability while offering maximum safety. The intention is to allow special needs children to interact freely, play freely, and with ease in a user-friendly environment. That is, HKCSN is a place where parents can take their special needs children because everyone comprehends what takes place with regard to learning, play, and interaction.
Dubai’s Vision 2021 is to be a therapeutic tourist city for all visitors and residents, and HKCSN wants to be a part of this vision by acknowledging several issues.
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- HKSCN recognizes children with special needs as part of the community. It prioritizes investing in them.
- It sees entertainment and learning services as the rights of these children with special needs.
- The initiative provides the opportunity to maximize the potential of the children with special needs.
- Many people and organizations, including the Special Olympics, have engaged in providing various opportunities for the child with special needs.
HKCSN derives it competitive advantage from its resources. That is, facility equipment, technology, and qualified staff.
At HKCSN, we believe any child’s unique abilities should be identified, developed, and celebrated. The facility is equipped with a wide range of equipment to support unique needs of children with disabilities and other chronic conditions. Every program has activities that are developed and tailored to meet the needs of every child served by altering strategies to accountant for all children, irrespective of their physical, cognitive, emotional, or developmental drawbacks. HKCSN designs these programs with the thinking that every child will take part, learn new skills, get entertained, and take on many more new challenges by concentrating on what every child can accomplish, rather than their weaknesses.
HKCSN relies on evidence-based practices to observe and aid certain targeted goals and objectives acknowledged by parents, caregivers, physicians, and/or teachers that are classified within the four domains. These areas include social activities and interaction, health, and hygiene skills, activities involving daily living and self-care and/or behavior strategies.
Some of the equipment currently installed at the facility include adaptive classroom seating; strollers; therapy systems; swings, special needs; bolsters/rolls; universal accessories; seating; balance bikes; bicycles and tricycles, special needs; gait trainers; standers; toileting / commodes; gross motor; and fine motor among others. Additionally, HKCSN has developed various activities, such as team building; arts and crafts; horseback riding; talent shows; parties; sports and games; guest presenters and entertainers; and nature programs. Further, all other outdoor equipment are also disabled friendly.
In creative programs, kids are encouraged to engage their natural instinct for invention. As such, HKCSN fosters adventuring in artistic world with a range of dynamic media, from clay, to paints, to crayons to paper, pencil, and glue among others.
For better outcomes, HKCSN offers a special needs child therapy derived from recreational therapy and sensory integration theory. The therapy uses recreation and other activity-based approaches to enhance cognitive, physical, social and emotional developments in children with special needs, such as autism, down syndrome, sensory processing disorders (SPD), pervasive development disorder (PDD), ADD/ADHD, and children with hypotonic (low muscle tone), and emotional and mental behavioral issues. HKCSN has also developed an intervention for kids who require individualized attention.
This unique intervention ensures one on one child to therapist ratio, while utilizing the user-friendly indoor playgrounds with other kids and families, resulting in a unique inclusive environment. The gym is particularly customized for therapeutic intervention for core strengthening, enhancing coordination, and development of gross and fine motor skills, as well as improving movement and gravitational challenges and sensory issues.
Some of the assistive technologies used at HKCSN include audio players and recorders; timers; reading guides; inflatable seat cushions; frequency modulation (FM) systems; writing support systems; and graphic organizers among others.
HKCSN staff members receive intensive training to offer a supportive environment where children with special needs feel both physically and mentally safe to take part in any activity. By ensuring a low child to specialist of 5:1 or better, HKCSN concentrates on every child’s strengths and abilities.
The specialists ensure that kids achieve important developmental, behavioral, functional gains, which they can acquire and apply across many settings. Children truly acquire a sense of belonging and identify that HKCSN is a special place for them. HKCSN specialists include special needs children teachers, recreational therapists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, speech therapists, and psychological therapists.
Parents can play too! HKCSN encourages parent involve and interaction with their kids during open happy hour. While HKCSN provides different programs and experts to offer guidance and assistance, it appreciates that there is nothing more rewarding for a parent as observing first-hand and engaging in their kid’s experience, discovery, and development.
In addition to an amazing play center, HKCSN strives for excellence.
- HKSCN is the first specialized entertainment Centre in Dubai for children with special needs.
- It offers therapies for kids with special needs and developmental delays.
- HKCSN provides learning opportunities to children with special needs.
The company’s core values help to drive the unfair advantage.
Core values: Aspiration, belonging, courage, creativity, joy, authenticity, care, excellence, and openness.
Sales and Marketing
Main marketing messages are directed to the entire target customers, all parents with children with special needs in the GCC. They are simple, straightforward statements, which all customers comprehend.
- HKCSN is an innovation center dedicated to entertaining and developing skills of children with special needs using modern equipment and technologies. The first-of-its-kind center in the GCC allows hundreds of children with different disabilities across the region to realize their potential and prove their abilities in society.
This marketing strategy positions HKCSN and ensures it is promoted, marketed, and sold more than other competing brands. In addition, this marketing plan will reposition the product as modern, versatile, easy to use, and highly effective through creating an advertisement campaign for the intended consumers.
- The main objective of this sales and marketing plan is to create and increase HKCSN brand awareness among consumers by 50% and realize 70% in sales within one year.
Target population and demographics
HKCSN targets all parents and guardians of all ages with special needs children across Dubai.
In a market where consumer attention is increasingly becoming hard to get due to various messages from diverse media, the most effective strategy lies in the 4Ps of marketing (price, product, place, and promotion), which have been tested and proven.
HKCSN recognizes the financial strains associated with raising children with disabilities. For instance, it now costs AED200 per hour to enroll an autistic child and another AED500 per hour for therapy charges (Nazzal 2013). Hence, HKCSN wants to remove this burden from parents through low pricing strategy. HKCSN charges AED100 per hour for services and AED300 per visit for all therapies.
HKCSN is the first-of-its-kind entertainment and learning center in the GCC, and it offers a wide variety of services to children with special needs using modern technologies. These services include therapies, learning, parties, building; arts and crafts; horseback riding; talent shows; sports and games; guest presenters and entertainers; and nature programs. This product strategy strives to attract all children with various developmental challenges. Learning takes place through robots, smart boards, smart books and screens, a 3-D printer, and other interactive equipment to ensure creative and change in kids with disabilities.
Place or Distribution Strategy
HKCSN is located in AlKhawaneej, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, which has a huge population in the UAE, and it accounts for a significant number of expatriates. HKCSN works with the related organizations, such as the Autism Trust Foundation (ATF) in Dubai, the Government, several mainstream schools that have made a sustained effort to integrate special needs children, but lack capacities, and the Knowledge and Human Development Authority and Abu Dhabi Education Council of enhance inclusion. HKCSN intends to open other centers in Abu Dhabi within the second year of operation.
HKCSN uses both modern and traditional media to promote its brand. Notably, HKCSN has significant exposure following the reality TV talk shows and working with parents of children with special needs. HKCSN has also placed its services on the Internet. Additionally, direct visits to various centers and care facilities by key leaders of the company have also promoted the brand. Further, personal promotion adopted puts HKCSN as a caring, welcoming center where every child is cared for and understood through individualized attention. Personal contacts have been heavily used to get in touch with parents to come, tour the facility, and then make their decisions. As such, the strategy delivers the HKCSN’s message, shows the uniqueness, and builds stronger relationships with current and potential clients.
Sales promotions and public relations have been significantly integrated as promotional strategies. For example, HKCSN dedicates the Month of Giving every year to encourage special needs children from various backgrounds to experience the facility.
Omni-channel approach is recommended for the company (Piotrowicz and Cuthbertson 5; Fabio 23).
- Billboard campaigns along the major roads and city spaces in Dubai with clear messages about HKCSN
Radio promotions highlight facilities at HKCSN. The following radio channels are popular:
- Dubai FM;
- Emarat FM;
- Abu Dhabi FM;
- Pravasi Bharathi 810 AM;
- Al Oula.
- Dubai TV;
- MBC Drama;
- Dubai News Channel;
- Emirates Channel;
- Al Aan TV;
- Al Jazirah TV.
Additionally, TV ads should also appear at the periods when majorities watch at home, perhaps, in the morning and late night.
- HKCSN uses YouTube to stream online videos about HKCSN and available services.
- Facebook offers a platform for majorities in the UAE and beyond in a cost-effective manner.
- Instagram photos are used to convey possible messages about HKCSN.
HKCSN usually launches a more persuasive Internet promotions and interviews for the target audience. The company’s main page is clean, carefully classified, and easy to navigate. Here, visitors to the site can explore various services, facilities, and technical expertise of the staff. Additionally, YouTube promotions, newsletters, interviews, evidence-based studies, and other useful materials are available for presentation for users.
HKCSN is certainly not alone in this market. There were at least 70 special needs centers, mainly schools, across the UAE in 2015. Additionally, some parents also insist that nannies must accompany their children with special needs because they are relatively affordable compared to trained teachers or care providers (Pennington 2017). Thus, competition is both formal and informal.
Some of the major competitors include Al Noor Centre for Children with Special Needs, Autism Trust Foundation School Dubai, British Institute for Learning Development, Child Early Intervention Medical Center, Greenfield Community School, Yellow Brick Road Nursery, and SNF Children Development Center among others (DubaiFAQs 2015).
HKCSN applies SWOT (strengths and weaknesses and opportunities and threats) analysis to understand its position relative to the competition. The management team often makes strategic decisions and takes actions to support organizational growth (Oreski 2012). SWOT is a commonly used analytical tool to account for both internal and external factors influence the environment in which a firm operates.
|Strengths ||Weaknesses |
|Opportunities ||Threats |
For competitors, HKCSN has noted that some publicly available facilities are unwilling to accept children with special needs, and they suffer a shortage in qualified staff and charge high costs for services. Further, some competitors, such as Safe Center, have limited capacity for less than 100 children. Hence, majorities are on the waiting list.
HKCSN continuously utilizes its strengths to improve on the weaknesses, exploit opportunities, and counter threats to establish the mainstream center for children with special needs.
To generate revenues, HKCSN has adopted membership and enrolment charges and fees for services ordered (Goldman 2012).
Initiation and enrolment fees are charged. HKCSN charges an enrolment fee of AED50 per child enrolled at the facility. This fee allows them access to the facility, in addition to the membership fee, which is AED1,200 per annum for families. Membership fees allow members to gain access to the facility throughout the year for entertainment services, get discounts on service charges and free resource materials published by HKCSN.
Fees are the largest sources of revenues for HKCSN. HKCSN charges extremely lower costs for services offered. For instance, all services offered except therapies cost AED100 per hour per child while therapies cost AED300 per visit per child.
For families with economic hardship, HKCSN has developed special fees for them to ensure that the Center does not exclude children with special needs who lack better facilities.
HKCSN recognizes the need to generate more revenues from sources other than membership. User expectation is met based on the services they pay for and expectations for their children. HKCSN is a year-round business focused on inclusion and excellent services for customers.
HKCSN recognizes that the forecast section is an important aspect of the business plan. It directly reflects the market analysis conditions, competitive edge, marketing plan and pricing strategies. HKCSN uses a low pricing strategy to generate more revenues. The company’s revenue is projected to grow at the rate ranging between 5% and 15% across the five projected fiscal years. HKCSN strives to maintain the growth in expenses below 10% each year in order to grow the profits year-over-year. The increase in expenses will result from additional workforce, while more revenue is expected from therapy services. Only a small fraction of the revenue is generated from initiation and membership fees.
These figures are most likely to increase further over the years because HKCSN has a capacity to handle more than 2,000 service requests to customers. Moreover, it will increase the capacity to meet the rising market demands.
A team of professionals led by the CEO runs HKCSN. It strives to acquire the best talents in the region where such professionals are usually difficult to hire and retain.
The CEO, Shaikha: Shaikha is an investor, educator, and behavior analyst, with over 15 years of experience working with children with special needs of different ages and abilities, focusing on kids with autism spectrum disorders. As a therapist and behavior analyst, Shaikha recognizes the daily struggle of children with disabilities and strain on their families. The CEO intends to build the best learning and entertainment facilities in the region for special needs kids.
Marketing and operations specialist, Al Fayah: Al Fayah graduated from the State College with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology in 20005. After graduating, Al Fayah has worked in special needs center for kids for eight years. Additionally, Al Fayah worked in the marketing department for more than three years as a market analyst and researcher. At HKCSN, Al Fayah is responsible for much of the operational management, as well as meeting visitors and organizing classes and therapies.
Occupational Therapist, Amina: Amina has worked with diverse clients including adolescents with mental health disorders, accident victims of spinal cord injuries, and other patients with orthopedic injuries. Amina’s favorite client is the pediatrics. She uses a client-centered approach and emphasizes the role of the family in developing and implementing the intervention plan that accounts for social interactions, cognitive and physical development, and enhancing independent daily living.
Recreational Therapist, Samina: Samina is a certified recreational therapist with over 12 years of experience. Samina’s work is seen as innovative, resourceful, and highly effective. Samina observes that kids learn most when they consider learning as a part of playing. Thus, all therapeutic interventions tend to be fun, involving, and slightly challenging enough to assist children to realize their developmental goals and potentials.
Speech therapist, Alima: Alima has over 15 years of work experience with children who have communication disorders, including expressive disorders, such as apraxia, grammar, and phonologic, as well as receptive e.g., auditory processing. In addition, she is a language development, feeding and swallowing disorders, and attention, behavioral and sensory specialist.
Financial analyst, Godana: Godana has worked with a multinational firm in Dubai for seven years as a financial analyst. At HKCSN, he is responsible for analyzing financial data to show HKCSN’s financial status, performing cost and benchmarking analyzes, preparing budget reports, advising senior management team on financial planning, and forecast possible financial performance.
Status and Milestones
- HKSCN is in its first year of operation and, thus, not much has been realized. Nonetheless, some fundamental contributions have been noted.
- HKSCN successfully negotiated with the government for a tax waiver for a period of ten years to encourage growth and investment in the company to enhance inclusion and capacity.
- HKSCN is currently engaged in brand awareness campaigns. It intends to expect over 50% increment in brand awareness.
The company has observed that much of its revenue emanates from therapy service fees and only a small fraction comes from membership fees. As such, HKSCN wants to enhance service quality and hire more professionals to meet the rising demands. HKSCN has decided to improve value as a more relevant strategy than short-term revenues. Thus, the current investment targets increased value for special needs kids and their families (Kaiser & Lee 2015).
There are no any plans for expansion or acquisition in the current fiscal year.
Al Serkal, MM 2014, ‘Disability-friendly parks in Dubai by 2016‘, Gulf News. Web.
DubaiFAQs 2015, List of special needs centers in Dubai. Web.
El Sawy, N 2016, ‘Parents of special needs children say UAE schools lack funds and infrastructure‘. Web.
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Goldman, S 2012, Health clubs count on ancillary revenue more than you think. Web.
Kaiser, LS & Lee, TH 2015, ‘Turning value-based health care into a real business model‘, Harvard Business Review. Web.
Nazzal, N 2013, ‘Special needs integrated school to open in Dubai‘, Gulf News. Web.
Oreski, D 2012, ‘Strategy development by using SWOT – AHP’, TEM Journal, vol. 1, no. 4, pp. 283-291.
Pennington, R 2017, ‘UAE parents shun special needs assistants in favour of cheaper nannies‘, The National. Web.
Piotrowicz, W & Cuthbertson, R 2014, ‘Introduction to the special issue: information technology in retail: toward omnichannel retailing’, International Journal of Electronic Commerce, vol. 18, no. 4, pp. 5-16.