2011: shortage of shelter for children with multiple limitations

It could happen to you. You have a child with multiple limitations but there is no specialized shelter in your own region, Mechelen- Zemst-Vilvoorde. The closest day center for non-school going children are in Duffel and Leefdaal, but there are endless waiting lists and to reach an adapted nursery school for extraordinary education you have on average two hours in route with the bus.

Also at the regular day-care centers there are notably long waiting lists in the region Mechelen-Zemst-Vilvoorde. On top of that often these day-care centers don’t feel competent to shelter children with additional care needs.

And why do you need to decide so early if your child will go to school or not when you actually just want to wait to see the development of your baby.

Early 2012: the dream becomes reality

Katleen Ballon, pediatrician, and Mieke De Strooper, orthopedagoge, wanted to change all of this. Via Tom Dehaene they met entrepreneur Katia Verhaeren. She was actively looking for a meaningful project that could be housed on the former family domain of the family Verhaeren. All parties sat enthusiastically around the table and a short time later the non-profit association Villa Clementina was born.

The logo became the fresh and fruity clementine with multiple segments that represent the different parts of the organization. Each has their own reason for existence but together they form an integrated whole. In short, an organization with spirit! Designer of the logo is Niel Liesmons, student of Industrial Design.

Summer 2012: Villa Clementina is taking shape

After this everything went into high gear. The province Vlaams-Brabant awarded a startup grant that allowed the work to start on the villa.

The search for funds also intensified. The non-profit organization received from Kind en Gezin a principle approval for 22 income-related places, a guarantee to be affordable for parents.

To keep the project alive – pending the necessary grants from the authorities – the non-profit organization organized – with success – a variety of fundraising activities: a living room concert with the Belgian `Kamerfilharmonie`, a jazz concert with the city musician Frank Vagané, and a sultry Brazilian dance evening. Minister of State, Jean-Luc Dehaene, who gave all of the proceeds from his ‘Memoires’ to Villa Clementina, spoke at a business diner and a partnership with the brewery Het Anker was developed. Local service clubs were also addressed.

Fall 2012: now it really starts

Selection of our dream team of our healthcare staff, conversations with the parents and children, volunteers, under the supervision of our volunteer coordinators Claire Leclef and Veerle Mollekens, prepared everything for the start in January 2013. There was already a waiting list before the end of the year for children with limitations and the other places filled up fast to. The need was real!   

Spring 2013: Villa Clementina opens its doors!

January 9 was D-day! The doors of the Villa opened to take care of the first children. Since that day, there has been a lot of fun activity, the staff becomes routine and children find their place there ...

The official opening will take place on 2 March in the presence of godmother Marieke Vervoort, godfather Rudi Vranckx, Zemst's mayor Bart Coopman and Flemish Minister of Welfare, Public Health and Family Jo Vandeurzen.

November 7, 2013: As much as possible in society and as little as possible exceptional and separate, that is the starting point of the memorandum 'Perspective 2020', the new support policy for people with disabilities by the Flemish Minister of Welfare, Public Health and Family Jo Vandeurzen. ” In implementation of Perspective 2020, the Flemish government decided to increase the budget for inclusive childcare recurrently by 0.5 million euros, ”said Minister Vandeurzen. Among other things, the Centers for Inclusive Childcare are being established. In this way, the minister wants to work towards a society in which all children are given a place, starting with the youngest. “The Centers for Inclusive Childcare realize inclusive childcare and also support other facilities in the region in the realization of inclusive childcare. They are embedded intra- and intersectoral, ”says Minister Vandeurzen. From 42 application files, 16 projects were selected: in addition to the Leuven City Council and the VZW Landelijke Kinderopvang, VZW Villa Clementina was also selected for the province of Flemish Brabant! The recognition of our quest!