RunKuwait is a charitable initiative founded by Fawzia Sultan Healthcare Network (FSHN). The objective of the upcoming charity race at Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah Causeway on November 23rd, running in its 9th year, is to raise awareness and funds for our non-profit Children’s Evaluation and Rehabilitation Center, which is the pediatric branch of FSHN. The fundraiser allows us to facilitate access to free or low-cost rehabilitative care such as speech therapy, physical therapy, occupational and behavioral therapy for children with special needs, especially those with limited financial resources.

“RunKuwait is a community-based event, we encourage the participation of people of all ages and abilities to show support for children with disabilities. The run or walk is available in two distances – 5km or 10km. The event is designed to be a fun day for all, including family-friendly activities. It is a great opportunity to share personal experiences, emotionally support families with children with disabilities, socialize with others, and have fun.” – Maraheb Al Qallaf

We had the chance to interview two women that are part of this cause, to learn more about what they do and how RunKuwait helps the community.

Tell us a little about yourself.

Rouba Khair: I have experience in rehabilitating children with a wide range of growth and developmental disorders; including Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), developmental delay, sports injuries, burns, spinal conditions, traumatic brain and spine injuries, genetic disorders and congenital anomalies, torticollis and brachial plexus injuries, and cerebral palsy (CP). In my approach to treatment, I focus on developing individualized and holistic treatment programs based on assessments of each child’s physical abilities, motor skills, and overall development. I also work closely with families to help them make informed decisions about the child’s care, as well as counseling both parents and teachers on how to support a child’s development. I completed my Master of Science in Physical Therapy for growth and developmental disorders and its surgery in children in 2010 at Cairo University. Before that, I earned a Bachelor of Sciences in Physical Therapy in 2002 from O6U (October 6 University) in Egypt, and recently I got my certification as a licensed sensory integration therapist from Ulster University in the UK.

Maraheb Al-Qallaf: I am a speech-language pathologist. My specialty includes identifying and treating children with delayed speech and language, as well as feeding and swallowing disorders. I also work with children with an articulation disorder, cerebral palsy, auditory processing disorder, dyslexia, global developmental delay, and genetic disorders (e.g., down syndrome, fragile X, William’s syndrome…).

I completed my bachelor’s degree in Communication Disorders with a double minor in American Sign Language and Psychology in Boston, Massachusetts-USA. Then, I completed my master’s degree specializing in Speech-Language Pathology at the New York Medical College in New York, USA. I am also certified by the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association (ASHA). 

Tell us about your work with RunKuwait.

RK: I have been with CERC since the start and have seen firsthand how RunKuwait has helped increase awareness about children with different needs. Children with disabilities can achieve a lot and live a good quality of life, and RunKuwait is able to directly support this. This is precisely why, as a community, it is vital to support such initiatives to allow me as a clinician to deliver treatment to these children.

MQ: RunKuwait is significant not only to our clinic but also to me as a speech therapist in Kuwait. Kuwait has a diverse population, and being able to raise awareness, treat children, and support families from disadvantaged backgrounds is extremely important to me as a clinician. Children can often have multiple difficulties that require ongoing support, making it challenging for families to afford. RunKuwait provides vital funds to allow the continued and comprehensive care of such families. 

Since its launch, do you already feel that this race has raised enough awareness, and in what way?

RK: Definitely, many wait until November so they can join the race, now in its 9th year. It’s a family event; people can run and walk and even bring their children to participate. It is a great achievement for people to join and run for a cause. Events like these bring communities together.

MQ: RunKuwait was launched in 2010, and since then, the participants’ numbers have been increasing annually. This not only shows Kuwait’s commitment to supporting families in need but also demonstrates the continued commitment of the population to support our cause. Globally there is a recognition that fair access to care for all is essential; it is fantastic to see that Kuwait is also involved in this global effort. 

In our region, charitable initiatives have existed for years, but don’t always get the spotlight. Why do you think that is the case?

RK: I think the awareness of special needs in children and the services that support families have increased lately. Social media has a significant impact on sharing valuable knowledge about factual information, families’ stories, and their experiences with disorders like Autism, ADHD, Cerebral Palsy.

MQ: This is correct, especially as donating to charity is part of Kuwait’s culture and tradition, and so is seen as part of ‘normal’ life. It is only recently that more established non-profit/charitable organizations have gained formal recognition for their work in the local region. Charitable organizations/non-profit organizations are gaining increased attention in supporting all populations in the region, instead of donations mainly targeted towards other developing countries, like the African/Asian projects.

What do you hope to achieve after this year’s race?

RK: We would like to be able to raise more funds so we can treat more children and support families. We would like to have the opportunity to raise awareness and promote early intervention projects, something the funds will allow CERC to do. 

MQ: It is hoped that participants in the run can link with our social media accounts, Instagram: @fshn_kw. Here they can gain more awareness through the various educational information we post. This, in turn, will help support parents and the public in suitable identification and treatment of children in need.