CLASP International's founder, Shannon Benton, took her first visit to Zambia in 2007 and it proved to be a fateful one. It paved the way for the rest of her career as a passionate humanitarian, and eventually, the introduction of Speech-Language Pathology as a profession and tool for special needs awareness in Zambia. Her vision was founded on equal parts direct health care services, education, and international humanitarian efforts; thus were the humble beginnings of CLASP International.
The 2007 visit showed Shannon the dire realities of children and adults with physical and mental disabilities living in countries that lack the health care infrastructure to support them. They are sometimes casted out by society, neglected by their communities, and shoved under beds by their parents. Some consider these individuals subhuman, cursed at birth and undeserving of support or understanding. As a Speech Language Pathologist and sister to a brother with a learning disability, Shannon felt compelled to construct a resolution to these injustices. CLASP International (Connective Link Among Special need Programs) was founded in 2009, with a mission to create sustainable systems for individuals to access rehabilitation services, while duly creating awareness around special needs. CLASP International’s first initiative in this movement was to bring Speech Language Pathology to developing countries through higher education training programs.
In partnership with the University of Zambia, CLASP International implemented a Master of Education program in Speech, Language, and Communication Disorders. 18 students graduated December 7,2015 with this degree. They will work in the Zambian school systems as well as privately to help children with disabilities.
Thank you for supporting CLASP International and helping give a voice to the voiceless.