Local coffee shop provides a kind space for all

Micaela Steenberg, Sammi Rundle, Kim Rundle and Jesse Halfon stand outside the Special Knead Café in Magaliessig. Photo: Robyn Kirk

In a small wooden structure behind the Fluffs n Tufts Groomers off of Sangster Road in Magaliessig, a few Fourways residents are trying to change the world for special needs adults.

The Special Kneads Café, which opened at the beginning of May, is a non-profit company which employs special needs adults. Co-founded by Jenny Emslie, Niki Elliott (who also owns Fluffs and Tufts) and Kim Rundle, the company will be run by Jenny’s son and chef Chris Emslie, Kim’s daughter Sammi Rundle and two other special needs adults Phehello Masitha and Michaela Steenberg.

“You don’t understand how scary it is to be a special needs mom,” Kim Rundle told the Fourways Review. “There is nothing [in terms of employment] out there for them, and so they just sit at home and are taken care of by their parents.

“I stay up at night worrying, and think to myself ‘I can’t die’ because then what will happen to Sammi and her two special needs siblings if I’m gone?”

Sammi Rundle and Micaela Steenberg are two of the special needs adults who found employment at the café because of Kim Rundle, who is assisted by volunteers like Jesse Halfon. Photo: Robyn Kirk

Sammi is affected by autism and dyslexia and struggled to read and write until about a year ago when she was taught by Axel Gudmundsson of the Davis Autism and Dyslexia Foundation. Her struggles with literacy, as well as the fact that those with special needs sometimes need longer than a neurotypical person to complete tasks, has meant that finding a job has been difficult.

Seeing the struggles that Sammi and the others went through in traditional employment, Kim and the others decided that it was time to create a coffee shop of their own.

“Besides just earning a living, we also needed to find something where these young adults can find others like them. She needed her tribe, as special needs can be quite lonely.

“The same can be said for special needs moms – we’re lonely. This cafe is a place where people can come and feel like part of a family. Bring your disabled friends, bring your dogs, bring your schools and clubs, everyone is welcome. We’ve created a kind space, where people must have patience and understanding.”

The Special Knead Cafe has come up with a simple but effective way for customers to order food from special needs staff. Photo: Robyn Kirk

Kim firmly believes that people with special needs need to be allowed to follow their dreams and passions just like everyone else, and that we as a country and a society need to change the way we think about the disabled and embrace them as they are.

“Statistically, one out of 56 people will have autism, everything needs to change. Opening a coffee shop was not my purpose, my purpose is to go to parliament and continue to be an autism advocate. I also want to see one of these establishments in every town and on every corner.”

The Special Knead Cafe is open Tuesday to Saturday from 8.30am until 5pm. They are looking for volunteers to help run the cafe as well as a car to help chef Chris Emslie to transport his baked goods from his home to the cafe each day. Please visit the cafe’s Facebook page for more information.

Details: Special Knead Café Facebook page.

Talk to us about this story by emailing our news editor on [email protected]

  AUTHOR
Robyn Kirk
Journalist

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