Sunrise celebrates silver anniversary

| 02/11/2011

(CNS): Everyone at Sunrise Adult Training Centre (SRC) is inviting the community to join them in celebrating their 25 anniversary at an open day next Tuesday morning at the centre in West Bay. The newly appointed SRC Director Shari Smith encouraged the community to join in the silver anniversary celebrations at the centre that helps adults with special needs. Established in 1986, it provides opportunities for adults with disabilities (AWDs) to become responsible and productive residents.

Though several of the Centre’s 57 clients are in full or part-time employment, SRC staffers continue to seek similar opportunities for other clients.

“We welcome everyone to see just how SRC has positively affected the lives of special-needs individuals within our community,” she said. “There will be food, as well as talent and artwork on display, so come expecting to be entertained.”

The open house will be held at the Centre, located at 181 Powery Road in West Bay, from 10:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, 8 November. A thanksgiving service follows at 10:00 a.m. on Sunday, 13 November, at the Savannah United Church (on Astrial Way).

This month also marks an end of an era for the centre with the retirement after 21 years of the former director Roberta Gordon who has handed over to Shari Smith. Having been at the centre for a large part of its 25 years she said that she had witnessed it evolve from a small programme with a few local special needs clients to a comprehensive programme for clients residing throughout the Cayman Islands.

“When I joined the Centre there was 14 clients and five staff members. Today, 17 staffers assist 57 clients and that number is still growing.”

She has also seen the Centre move from a small location in the teacher’s cottage on the Sir John A. Cumber Primary School campus, to its current location. Since then the centre was enhanced with programmes including life skills training, music and art, vocational training and placement, and occupational therapy services.

At a policy level, Gordon sat on steering committees and planning teams in an effort to further the rights of persons living with disabilities. Her most recent involvement was with the Steering Committee for Planning the Future of Persons with Disabilities. Their mandate included proposing recommendations for a law which protects the rights of special-needs individuals.

The new director is no stranger to working with people with special needs individuals as she served as deputy principal and principal for the Lighthouse School. Having recently completed her third master’s degree – this one a clinical psychology qualification from Argosy University in Tampa, Florida – she is enthusiastic about her appointment, and committed to taking the Sunrise Adult Training Centre to new levels of service.

“I’ve always had a passion for working with persons with disabilities,” Mrs Smith noted, “I’m looking forward to working along with clients and their families, as well as staff and the Centre’s many stakeholders.”
Adding that there are still several individuals who are unable to benefit from the SRC’s programme because of space and location challenges she said, “The numbers have increased immensely, literally outgrowing the space we have available.”

As such, her priorities include revising programming and implementing relevant policies and procedures — and future development of a purpose-built facility.

“We have an awesome opportunity to be a shining model of quality services for the disabled,” she said. “As our clients transition from the Lighthouse School into our Centre, or into the world of work, we want to ensure that we are equipping them for the daily challenges they will face as adults within their communities.”


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