New Brac centre reaches out to residents facing disabilities

Adults with learning disabilities in Cayman Brac are getting help from a new programme.

The Harmony Learning Centre is supporting and encouraging the continual growth and self-expression of people with developmental disabilities, to assist persons with disabilities to fully participate in family, social and community life and fostering positive and productive relationships among people with developmental disabilities and those who support them and ensuring continuous quality improvement.

Founder of the school Angela Fawkes explained the need for such an institution in Cayman Brac.

“We began to see the need for something like this after my sister came to live in the Brac just before Paloma. She was living with my mother, who had retired there after many years of work in Canada,” she said.

“Being disabled, we sent her back to Canada after the storm. That’s where we grew up. However, she did not want to stay there after her experience living in Cayman Brac and what we quickly learned was that there was no programme or facility there for her.”

It was then that Angela said she and her mother began researching the feasibility of creating a programme that would provide adults with learning disabilities with care and stimulation.

“We want to provide them an opportunity to advance in all areas of life through residential, vocational and recreational choices. These activities will focus on building their determination to lead full and satisfying lives. They will gain independence by having the freedom to be as self-governed as possible and will accomplish all this with dignity in taking pride in all that they do.”

According to Angela, inklings on the part of government on the Brac were shelved after Hurricane Ivan in 2004.

“We had the idea but no money to get it started, so we enlisted a lawyer to assist us in starting a nonprofit. After a year in the making we have finally gotten everything ready and are looking forward to launching soon.

As far as supplies and materials, Ms Fawkes explained that the school is off to a good start. However, she said that paying salaries is where they are experiencing difficulty.

The programme has pressed on with the launch of a Saturday morning social programme that allows participants to come together to play games and allows them to get out of the house. It takes place at the government high school from 10am to noon.

A 2002 study in Cayman Brac revealed 27 learning disabled individuals. Harmony Adult Learning Centre is directly affecting 18 of those people.

According to Ms Fawkes,parents will eventually be able to leave their loved ones at the programme unaccompanied.

When enough money comes in, “We hope to build a new facility that will specifically serve the programme and incorporate some physiotherapy at the same time.”

There are three volunteers assisting the programme, though organisers say they will be doing events to raise funds in the near future.

For more information on the Harmony Adult Centre contact Angela Fawkes at 925-9469.

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