It was once again standing room only at the Sunrise Adult Training Centre’s annual Christmas concert at the John Gray Memorial Church hall in West Bay Church, one of the organization’s long-standing community partners.
The Wednesday, Dec. 2 event brought the community together in a rousing celebration of the Christmas season. This year’s production, “Three Wise Men and a Baby,” was a lighthearted take on the movie comedy and story of the three wise men on a quest to find baby Jesus, told from the perspective of the stars in Heaven, reminiscing about the night Jesus was born.
A cast of more than 30 featured Chalice Smith, John White and Gabriella Terry as the re-imagined Wise Men, Elvisbar, Garthsbar and Jamesbar – each a singing and appropriately costumed version of music stars Elvis Presley, Garth Brooks and James Brown. Tessa Terry played the Star that led the three Wise Men to the Holy Family.
A variety of music and dance, from traditional to modern, were woven through and performed by all the Sunrise clients with the assistance of the talented staff.
“The Sunrise Adult Training Centre is a department within the Ministry of Education which provides vocational training and support, life skills training, supported employment opportunities and community inclusion opportunities through recreational outings to adults with disabilities,” said program manager Kimberly Voaden.
“We serve clients with many different kinds of disabilities, including but not limited to cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, spina bifida, vision and hearing impairment, autism spectrum disorders, ADHD, specific learning disabilities, and genetic conditions. We are very proud of our production as it showcases our clients’ many talents and the skills of our staff as well.”
Indeed, the elaborate costumes and sets were a true collaborative effort by clients and staff.
This year’s show was also special in that the performers incorporated their newly acquired skills in Makaton sign language, an international simplified sign language designed to support spoken language appropriate for clients with communicative and cognitive difficulties.
“We think it’s the first time the Cayman National Song, ‘Beloved Isle Cayman,’ has been signed, which is worth celebrating for its true inclusiveness,” Ms. Voaden said.
The concept of inclusiveness was particularly important this year, as Dec. 3, the day after the show, was the United Nations Day of Persons with Disabilities, with this year’s theme being access and empowerment for people of all abilities.
“The theme of this day speaks to the right of all people, no matter their disability to participate in public life, and the concert was a perfect way to accomplish this theme locally,” said Ms. Voaden. “We were so pleased with the engagement and wonderful effect on self esteem that taking part in the concert had for our clients. The whole lead-up to the show, memorizing their lines, practicing and preparing was a great way for our clients to work on their skills development. Plus, of course, the concert is a great way for the wider community to appreciate what our clients are able to do.”
Ms. Voaden was delighted there was an overwhelming level of support from those in attendance and much praise for the performance, and said to stay tuned for news about the Sunrise center’s spring concert coming up at the Harquail Theatre in 2016.