The Cayman Islands Crisis Centre has a new public face that will enable the expansion of therapeutic and youth services for male and female clients.
Estella’s Place, located at Crown Square on Eastern Avenue, opened last week, launching the Teen and Young Adults Lounge, aftercare and outreach programs, an expanded crisis call center, and a café meeting area for domestic violence survivors and their families.
The facility’s name pays tribute to one of the Crisis Centre’s founders, Estella Scott-Roberts, who was murdered in 2008.
The “TAYA” Lounge is one of the hallmarks of the facility, offering a safe place for teens and young adults to hang out, explained child and youth program manager Nancy Davey.
“Essentially, it’s meant to be a place where teenagers can come and hang out after school or into the evening that’s safe and it’s a place where people who have differences of opinion or have different lifestyles are going to be welcomed and supported here,” Ms. Davey said.
The lounge will open Wednesdays and Fridays from 3-8 p.m. and Saturdays from noon to 8 p.m. Estella’s Place opens Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Ms. Davey has reached out to community partners to set up youth programs, including art therapy with the Wellness Centre’s Anne-Marie Diaz.
“The hope is to replace secrecy, shame and isolation with a sense of belonging, to feel understood by their peers. Art can be a good cushion for young people to open up more verbally because they can talk through the art and it can provide a bit of a comfort to them until they are able to be more open,” Ms. Diaz said.
Cayman Music Therapy’s Julianne Parolisi will offer music classes, including a music camp during the last week of February.
Center advocate Ronnie James Hughes is organizing weekly meetings at his gym, Krav Maga Cayman. He hopes the athletic program will offer an alternative outlet for young people to blow off steam, as opposed to using drugs or alcohol.
“When youngsters are exposed to confidence, it rubs off on them and shows them what being tough really means,” Mr. Hughes said.
The public office has also expanded the capacity of the Crisis Centre safe house, explained executive director Ania Milanowska.
The house often finds itself at capacity, especially around holidays, she said. By moving the administrative offices to Eastern Avenue, the house now has an additional bedroom, expanding capacity from 21 to 26 beds. The house took in 105 people in the 2014-2015 fiscal year, up from 56 just two years prior.
Given the house’s confidential location, Ms. Milanowska said there were many services it could not offer, including follow-up therapy and services for male victims of violence. Estella’s Place will now make those services a reality.
“It is accessible to a wider community, including children and their parents, teenagers, young adults, male victims of domestic violence and female victims who do not need safe shelter but would like to access our programs and services,” Ms. Milanowska said.
“Most importantly, it is a place where we can address the growing need for a center for troubled teenagers and young adults and will allow our clients to build and strengthen relationships with their families and other support systems.”
The public office has been a long-time vision for the center, made possible by extensive fundraising efforts and community support.
Crown Center owner Bobby Bodden renovated the facility, adding a second floor with two offices.
The facility also has 10 computers, donated by Conyers Dill & Pearman and installed by Integrity. Phone, internet and television services will be offered free of charge by FLOW.
Initial setup and facility opening were funded through a Hedge Funds Care grant.
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