Cabinet to Sunrise Centre

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(From left) The Premier, Hon. McKeeva Bush, OBE, and HE the Governor, Mr. Duncan Taylor, CBE, view the Sunrise Wall of History with recently appointed Sunrise Centre Director Shari Smith.

Published 24th December 2011, 9:25am

Delaying Cabinet for a few hours, several members of the Cayman Islands Government helped clients and staff at the Sunrise Adult Training Centre (SRC) celebrate a milestone -- their 25th anniversary.

HE the Governor, Mr. Duncan Taylor, CBE, and the Premier, Hon. McKeeva Bush, OBE, accompanied by Education, Training & Employment Minister, the Hon. Rolston Anglin, JP -- under whose portfolio the SRC falls -- received a guided tour of the Centre, meeting staff and clients along the way.

Other members of the Government delegation were Deputy Governor, Hon. Donovan Ebanks, MBE; Minister of Community Affairs, Gender and Housing, Hon. Michael Adam, MBE; Member of the Legislative Assembly Cline Glidden Jr.; Cabinet Secretary Orrett Connor, MBE, and Education Ministry Chief Officer Mary Rodrigues.

On entering, guests were greeted by an enthusiastic Anita Ebanks who gave them each colourful wristbands commemorating the Centre's anniversary.

This was followed by a stop at the Sunrise Wall of History on which newspaper clippings and photos chronicled the Centre's quarter century existence.

Prominent among the mementoes was a clipping recording the visit of Miss World 1987 Giselle LaRonde. She was accompanied by then Miss Cayman Deborah Cridland (now Bergstrom), Miss USA Halle Berry and Miss Jamaica Lisa Mahfood.

Later, guests proceeded to meet clients in the physical and occupational therapy rooms, then life skills, art and music therapy classes.

Commenting on the SRC's work Minister Anglin said, "The Centre's impact has been tremendous in our community. We've gone from a time when even educated people thought that persons with disabilities were contagious, to one where they are accepted, respected, deserve the same rights as all other citizens and have numerous opportunities to obtain technical and vocational training.

"The Centre focuses on giving persons with disabilities independence and getting them what they deserve as citizens, that is, the ability to lead an independent life."

Echoing his sentiments Governor Taylor said he had a personal perspective on the value of the SRC's role due to his experience with his son who has a learning disability.

"He's 24 now and we're hoping he'll be able to lead a fairly independent life. But raising him has made me particularly sensitive to the challenges that persons with disabilities face. Caregivers must display a lot of patience, love and support, so I'm heartened to witness the wonderful work of the staff here at Sunrise."

But beyond the work of SRC staff, Cabinet officials also hope to find money in the budget to construct a purpose-built facility to which the SRC can be relocated.

Among the obvious challenges facing the Centre's staff was the need for space and resources. Both Premier Bush and Minister Anglin indicated the Government's commitment to ensuring the construction of adequate facilities where additional services could be offered.

Minister Anglin also mentioned that they are working steadily towards passing legislation which protects the rights of special-needs individuals. He said it is important that this coincides with the implementation of the Bill of Rights.

Thankful for the group's visit, newly appointed SRC Director Shari Smith said, "Cabinet's visit today is significant for the clients and programme because it shows that we have the support of our ministry and the entire government.

"But more importantly, it helped them to see the gaps in funding, staffing, programming and space, and to realise the need for the continued growth of this programme."

Established in 1986 the Sunrise Adult Training Centre provides opportunities for adults with disabilities to become responsible and productive residents. Clients receive life-skills and pre-vocational training, participate in recreational and fitness activities, and are assisted with supervised job placements.