Basseterre, St. Kitts, February 15, 2018 (S.T.E.P.) — February 14 is universally observed as Valentine’s Day, signifying a celebration of love and affection. Trainees, and even staff, at Ade’s Place in Greenlands, Basseterre, were not left out when on Wednesday February 14 they showered themselves with gifts at a colourful celebration.
“Today is Valentine’s Day, and all of the trainees were able to purchase something, and they said to us, ‘I am working now, I have money’,” commented Ade’s Place board member, Ms Clarice Cotton.
“So we know that the Skills Training Empowerment Programme (STEP) is helping them to be able to take home something, and say, ‘this is what I bought because I am working’, and that makes them feel very, very good.”
Ade’s Place, which was established in 2005 with the help of a concerned parent to fill a void and to provide a safe haven for adults with disabilities, operated as a private institution only receiving minimum assistance from government agencies and private entities.
The institution however received a major boost in September last year when the Skills Training Empowerment Programme, an agency of the government under the Ministry of the Prime Minister stepped in and enlisted 18 of the institution’s trainees and two teachers into it payroll.
Specially invited for the Valentine’s Day bash at Ade’s Place was Mr Wendell Wattley, Director of STEP. The day however clashed with a prior arranged live interview on ‘Working for You’ programme on the national ZIZ TV and Radio which started airing at the very same time the celebration was starting.
“Let me say that even though I missed the actual presentation, and exchange of gifts, what I have seen at the end when I came was great enthusiasm from the participants,” said Mr Wattley who rushed from the ZIZ studios at the end of the interview, to join the trainees and staff at Ade’s Place for the Valentine’s Day bash.
“This to me is critical because as Ms Cotton says, they feel good about themselves. They feel good about what they are doing at Ade’s Place, and that to me is critical with respect to them going forward as independent persons, persons less dependent on parents and/or society so to speak.”
Trainees under the supervision of instructor Mrs Ynola Johnson had meticulously made a string art plaque inscribed with the message ‘Happy Valentine’s Day’ that was presented to Mr Wattley by another instructor, Mrs Charlene Norford.
“I think the steps that have been made going forward with respect to those who are improving their communication skills ny their ability to socialise with each other is important,” noted Mr Wattley. “I really want to encourage parents out there who have children who have disabilities to link up with the programme at Ade’s Place to ensure that your children get the exposure that they require and do not keep them home locked away.”
He made a special appeal to such parents: “These children are not supposed to be locked away. They are part of our society and so I want to encourage all parents out there to really seek an opportunity for the children to be part of this programme. And again it gives me a lot of pleasure and also it is a privilege to be associated with this programme at Ade’s Place.”
Earlier on Ms Cotton had informed Mr Wattley that a number of trainees who joined Ade’s Place following sponsorship by STEP had gained more confidence, were able to talk more and express themselves better and are on a path that will allow them to lead independent lives.
“I know that there is one young man in particular that all of us are saying we are quite pleased with his progress, he is speaking more, and he is expressing himself a little better,” observed Ms Cotton.
“Most of them are more confident, because young people want to feel that they are making a contribution. They are earning some money and I think since they have the chance to earn money, they really feel better about themselves. In fact one of the instructors here has been saying to me, Ms Cotton you make so and so independent now, that she give me back-chats.
According to Ms Cotton, parents of the trainees have been keenly observing the change in their children. One of the parents told Ms Cotton that whenever she takes her daughter to the supermarket, the daughter would tell the mother to take money from her (trainee’s) bank book to buy what is needed.
“They are improving in the area of training, that one parent says she notices that her daughter instead of leaving her sheets unfolded she folds them and the parent says, ‘you all teaching folding now?’,” remarked Ms Cotton. “I said yes, and so they see the difference, as some of them are helping with the things at home – they are sewing and so on.”
Ms Cotton concluded by saying: “STEP’s involvement here at Ade’s Place is really making a difference, and the trainees were saying how they are going to cook. In fact the cookery teacher tells them at the end of the term she is going to see how they can prepare their own meals because they are showing off on their cooking now.”