Basseterre, St. Kitts, December 23, 2017 (S.T.E.P.) — Trainees at the Skills Training Empowerment Programme (STEP)-sponsored Ade’s Place in Greenlands, Basseterre, held a unique Christmas party on Thursday December 21 where a heavily bearded ‘Santa Claus’ was seen wearing a dress.
“Ade’s Place usually holds a Christmas party to close off the year and we had our Christmas party on Thursday the 21st of December,” said Ms Clarice Cotton, a member of the Ade’s Place Board of Directors.
It was a Christmas party that had some significant ‘firsts’ as Ms Cotton explained: “This was the first time we had Santa Claus (wearing a beard), it was the first time we had music, and this was the first time all the trainees put money towards the party.”
According to Ms Cotton, each of the trainees contributed towards the party by bringing something, and they were given the opportunity to say what they wanted for their gifts. Each person brought a set amount of money to purchase the gifts.
“I think they were able to do that because they are now on the Skills Training Empowerment Programme (STEP),” observed Ms Cotton
There was also the presence of Santa, who was distributing the gifts. Board member Ms Clarice Cotton explained that a staff member, Mrs Charlene Norford, plays the role of Santa Claus each year wearing the traditional festive hat. However, this year she had the beard which amused some of the trainees even as they called her ‘Mama Santa’.
On being interviewed by this media, Mrs Norford said that she likes playing the role of Santa Claus, or Father Christmas as the character is popularly known, but she hopes that next year someone will be good enough to offer her the right attire for the role.
“Next time you buy me a suit,” said Mrs Norford. “I play the Santa with a hat all the time, but without the beard. This time I had the beard and I now want the suit for next Christmas. I always feel good when the trainees say Mama Santa; Mama – anything they want to call me.”
Music teacher, Mr Martin who comes to the institution every Wednesday, provided music which kept everyone entertained. Like all the other institutions in the country, Ade’s Place closed on Friday for the Christmas festivities, and the trainees will return on Wednesday December 27.
Ade’s Place 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 where they are taught life skills. They are involved in programmes such as art and craft, socialisation skills, daily life training/survival sessions, independent living skills, ironing, computer training sessions, sporting activities, engaging in occasional outings, and hosting income-generating activities.
The institution, which is based in Greenlands, Basseterre, got a new lease of life in September this year when all the eighteen trainees and two instructors were taken on board by Team Unity Administration’s Skills Training Empowerment Programme (STEP) which pays them monthly salaries as they train.
Mission statement at Ade’s Place is ‘To provide a safe and secure place for young persons who are ‘differently abled’ where they can develop to their fullest potential’, and according to Ms Cotton this has been manifested by the very fact that for the first time the trainees were able to contribute to their own Christmas party.