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Minister ‘Inspired and Hopeful’ for the Future of CAYS Foundation

Local News 13 Jun, 2023 Follow News

Design Studio Team - 2023

Cays June 2023

Renovations to Phoenix House, 2023

By Kendra Okonski

Last week, the Hon. Minister for Social Development, André Ebanks MP, toured the Bonaventure Boys Home, the Frances Bodden Children’s Home and the recently renovated Phoenix House, managed and operated by the Children and Youth Services (CAYS) Foundation.

After meeting with the board members and new management team of CAYS, the Minister said:

“It was very refreshing to listen to CAYS representatives set out a new vision for CAYS, which is in line with our Ministry’s comprehensive social development agenda that we must enable all people in the Cayman Islands to reach their full potential. This is pursued, in significant measure, by forming creative and innovative partnerships with both willing and passionate private sector entities and community organisations.”

He continued, “In this spirit, my tour of the recent renovations undertaken in one of the CAYS Foundation homes – done in partnership with Michelle Butler and Design Studio leading – left me profoundly inspired and deeply hopeful for the future of CAYS.”

Garth Arch, Chairman of CAYS Foundation, thanked the Hon. Minister for his visit. He observed,

“Not only are the physical renovations inherently beneficial for our young people, but they reflect an overall shift in approach being taken with the homes. The Board has adopted a holistic change in programme philosophy and structure, and is reflected in the therapeutic, trauma-informed approach being implemented by our new management staff: Mr. Keith Boyle, General Manager, and Ms. Nyasha Griffith, House Manager.”

Mr. Arch continued, “With this project as well as much needed future renovations to the other homes, CAYS Foundation physical premises are being brought in line with trauma informed care principles, and international standards for residential placements.”

To that end, he praised the philanthropic generosity of Ms. Michelle Butler, founder of local company Design Studio, who has been a passionate long-term supporter of CAYS.

Butler decided to get more involved by working with the CAYS Board and management staff to offer her interior design expertise and insights, and to create a tangible improvement in the living environment for the young people who are CAYS residents.  Rotary Central representatives along with Design Studio staff spent an entire day painting and completing related work during the weekend of 24 March, working alongside the CAYS staff and residents.

Ms. Butler said, “It was a priority of CAYS’ managers that the young people were active participants in the design process and this genuinely was a highlight for me. Like all of our teenagers, I found that they definitely have specific design preferences influenced by contemporary culture all around us.  So it truly was delightful to give them agency, to engage them in purposeful transformation of their own physical space to make it into a comforting home environment. I hope that we can work with the wider community to carry out a similar transformation for the two other CAYS homes.”

Design Studio donated many of the components of the project– including time and expertise, materials and furnishings. Additional community resources and support came from Cayman Coatings (who provided paint for throughout the house), 345AV who (provided a new TV), and Ironshore (who helped create a new looks for the walls in the entry hallway).

“The Foundation is grateful for the time, effort and resources dedicated by all to make this project a reality,” said CAYS Foundation Chairman Garth Arch. “We would like to especially thank Michelle and her Design Studio Team, who engaged the young people, our residents, in the creative and conceptual process from start to finish. After enabling them truly to be included and consulted in reimagining the physical space, they feel a sense of ownership and pride in an environment that is homey and comfortable, and that they had a hand in designing and decorating.”

Arch continued, “The provision of nicely decorated, pleasant and comfortable environments, the process of including them in decisions about the spaces in which they live, and the support of caring adults, demonstrates to our young people that they are appreciated and valued by CAYS Foundation and the wider Cayman community.”

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