On Monday 8 November, the Sunrise Adult Training Centre (SATC) celebrated 35 years of serving the Cayman Islands with its integrated services and programmes for adults who have a broad range of special needs. The Centre recently came under the remit of the Cayman Islands Government's Ministry of Investment, Innovation and Social Development.
By providing vocational training, therapeutic services, case management services and a recreational day programme, the Centre aims to enable all of its clients to become empowered, productive and fully included members of the community.
Currently, the Centre supports 35 clients in its day programme, and 23 clients who work in paid employment in the community (see below for a range of testimonials from employers). There are 22 members of staff.
Although current Covid-19 protocols have postponed traditional celebrations and festivities for the Centre's anniversary, the clients, staff, families and wider community anticipate these at a later date.
Minister André Ebanks extended his congratulations to the Centre:
"Since its founding 35 years ago, Sunrise Adult Training Centre has played a significant role in the Cayman Islands, both in its delivery of services to clients and its advocacy on their behalf. Its Director Ms Kimberly Voaden leads the Centre with enthusiasm, wisdom and great compassion, and its staff are to be commended for their work and dedication.
"The Centre equips its clients with hugely important life skills to enable their functioning in wider society, in line with the recognition that such participation is vital for every human being. Likewise, the Centre provides the delivery of therapy services and vocational training in aid of the same objective.
"At the same time, demand for Sunrise's services currently exceeds its ability to accommodate all of its potential clients. Investment in the Centre's physical facilities is an urgent need and priority of this Government."
Sunrise Adult Training Centre Director Kimberly Voaden, who has served as Director since 2017, provided the context of Sunrise's services and the role it plays in the Cayman Islands:
"I am honoured to serve as Director and formerly as Programme Director during a portion of Sunrise's three and a half decades.
"People with disabilities - one billion worldwide - are one of the most excluded groups in society. Even without the strain of the Covid-19 pandemic, these people are less likely to access healthcare, education, employment and active community participation.
"An integrated approach is required. Sunrise is committed to working in a holistic, client-centred manner and collaboratively with all possible partners, to ensure that its clients live fulfilling, flourishing lives and are fully included in our community."
Ms Voaden noted that in the past 35 years, there has been a transformation of attitudes towards people with special needs and disabilities. She said this has elevated the crucial importance of policies and practices to support and include them in our community, the economy and society. Swiftly changing technologies also aid in the range of possibilities for them to contribute, and likewise enabling them to strive for their full potential as individuals.
"Without a doubt, the purpose and functions of Sunrise Adult Training Centre are vital and mutually beneficial not only for our clients and their families, but also for the Cayman Islands as a whole to have opportunities to embrace and engage with these members of our community," she said.
Commenting on the future of Sunrise Adult Training Centre, she noted:
"Going forward, we will continue to work with our clients to enable their full inclusion. We will work to embed the Sunrise ethos of empowerment, employment and independence even more deeply within the Cayman Islands community.
"To deliver on this ambition, and to properly serve a long list of clients who are currently on a wait list -- or will join when they finish at the Lighthouse School -- Sunrise requires a bespoke building. Moreover, the building will need to be located more centrally, as the current premises in West Bay significantly hinders participation of clients from the eastern districts.
"We also eagerly anticipate building more partnerships with potential employers, with civic organisations, and connections with the broader community."
Ms Voaden concluded that disability inclusion was an essential condition to upholding human rights, sustainable development, peace and security. She said, "The commitment to realising the rights of persons with disabilities is not only a matter of justice; it is an investment in a common future, for Cayman, and to the betterment of us all."
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