The Special Needs Association of Providenciales (S.N.A.P.) Center, on Monday, July 5, staged its first ever graduation since the school’s inception about 13 years ago.
Held at the St. Monica’s Anglican Church in Providenciales under the theme: ‘Looking to the Future, Investing Now’, the exceptional occasion was attended by some of the government’s top brass, including Deputy Governor, Her Excellency Anya Williams, who was the guest speaker; Deputy Premier Hon. E. Jay Saunders; and Minister of Education Hon. Rachel Taylor.
The deputy governor applauded the students, who she said defied the odds in so many ways. She said some of them were coming from a place of not knowing how to speak, to a point where they were now blessed with tremendous talent, including the playing of musical instruments.
She said just a little over 10 years ago, the government assumed responsibility for the S.N.A.P. Center, about three years after a private group of parents with special needs children initiated the institution.
“Since then, government has continued to invest in the programme and the children that attend the center,” Williams said, noting that she had the good fortune to watch the center develop over the years in a variety of ways.
“…And it has really developed a special place in my heart, particularly since I have held the post of deputy governor, because it has given me the opportunity to directly interact with the staff and the students,” she added.
Deputy Governor Williams also commended the teachers and staff of the institution for their abundance of care that they administer to the students.
For her part, Education Minister Hon. Rachel Taylor described the occasion as an amazing milestone in the life of the students, as well as the parents. She urged the parents to embrace what she referred to as the blooming of their garden, even if it was not the kind of garden they imagined.
“As we look towards the future, it is our government’s mandate to create that garden, where it would not just be an imagination but a flourishing garden, where your children will continue to live and thrive on the foundation which S.N.A.P. has built.
“Parents, when others focus on what your child cannot do, see it as an opportunity to focus on what God is, who He is, and what He can do through you and your child,” she implored.
Minister Taylor told the gathering that the Washington Misick administration has begun to clear the pathways for the establishment of a more effective special needs programme. She said the programme would entail augmenting, among other benefits, human resources and additional training.
Deputy Premier Saunders also commended the school for its achievements over the past years. He, too, encouraged the institution to continue molding the country’s special needs students, so they may become valuable contributors to society.
He told the graduation that many of the most successful individuals across the world are inflicted with some level of shortcomings but did not permit those deficiencies to railroad their success.
“So, I will tell you, parents and loved ones, that these kids know something that we don’t know. They know that their limitation does not stop them. These children are here today to humanize us. I want to encourage you to be there for them because we need them just as much as they need us,” Saunders said.
Educator and community activist, Gertrude Sanders-Forbes, donated the prize to the top student.
The S.N.A.P. Center caters to students between the ages of six to 21 years old. The center provides for students with, among other challenges, down syndrome.