The Sandy Lane Charitable Trust has unveiled a model of a new school for adolescents and adults with special needs. The model was showcased at the Trust’s annual fund-raiser on January 18 at The Country Club at Sandy Lane.
The Sandy Lane Charitable Trust now plans to construct a new facility to be the home for Sunshine children once they reach the age of 11 and is also to be a day-care facility for the adults with special needs – those exceptional children that are trapped in a “grown up body”.
Trustee Pip Challis stated that the plans to construct the school has been a “huge undertaking.” The path has not been a smooth one hindered by challenges with red tape and required permissions and as a result the ground breaking ceremony has not happened as yet. Challis went on to say that “the plans are set, the schedules written and the builder is eagerly awaiting to start, we only now have to wait on the powers that be to give us the green light”. Full details of the school are to be announced at a future press conference.
Last year the annual golf event and fund raising dinner raised a staggering 2.5 million Barbados dollars (net of expenses), that Trustee and Grand Patron Derrick Smith described as “an amazing feat, which could not have been achieved without tremendous support of many people.”
Smith also noted on the night that the Sandy Lane Charitable Trust and the Barbados Children’s Trust are often confused, but that the reality is that both trusts have the same mission and common goal “to Help the Children of Barbados.”
While it is yet to be confirmed what is the final contribution received from this year’s fund-raiser, the initial figure is estimate to be approximately BDS $2.6 million.
Each year the Trust is charged with the great responsibility of allocating the funds wisely and to ensure the most children benefit from the substantial donations. Ongoing commitments include continued support of the Sunshine Early Stimulation Centre and the John Payne School for Exceptional Children and funding the Eden Lodge Youth group, a charity established 15 years ago to help families in financial need with basic supplies and uniforms and several counselling schemes.
The Sandy Lane Charitable Trust has also undertaken the Barbados Wheelchair Scheme from the Barbados Children’s Trust, assisting with the maintenance and adaptation of wheelchairs for children with special needs to ensure these children receive the benefit of optimum independence and mobility in comfort.
The Trust sponsors select Sunshine children to attend the Paediatric Therapy Hospital in Florida as part of their annual commitments. The PTH is a unique facility that assesses special needs children and then gives three to four weeks concentrated physio and occupational therapy. The children then return to the Sunshine Village with a comprehensive evaluation and a recommended 12 month action list and follow up plan. These assessments have proved invaluable for the children and their parents.
“In 2012 The Sandy Lane Charitable Trust has tried to make the extra funds raised from the previous year’s event really count,” Julian Sacher, Trustee, said during the evening’s proceedings, “to not only impact the relatively low number of high cost medical cases and their families, but to make a difference to the population of Barbados and to touch the lives of many children through a variety of community projects.”
Such initiatives included the Nationwide Primary School Road Safety Competition, the Police Community “Embracing All” community fair, numerous schools, both government and private that have shown initiative to help shape their children’s future and rewarding students who despite personal hardship are endeavouring to be future leaders.
While the primary focus for the Trust remains the special needs programmes, the local charity is also committed to a number of activities for ‘normal’ children. Among these the Sandy Lane Charitable Trust provides support through a variety of counselling programs in primary schools and The Crime Stoppers Secondary School programme. Both these schemes are aimed at supporting children aged 5 to 18, helping them deal with the pressures of everyday life today and giving them the tools and skills to cope with the daily challenges they face. The impact of these schemes is impossible to calculate and quantify, but the Trust noted that of the 3,400 students who have been touched by these programmes in the last year, if we only one child listens and learns in each class of 30, then the lives of 113 children and their families have been changed.
The Trust is most widely credited for its heart rendering work in dealing with children’s medical cases both new and ongoing. It was evident that the stories of the lives saved and impacted by the generosity of the Trust left a distinct mark on the minds and hearts of those attending. Perhaps even more so was an account of one child for whom assistance came too late.
The Sandy Lane Charitable Trust has only four trustees and runs without payment of salaries or expenses, ensuring every penny raised goes to the development of underprivileged children of Barbados.