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Hand-in-Hand Program for intellectually challenged adults

In each of us, there is the need to live. The flowering out of life, the thirst for beautiful things. The feel of my radiance in joy, in hope.
(Jean Vanier, “Tears of Silence”)

The Hand-in-Hand program has been in existence for 28 years, providing an educational, recreational and familial day program for a group of 18 intellectually challenged adults. Hand-in-Hand reaches out to the aging population of the intellectually challenged, many of whom are undergoing difficult life transitions such as losing parents, moving to foster care living or the loss of physical abilities. Hand-in-Hand represents a stable family environment in which each participant is cared for, celebrated and welcomed with open arms.

Drawing on glass, Richard

We have disregarded the heart, seeing it only as a symbol of weakness, the centre of sentimentality and emotion, instead of as a powerhouse of love that can reorient us from our self-centeredness, revealing to us and to others the basic beauty of humanity, empowering us to grow.
(Jean Vanier, “Becoming Human”)

Hand-in-Hand offers an enriching and lively program including a weekly art class, physical fitness, literacy projects, games and activities to help develop skills while having fun, a summer day camp as well as a nutritious balanced daily meal in our community lunch program. The program focuses on helping participants to develop or maintain skills that enable them live as autonomously as possible. It also seeks to promote emotional health and social skills while helping to nurture a sense of belonging at Saint Columba House and within the wider community.

David Hart's drawing

So it is that belonging is the place where we grow to maturity and discover what it means to be human and to act in a human way… It is the place where our deepest self rises up into our consciousness and so we become more fully ourselves, more fully human.
(Jean Vanier, “Finding Peace”)

Through our work in Hand-in-Hand, we have the privilege of working with one of society’s most excluded groups of people – aging adults living with intellectual challenges. This work challenges us daily to seek ways to open hearts and minds, to break down barriers of understanding, to question our own values and attitudes, and to help find and create a place of belonging for those who do not fit into mainstream society. That is why we call it Hand-in-Hand, a place in which everybody learns and grows together.

Drawing on glass, Susan Morley