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Turks and Caicos, U.S., Canada partner to help disabled children

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OSWEGATCHIE — Learning cultural differences could be key in providing disabled children of the Turks and Caicos Islands with services that could make their lives easier.

That is the hope of the One World Foundation, an organization of American and Canadian service providers. As Turks and Caicos government officials and foundation board members continue to visit respective countries, learn cultures and services for people with disabilities, the more improved the Turks and Caicos system may become, according to Joseph L. Rich, foundation cofounder.

“There’s a shortage of professionals on the islands to do assessments,” Mr. Rich said. “They asked One World Foundation to be of help and to offer those services.”

Most recently, those services were offered in June when north country residents, including foundation president Howard W. Ganter — who also is executive director of Jefferson Rehabilitation Center — and several service providers offered their help. Mr. Rich said occupational therapist Nicole M. Monaco, speech language therapist David P. Sheppard, and pediatric neurologist Jeanne Ryan also went to the islands.

“There’s a plan of action for the future, where there will be follow-up,” Mr. Rich said.

Data will be turned into Turks and Caicos Islands Health Minister Porsha Stubbs Smith. Mr. Rich said Mrs. Smith shows “a tremendous amount of interest in One World and what we can provide for them.”

Mrs. Smith and other Turks and Caicos officials recently traveled to the north country to see services offered locally, and to learn what additions or changes could be implemented on the islands.

It was then that Daphne A. Pickert, a One World Foundation board member, informed Turks and Caicos officials about Dodge Pond, a fully accessible summer recreation program for children with disabilities. The camp, at 521 County Route 37, is operated by St. Lawrence NYSARC, of which Ms. Pickert is the executive director.

Mr. Rich said the Turks and Caicos government sent two children from the islands this week to Dodge Pond.

“It’s a culture shock,” Ms. Pickert said. “I don’t think they have anything like this on the islands. I hope they have a good time.”

Children from the Turks and Caicos will enjoy the same activities local children do at camp, such as rafting, swimming, and other individual and team activities.

“We were so surprised they wanted to come up,” Mr. Rich said.

Meanwhile, One World Foundation Canadian and American representatives, including a few from Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties, will again return to the Turks and Caicos Islands to provide additional training and outreach efforts.

“It’s a good feeling to be able to help people,” Mr. Rich said.

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