– When Andria Parson turned 22, her formal education was
complete. But like many special needs adults unable to transfer to
vocational programs, her family could not find a program that would
allow her to continue learning.
Gilroy – When Andria Parson turned 22, her formal education was complete. But like many special needs adults unable to transfer to vocational programs, her family could not find a program that would allow her to continue learning.
“Both in trying to look for schools for Andria and working in the field, I know there is nothing out there,” said Brian Parson, 27, Andria’s brother.
People who have higher functions are able to get jobs making boxes or working on assembly lines, but for those with lower levels of functioning such as Andria “they were put into a room with no stimuli,” Brian Parson said.
Parson and his mother Karen decided four years ago to help change that way of thinking by creating the CASA Center which would benefit adults such as Andria who is now 28. CASA stands for Continuing Advancement for Special Adults, and that is exactly what the Parsons hope their center will do.
“CASA Center really focuses on continuing the advancement of special needs adults,” said Shea McCormick, a board member. “Not just maintaining or just passing the day. We want to work on increasing cognition and improving their lifestyles.”
While federal law mandates that there be appropriate programs for people age three to 22 who have developmental or physical challenges, programs for older special needs adults are not required to provide speech, physical or occupational therapy or one on one teaching to further development.
The staff will include people with specific training to work with special-needs adults as well as in providing speech and occupational therapy. But the center is still at least a year away from hiring staff and they are still searching for a location for their program.
Now that CASA has nonprofit status, board members hope the community will pitch in. As a 501(c)(3), they are able to apply for grants and receive donations. While the group of board members have been holding fundraisers among their family and friends, their upcoming annual fundraiser will be open to anyone who would like to participate.
The goal for Saturday’s It’s a Carnival! is to raise $25,000, but Brian Parson said there is another reason for inviting the community to join in.
“We want to involve the community and get them out to help them recognize that we want to be an important part of the community,” Brian said. “We will be here to help, but we need them to help right now.”
Activities for the day include a watermelon eating contest and a sack race. Carnival-like games such as a bottle toss, ring toss and dart boards will be available for the kids. A raffle will be the highlight of the day with prizes including tickets to local amusement parks such as Great America and Bonfante Gardens as well as a Disneyland Getaway. The grand prize is a Carnival cruise.
It’s a Carnival! Fundraiser
June 25, 2005 11am to 4pm
3465 Susie Lane in east Gilroy off Highway 152.
CASA, a school that will help special needs adults older than 22, needs to raise $500,000.
Details: Karen Parson at 846-1721, or e-mail [email protected]