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New centre for individuals with developmental disabilities opens in Markham

City of Markham proclaimed Sept. 21 as Cherish Integrated Services Day
Sept. 27, 2021
Irene Wong

“I’m excited to see the new centre!” said Po Lin Szit, one of the trainees at Cherish Integrated Services.

“There will be more space to make art projects to share with the community; I’m very happy”

Trainee Annie Kwong also cheered for the new centre: “I’m very excited to have more space to exercise!”

The trainees at Cherish Integrated Services were very excited to move to a new centre at 1271 Denison Street in Markham. Cherish opened the 5184 sq ft. centre on September 21. City of Markham proclaimed the Cherish Integrated Services Day for the opening.

Cherish Integrated Services is a registered charity serving individuals with developmental disabilities and their family members in GTA since 2010.

Over the past 5 years, they have had 30 adult trainees and 28 child trainees enrolled, and a wait-list of 10.

With a growing demand for their services from diversified communities, Cherish saw the need to open a new facility uniquely designed for individuals with developmental disabilities of all ages.

“Life in the old centre was not easy,” said Annie Leung, founder and honorary adviser of Cherish, who worked at Cherish for almost two decades.

“The facility was outdated and not accessible for our trainees with physical disabilities. They had to enter the centre via entrance at the back because of all those stairs in the front.”

Despite the pandemic, they stayed resilient and persisted to complete their goal of opening the centre in 2021. The new centre raised their capacity to provide new and innovative services and provide trainees with more opportunities to acquire skills for an enriching life.

The new centre features a recreation room fit for various recreational activities including ping pong, karaoke, and dancing.

Kyoko Leung, executive director of Cherish, highlighted a multi-sensory room with bubble tubes and foam mats.

It is a fantastic way to provide a safe and interactive environment for our trainees to explore their senses.”

There is also a workshop room for job venture art projects where trainee Yang Li proudly presents his paper quilling art.

Ivy Lam, president of Cherish Board, was deeply impressed by the significant changes on Yang Li.

“Yang Li was shy with low self-esteem. He stood against the wall and turned his back to whoever talking to him. He used to run from the old centre, wandering on snowy streets for hours. Our staff were always there with him. Incredible patience! After 8 years in Cherish, he managed to sing with Mayor Scarpitti in front of a large group of audiences!”

Under the Resilient Communities Fund from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, Cherish received $57,600 towards improving the technological capacity and virtual services.

With the funding, they were able to develop digital apps for individuals with developmental disabilities and procure devices and equipment to further the use of technology in their new centre.

Technology opened up a new world for Cherish in the midst of pandemic,” said Leung.

We connect to our trainees and their families online, so trainings continued during lockdown. Our trainees picked up new skills using tablets in a few clicks. That is amazing!”