Access to a Garden...

...Means fullness of life

** Updated
There are many benefits of the new children’s care centre in Hengyang — the family-style living spaces, the improved access to therapy and educational centres, and the brighter design. These design improvements reflect the many years of hard work and advocacy on the part of ICC long-term volunteers and staff to see these building enhancements come into concrete reality.

Even a small improvement — such as the new elevator — can make a world of difference in the quality of life for the children in Hengyang.

ICC’s old Hengyang building did not have any wheelchair access from the top floors. Children with cerebral palsy who arrived as babies are now seven or eight years old — quite heavy to carry down the stairs into the garden, explains Alison Kennedy, International Project Liaison at the Hengyang project.

So for Kennedy, the lift means life. “It’s access to the outside world,” she says. “They’re going to be able to see the garden. Their world is going to be bigger and their life is going to be fuller.” 

“Fullness of life in the form of access to a garden — it’s so simple, but so fundamental to what love is,” she adds. 
The elevator now services all five storeys in the new children’s care centre, giving 20 family-style group homes easy outside access. 

The brighter building and improved access to therapy and educational centres mean increased well-being for everyone in the new centre. The smaller, family-sized rooms allow for tighter bonds to be formed, which means higher levels of care. More attention can now be given to each child as a part of a family unit. Children feel a greater level of independence and responsibility for their living arrangements. 

The new building can hold up to 150 children. After the 124 children already with ICC are settled, we will be able to take on 26 new children. The government welfare centre has already identified 16 youth and ten babies who could benefit from the move. The full care and services for these new children will mean increased operational costs of up to USD $82,000 per year. 

The children moved into the completed building in October. Volunteers painted decorative name boards for each room as part of the fitting out process of the homes, for which ICC was responsible. We’re very grateful to have this building provided to us, especially after the recent landslide forced us to evacuate our old building. This new home could not have come at a better time.

** This story has been updated to correct the spelling of Alison Kennedy's name and to more accurately reflect her views on the new Hengyang building.