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‘There’s a lot of love in this place’

In Local News on September 2, 2011 at 7:30 pm

By: Kristen Hegel

Three years ago, concerned parents approached theFortMillAdultDayCenter, now known as theAdultEnrichmentCenter, in hopes of finding a way for young adults with developmental disabilities to stay involved with the community after graduating from high school. With help from Adult Enrichment Center Director Samantha Kriegshauser, the program known as High Five became part of the center’s campus. The program took off with three members and has grown to 13 members today.

“Under Samantha’s direction the program has really expanded,” Gail Carley, parent of a High Five member, said. “Before this, the kids could only go toRock Hill. Now they’re back in their community.” The active day program for people at least 18 years old with developmental disabilities operates Mondays through Fridays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., lunch and snacks are provided. Transportation is also provided to and from the day center within a 15-mile radius. The High Five’s very own bus is one of the latest additions to the program. “There is a logo on the transportation bus that says ‘There is a lot of love in this place’ and it is something that you feel once you walk through the doors,” High Five Director Bertha Potts said.

The High Five club is a group of young adults with developmental disabilities who stay involved with their community. Photo courtesy of Gail Carley

You may have seen the group around town exercising at the YMCA or atLeroySprings, walking dogs at the Humane Society, delivering back packs to the seven elementary schools for the Back Pack Program, or taking part in the Christmas Parade. “Whether we are at the center, on a field trip, swimming atLeroySprings, or playing ball at the YMCA, each day brings on new experiences for each of us and we take on each new day with a smile,” Potts said.

They have manned the water station at theSpringfield5K and at the Alzheimer Walk in Baxter. They even trained and competed in the Special Olympics. Also, they operate a concession stand at the American Legion Baseball games, and the earnings go to their activity fund.

“I enjoy seeing them grow in their development. Also, to see joy in their eyes after they have accomplished a goal or task it puts joy in your heart and a smile on your face as well. There are countless things I could say, but the bottom line is it is all about their abilities and not their disabilities,” Potts said.

The Fort Mill Moose Lodge recently held the High Five’s second annual dance. On June 17, the Sandlapper Parrothead Club ofFortMillsponsored a shrimp boil at Checkers restaurant. The event brought in over $1,500 that will go to fund the expansion of the High Five area at the day center. High Five’s third annual fundraiser will be held at the Dairy Barn on November 12. Square dancing clubs from acrossSouth Carolinaare invited. Music, entertainment and food will be provided. Ticket prices are $25 per adult and $15 per child.

Not only is the High Five group staying active and involved in the community, but members are catching a lot of people’s attention while making a difference. Congressman Mick Mulvaney recently paid a visit to theAdultEnrichmentCenterover the summer to discuss the concerns about Medicare and Medicaid funding. “We do need people to help us and we appreciate what the community does for us, but we don’t want to just take, we want to give to others. We want to teach them to help others,” Kriegshauser said.

The program is volunteer-based, so if you’re interested in helping out, contact the High Five program director Bertha Potts at 803-396-5336. “We need volunteers to help us with projects. We have a group that wants to learn about photography, we have some who like art, theatre, drama and music, or just someone who wants to come and go on a field trip with us as an extra set of hands and eyes,” Kriegshauser said.

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