Cut in state funding threatens popular program
Blind and visually challenged adults may no longer be able to take a popular class, Basket Weaving for the Visually Impaired, which has been offered for more 35 years through the Sarasota County School District’s Adult and Community Enrichment (ACE) program, the district has announced.
ACE is seeking funds from community residents and organizations to help underwrite the class, “following a large cut in state funding for programs designed for adults with disabilities,” a district news release says.
The annual cost of the class is $6,000, which covers the instructor’s salary and supplies, the release explains. “Classroom space is donated by the Sarasota County School District,” the release adds.
“A number of the students who take this class depend on it as their primary social activity during the week,” said Galina Jordan, ACE volunteer coordinator, in the release. “It’s very popular and has become a cornerstone in their lives. Many of the students have been taking the class for years.”
Jordan noted in the release that students rely on the class as a way to be productive. Most of the students are on fixed incomes — primarily Social Security, she pointed out — and will be unable to participate in the program if they have to pay for it. In addition to the course fee, students pay $5 for bus transportation to the class, which is held in an ACE classroom at Suncoast Technical College, located at the intersection of Beneva and Proctor roads in Sarasota, the release explains.
“For the adults who take this class, losing their sight has affected their confidence and self-esteem, but being able to make a basket gives them great joy,” Jordan added in the release.
“In the past, I have enjoyed sewing, crocheting and knitting,” student Bona Lee said in the release, “but I find these are too difficult and certainly not enjoyable anymore. I wasn’t sure basket weaving would be something I could do, but with such great volunteers so willing to help it has been a beautiful experience.”
Meritt Weatherly, another student, pointed out in the release, “This class makes us feel like we are active and creative members of the community.”
Those who wish to donate money or schedule a visit to the class may contact Galina Jordan at 361-6590, or via email at email@example.com.