We had our last day at the Nesbitt center. In order to have a full understanding of the center’s functionality, Michelle took the three of us on a trip to the social enterprises that the low support members take part in running. We first headed to a coffee shop by the name of The Nest at St. John’s Cathedral. It was a small and quaint little store and the daughter of the Nesbitt Center’s founder was working there. She was very talkative and was very willing to engage her customers into idle chat as they waited for their coffee, and greeted us all as we walked into the store. Although it was just a short visit, the atmosphere of the cafe was both calming and endearing, a place that we would visit again if we could. Then we headed towards the pier to Cafe 8, a restaurant also run by the members above the Hong Kong Maritime Museum. After settling down for a drink and a quick snack, we heard an interesting story about one of the members from Michelle. A female member who was dating another member broke up with him by sending him a photo with her new boyfriend! Her story even extends to a point where she was apparently “engaged” with another member who was about to move to Australia. The way that the members continue to enjoy their life with their learning disabilities showcases a person’s need for community and place where they can trust and feel accepted.
After the tour of the social enterprises, we spent our last afternoon back at the center. We took part in a drumming session where members were allowed to play the drums while singing and making loud noise. A few of the members preferred to sit by the side and listen, but the excitement in the room was overflowing. They all couldn’t wait to rush to the center and have their turn in performing solo, and some of their moves was quite a funny sight. It was interesting to see one of the members, Liam, who usually sits by the side stoic and still actually bobbing his head and waving his arms to the sounds with a smile on his face.
Most likely because people with learning disabilities are limited in their capacity to form ideas and express themselves verbally, they tend to communicate more through their bodily gestures and simple words or actions of happiness or anger. From this we can see the importance of interactive and sensory activities for the members, as it allows them to express their suppressed emotions in ways that they couldn’t before. Although we had a laugh during the drumming session, the elation in the eyes of some of the members in such a simple activity couldn’t be ignored. After this experience at the Nesbitt Center, the three of us sincerely hope that one day the world can be both a safe and accepting place for all those with learning disabilities.
By: Fideron, Hilary, Isaia