Taipei, Sept. 7 (CNA) The Taiwan Mennonite New Dawn Educare Center, a facility for individuals with disabilities in the eastern county of Hualien, recently received a Presidential Cultural Award in recognition of its decades-long dedication to humanitarian efforts.
The center, founded in 1977 by Canadian pastor Otto Dirks and his wife Elaine Dirks, had capacity to care for only five people when its was first established.
Currently, it accommodates 250 individuals and has evolved to provide a range of humanitarian services that help the disabled integrate into society.
In a recent interview with CNA, New Dawn Educare Center Executive Director Liang Kuei-hua (梁桂花) said center staff see their mission as working to safeguard the wellbeing of people with disabilities.
However, caring for persons with physical or mental disabilities is not easy and requires creativity, Liang noted.
(Photo courtesy of Taiwan Mennonite New Dawn Educare Center)
For example, some disabled people do not like to use stretch equipment to help them build and retain muscle strength, so the staff have adapted and instead asked them to feed dogs, transforming such fitness and strength work into a fun and interactive healing process, according to Liang.
In a bid to increase access and improve the quality of care for people with disabilities in Taiwan, the center is now planning to expand as there is no extra space to take people in.
The ideal location for a new facility is Shoufeng, a rural township in Hualien County, according to Liang.
However, the expansion project will cost NT$170 million (US$5.4 million) and so the center has been raising fund since 2012. It has currently raised about NT$40 million.
Liang plans to use the award to boost the profile of the fund-raising effort, adding that the cash prize of NT$1 million from the award will go to the project.
The Presidential Cultural Awards were created in 2001 during the tenure of then-President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), whose wife is wheelchair-bound, with the purpose of recognizing individuals and groups that have made special contributions to Taiwan.
President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) will present the trophies at an award ceremony scheduled for Oct. 18, the General Association of Chinese Culture, the awards' organizer, announced Wednesday.