Japanese Support Group Visits Opengate

A group of mothers of developmentally disabled children organized by Fumiko Tanaka toured the Somers campus and participated in a discussion and Q&A session on the patio of the ICF West residence on April 20, 2012. What made this so special was that each mother was from Japan, now living in the US and transitioning from services in their country of origin to the New York Metropolitan area.

These women are ex-patriots living temporarily in Manhattan or Westchester. They have formed an ad hoc group for mutual support, advocacy and education.

They visited with Director of Clinical Services, Peter Welby, LCSW, in an effort to discover what might be the next steps for their own aging children. Additionally they were interested to see what types of services and treatments were in use the United States, and Opengate in particular, as compared to their native Japan.

When walking from the administrative building over to the Day Program building, they commented on the beauty of the setting and asked how Opengate came into being. When told it was founded by parents like themselves who were concerned their children’s future, they expressed both their admiration and hope for inspiration.

The visit included greeting residents in the day program and culminated with a stop at Rivera House. The mothers were very interested to learn of the struggles and triumphs of developmentally disabled people and their families in the U.S., particularly the landmark contributions of Geraldo Rivera.

The mothers presented a parting gift of handicrafts from their native country – beautiful, brightly-colored creations of disabled individuals in Japan. They followed up with a note of appreciation that spoke from the heart of a parent’s eye: “witnessing the residents’ happy faces” and how that indicated the quality of their lives at Opengate.

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