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Brother's Keeper celebrating anniversary with expansion

Sue Guinn Legg • Updated Jun 22, 2017 at 11:15 PM

Brother's Keeper, an enrichment and educational program for young adults with intellectual disabilities and limited opportunities beyond high school, is celebrating its one-year anniversary by doubling the number of young people it serves.

The open enrollment was announced at Thursday’s anniversary celebration in the Brother’s Keeper program rooms at Boones Creek Christian Church.

Other celebratory announcements included the launch of Brother’s Keeper participants’ first entrepreneurial venture, an online store marketing three specialty gifts hand-crafted by the participants, and a July promotion to benefit local shelter pets through sale of their BK braided dog toys.

Program co-founder and Executive Director Cecile Huddleston said Thursday’s event was first and foremost a anniversary celebration of the progress made by program and its participants in four primary area of focus — wellness, academics, spiritual growth and vocational development.

Improved abilities to write their own names, to count higher, to recognize more words and more coin values are successes most people take for granted. But Huddleston said that for Brother’s Keeper’s participants, they are small steps toward a transition from life of dependency to a life filled with purpose.

Other accomplishments include the creation of a small circle of friends the participants love; support and enjoyment in engaging with in classes; wellness activities and athletic competitions; social outings and in community service; 700 gift items crafted and sold in their vocational program; and 258 accumulative hours of community service.

And as the program celebrates a year that exceeded expectations in many ways, Huddleston said Brother’s Keeper is also ready to expand and looking forward to adding new students, new program partners and new ideas.

She invited anyone with special skills they would like to share or living experiences that would benefit the Brother’s Keeper’s participants to contact the program.

Ashlee Thompson, educational director for Brother’s Keeper, said the program’s new BK Corner online gift shop was launched with funding from the Palmer Foundation to help raise funds for the program and to help the participants develop a variety of fine motor and vocational skills.

She said the Brother’s Keeper participants take great pride in their production of the shop’s hand-crafted specialty items — braided fabric dog toys, stamped greeting cards and felt-padded coasters — and have also taken ownership the process.

To celebrate the opening of the new online shop and to further the program participants’ service to the community Brother’s Keeper will donate one braided dog toy to a local shelter pet for every dog toy sold at online store or at www.etsy.com/shop/BrothersKeeperTN or at retail outlets including Pinecrest Veterinary Clinic and ArtCurious Gallery.

More information at Brother’s Keeper program is available at brotherskeeperTN.org or may be obtained by calling 423-268-4624.

Email Sue Guinn Legg at slegg@johnsoncitypress.com. Follow her on Twitter @sueleggjcpress. Like her on Facebook at facebook.com/sueleggjcpress.

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