NYON Living with special needs, either physical or intellectual, is no impediment to a full and active life in the Lake Geneva region.
Stretching from Geneva to Montreux, the region offers an often unique wealth of opportunities for children and adults living with special needs. These include private and state-run schools and centres for youngsters with physical and learning disabilities, such as the Cité Radieuse in Echichens or the Institution de Lavigny above Morges. Geneva and Vaud seek where possible to include children with disabilities in mainstream education. Policies are in place to encourage training and integration in the workplace. Meanwhile, numerous associations offer support to those living with special needs, and their families. There are half-way houses for recuperating drug addicts or for young people with depression seeking to re-integrate themselves in active society.
But it’s not all work and no play. For people living with special needs, being able to participate in leisure activities is equally important. Here, too, the area offers several opportunities.
Geneva-based Cap Loisirs is a case in point. Founded in 1980, the not-for-profit association offers structured leisure time activities for children and adults living with a mental disability. The range of pursuits on offer is impressive and includes, among others, horse-riding, cycling, skiing, archery, and swimming as well as cultural activities. Cap Loisirs also arranges fully inclusive ‘adventure’ holidays ranging from a weekend to three weeks. Destinations have included Australia, Canada, France, Norway and even Mongolia where participants crossed the Steppes on horseback and slept in Yurts! All activities are organised and supervised by a team of fully trained, specialised, multilingual staff whose dedication is unparalleled.
Thanks to Cap Loisirs, children and young people for whom such activities might ordinarily be out of reach are able to develop their full potential and lead well-rounded active lives. It also means that parents, families and carers are able to get some much needed respite safe in the knowledge that their charges are being taken care of in a happy and secure environment. The association additionally hosts sports days that bring together able participants and those with special needs as part of efforts to encourage their integration. On average, it welcomes 450 participants, one-third of them children and adolescents, and organises the equivalent of 8,000 activity days.
Today, the association is very much part of the Geneva fabric. An important date in Cap Loisirs’ calendar is the annual plant sale, a fundraiser that seeks to raise awareness of the services offered by the association and encourage more people to join in. Organized entirely by volunteers, this event is more than a simple plant sale. It is a chance to meet others who take part in Cap Loisirs’ activities and to share experience and insights. It is also a testimony to the importance that people place in Cap Loisirs and its activities. In a show of support for the association, the plants are supplied by local horticulturalists and market gardeners, several ‘vignerons’ supply wine for sale by the glass or bottle, a local business donates refreshments, volunteers bake cakes, while local musicians provide entertainment. In short, it’s a fun day out. To find out more about Cap Loisirs and its activities, visit the website. For details of other organisations and associations for people with special needs, visit this page.