Community Herald: Ensuring that each person SOARS

Meet the team at SOARS: Mary Anne Nearing, Anthoney Gough, Tonya Oxford, Shawn O'Connell and Lindsay MacEachern. (L-R).
Meet the team at SOARS: Mary Anne Nearing, Anthoney Gough, Tonya Oxford, Shawn O’Connell and
Lindsay MacEachern. (L-R). “We’ve all been involved in different agencies … and we’ve become aware there isn’t the opportunities for these guys to have multiple day programs to go too. We have a lot of programs that are on waiting lists,” says Nearing.

A ‘people-first’ philosophy and a focus on creating opportunities for individuals living with physical or intellectual challenges, is at the heart of SOARS, which opened on June 28 in Knox United Church in Sackville.

Social Opportunities and Rec Society of Nova Scotia is a not-for-profit society providing day programs, drop-in’s and summer camps for people between age 16 and 35, with a focus on persons deemed with complex case or placement issues.

“We want to have a grassroots, personal approach,” says founder and executive director Anthoney Gough from Middle Sackville. “If you keep people first in all your planning and development at all stages of your programs and activities, then you can’t go wrong.”

The youngest from a family of 16 brothers and sisters, Gough says he learned from an early age that everyone has a variety of strengths and weaknesses and that there are many societal barriers making it difficult for certain members of society, whether minority or ability-based.

“From a very young age, if I could see it, I just tried to do it,” says Gough.

He says he saw the need to help the growing number of people with disabilities awaiting services. “There’s 145 people on wait lists around the metro area and that’s only the tip of the iceberg … many people haven’t applied to wait lists and there’s 16 high schools … so let’s say four kids coming out every year, that’s about 64 kids every year. Where are those 64 going every year?” asks Gough.

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