Wendell Foster’s Campus for Developmental Disabilities got some visitors from the Czech Republic today, as members of the delegation from the Owensboro Sister Region program, sponsored by the Green River Area Development District, joined Chief Executive Officer Carrie Blackham for a tour of the campus at 815 Triplett St.
Owensboro became Sister Cities with the City of Olomouc, in the region of Moravia, Czech Republic, during the summer of 1994. The relationship grew out of an initial contact made at the 1993 Sister Cities International conference held in Houston, Texas.
The program expanded into a Sister Region when the Green River Area Development District (GRADD), representing a seven-county area in western Kentucky, and the Olomouc Kraj (Region), comprising thirteen counties in Central Moravia, reached an agreement to become Sister Regions under Sister Cities International in May 2005.
Blackham has been to Olomouc twice through the Sister Cities and Regions program. “It’s a beautiful city. It’s very rich in tradition and history,” she said.
The overall theme for the 14-member delegation’s visit to Daviess County is economic development, with an emphasis on social services for the special needs population, which is what brought Alena Fritscherova, co-founder of Ryzacek, a civic organization concentrating on alternative forms of physical therapy for those with special needs; and Hana Benarikova, a PhD student who works for Ryzacek and for the Center for Painful Conditions and Movement Disorders, to Wendell Foster’s this afternoon. The two women are involved in equine therapy in the Czech Republic and specialized services for people with disabilities.
“The rest of our delegation is at an economic development summit today organized by GRADD,” said translator Joseph Tetera, who has been to Owensboro twice through the Sister Region program.
The group has been in Owensboro since last Thursday, and will depart this Thursday. Joseph explained that Wednesday will be a significant day for the group. “Our Vice Governor of Kraj will sign an intent to extend our cooperation agreement with GRADD,” he said.
Tuesday, Alena and Hana will visit Country Heights Elementary School in the morning, followed by a visit to Dream Riders. At Country Heights, they will spend time in Crystal Corum’s classroom for students who are deaf and hard of hearing, and Candace McIntire’s special needs classroom. It will be a unique visit for visitors, students and staff members.
“We are looking forward to welcoming our visitors to Country Heights,” said CHES guidance counselor Cindy Heady. “We are very proud of the work we do on behalf of students with special needs, and we are also excited to introduce children to visitors from the Czech Republic as a wonderful opportunity to bring the world into the classroom right here in Daviess County.”