Sylvester program aims to help adults with special needs

Video from WALB
Published: Aug. 9, 2022 at 7:24 PM EDT
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ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - One program in Sylvester is aiming to help adults with special needs.

Nicole Braswell is one of the co-founders of Opal Project.

Nicole Braswell is one of the co-founders of Opal Project.
Nicole Braswell is one of the co-founders of Opal Project.(WALB)

“Opal stands for opportunity, purpose and abundant living,” Braswell said. “So our main goal is to give our individuals opportunities. So they can discover their purpose and live independent and abundant lives.”

The Opal Project helps people of all ages, but this week’s outreach program is aimed at adults.

Jakin Tillery is another co-founder of the program.

“Both Nicole and I had been special education teachers for years, and we were both in the high school setting,” Tillery said. “And we just saw that our kids were gaining all these great skills throughout high school, but then as soon as they graduated and aged out, there were very few resources out there for them.”

Jakin Tillery is one of the co-founders of the Opal Project.
Jakin Tillery is one of the co-founders of the Opal Project.(WALB)

Those in the program take on activities they might not otherwise do. Like volunteering at a humane society, going shopping for groceries and preparing meals.

Braswell said the community support has been great.

“We’ve had a tremendous response from our community,” Braswell said. “We couldn’t do this without our community. We’ve had a great response. The humane society has been awesome. They love partnering with us and letting our guys come out and work.”

She said the participants love it as well.

“They love to get out and meet people. And show people what they’re capable of, and love to go out and work,” Braswell said. “The more that they do and more that they see they can do, their confidence and independence just explodes.”

Ty Sorrells is a volunteer for the Opal Project.
Ty Sorrells is a volunteer for the Opal Project.(WALB)

Volunteer Ty Sorrells said he’s learned many things since signing up.

“Treat people the same no matter what. They’re all the same. They’re all nice,” he said.

Sorrells said one of his favorite trips was to Albany’s Flint RiverQuarium.

Cameron McKey is an Opal Project participant.
Cameron McKey is an Opal Project participant.(WALB)

Something Cameron McKey enjoyed too.

“I hung out with my friends. I like going on trips to eat lunch,” McKey said.

Kentavien Walker has been with the program for a while now.

Kentavien Walker has been an Opal Project participant for two years.
Kentavien Walker has been an Opal Project participant for two years.(WALB)

“This is my second year,” he said. “Mom doesn’t like me being stuck in the house, nothing to do. And I come out in the community and help people out.”

Program founders said the group has events frequently and that if people want to get involved, they should follow the program’s Facebook.

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