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        DELTA

State Training Center Breaks Down Barriers Affecting Persons with Mental Retardation

(Hillsville, VA) - A new system for providing services for persons with mental retardation, and those caring for them, is being established in Southwest Virginia. Recent state funding has established Southwestern Virginia Training Center (SWVTC) as a Regional Community Support Center (RCSC). 

The fundamental goal is to ease the transition from living in a state facility to a community based group home. Currently, more than 200 residents with mental retardation from the 17 counties and four independent cities in the Southwest Virginia region live on the Hillsville campus. The newly established center will serve as a hub to provide a range of services for clients, throughout the community. 

"This new program represents a real opportunity for SWVTC to have a positive impact not just on the lives of persons with mental retardation who live at our facility, but also to provide assistance to persons who live in our region of the state," said facility Director Dr. Dale Woods, Ed.D.

Dental services and training are among the biggest ingredients of the system. But it also includes behavioral psychiatric consultation, along with training for community providers, community services board staff, parents and teachers. It will even offer assistance in mobility and balance training in coordination with the engineering department at Virginia Tech. 

The new system already has an intense training component. A kickoff workshop was held earlier this month in Abingdon for clients, families and community service providers. Community response has already been overwhelming. 

"I was so surprised at the positive outpouring," said Karen Poe, SWVTC's staff development director. Poe and Candice Coffin of the Mount Rogers Community Services Board have created joint training between the facility and the community. 

"The people who benefit are the people with mental retardation in Southwest Virginia," according to Poe. 

"This new outreach program reflects the confidence that the General Assembly and the Governor have in SWVTC to provide a high level of services for persons with mental retardation," said Director Woods "It is proving to be a rewarding challenge as we work together to establish this important service".


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