The Wish Zone
Back in 1990 a missionary priest in Taiwan was the parish priest of a small parish that had a small kindergarten attached. The kindergarten was underused and struggling. The priest, Father Gerry Neylon, a Columban missionary from Ireland, began to notice that little help was available at that time for families who had children with special needs. By coincidence, (or was it just a coincidence?) an American lay missionary who had expertise in special education became available to work with Fr. Gerry to do something for the children with special needs. From those modest beginnings, a new institution called The Holy Family Center for Special Education came into being.
A few years passed and the founders were transferred to other assignments, but the growth of the center continued. It was slow but steady and, most importantly, continuous. By 2007 the center was outgrowing its original location in a couple of kindergarten classrooms. A board of directors was now in place and with the support of the Bishop Lee of the local diocese, they began to plan a five story building that was eventually dubbed "the wish zone."It took about $1.8 million (US) dollars from the Social and Family Affairs Administration of the Ministry of Welfare, and another $180,000 from the Taiwan lottery and a great many small donations from the community, but eventually the wish zone became a reality in 2012.
It is a place where young people who often feel that they can’t do what others do, find they can learn skills and make their own contribution to society.
The most important thing about the wish zone is not the building, but what goes on inside the building and even more importantly inside the hearts and minds of the students. It is a place where young people who often feel that they can't do what others do, find they can learn skills and make their own contribution to society. For many of the students even simple tasks need to be broken up into simple steps in order to be mastered. But with patience and practice, faith and hope, there are skills that can be learned. The teachers and their own skills and patience are the most important ingredient in this recipe for educational success: impossible dreams becoming wishes come true.