Bigger Center Adds Options for Disabled; the Woodbine Facility Will Teach Life and Job Skills to More Clients

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Byline: GORDON JACKSON

WOODBINE - For more than 20 years, participants at a Woodbine program for disabled persons had limited training alternatives.

They learned to build bird houses and crab traps, and to shape wooden stakes for highway projects.

Program coordinators for Gateway Behavioral Health Services described the program as "a sheltered workshop."

"It was one size fits all," said Barbara Meyers, administrative director for Gateway.

After Dec. 11, the prospects will be much different for adults enrolled at the Woodbine Developmental Disabilities Center for Excellence.

Renovations are completed at the gymnasium at the Ralph Bunche Education Complex, an old school that once housed African-American students before Camden County schools were integrated.

The $500,000 project involved renovating the building and adding a new kitchen, laundry room and touch-screen computers to increase the number of training programs.

Meyers said the new facility is the model for what she hopes every Gateway training program will be like one day.

Participants will work in a mock grocery store, kitchen or laundry facility to learn skills that could lead to jobs. They also will learn daily living skills, such as dressing, eating, counting money and making beds. …