St. Madeleine Sophie’s Center (SMSC).

gtk st madeleineWe all need a place where we belong, where our talents and skills are nurtured and encouraged, where we can make friends and find that our lives have meaning and purpose. For more than 400 adults with developmental disabilities, that place is St. Madeleine Sophie’s Center.

For nearly 50 years, St. Madeleine Sophie’s Center (SMSC) has helped people with developmental disabilities to discover, explore, and nurture potential. The Center provides a “Life Program” that allows students to learn, grow and enjoy friendships and social activities throughout their lives. Students come to SMSC’s six-acre campus in El Cajon, California, daily to learn or improve marketable skills, develop creative outlets, earn a modest income, make friends and gain a sense of independence and self-esteem.

This year, they are proud to announce that through their Aquatics Program and the SMSC Triton Swim Team’s participation in Special Olympic swim meets, student Betsy Cory will be competing in the Special Olympics World Games 2015 in Los Angeles. Betsy will be one of only 3 athletes from the San Diego region to represent Team USA.

“St. Madeleine Sophie’s Center and I are so proud to have Betsy join Team USA in Los Angeles,” Debra Emerson, CEO of SMSC tells Giving Back Magazine. “The mission of the Special Olympics is such an important part of our community and to be able to support our student athlete competing at this global level is thrilling.”

Not only does the Aquatics Program train world-class athletes, but they also serve the health and wellness needs of students year round including adaptive Swim lessons reaching students like Andrew who initially had an aversion to the pool. Without being able to articulate his fear, it was discovered that with a diving mask to protect his nose and eyes from the water, he is an avid swimmer, loves the water and is even diving down in the deep end. His world just got a little bigger and that is what SMSC achieves with the support and contributions of the community and individuals who give.

And what would life be without art?

Another unique program at SMSC is the Performing and Fine Arts Program, which continues to expand and includes dance, music, and fine art – all of which will be highlighted during the 38th Haute with Heart Fashion Show: I Love Fashion. It is from the inspiration of an SMSC student’s painting, titled Lucille Ball, that this year’s theme was developed.

This year’s fashion show will benefit St. Madeleine’s Aquatics Program and Performing and Fine Arts Program – two unique and integral components of St. Madeleine’s curriculum. It is because of the generosity of our community through events like the Haute with Heart Fashion Show that St. Madeleine Sophie’s Center can continue its mission to educate and empower individuals with developmental disabilities to realize their full potential.