‘Building bridges’ the goal for new day program for developmentally-delayed adults

PALMERSTON – Renovations are complete and the finishing touches added with only four weeks remaining before the March 7 opening of the Building Bridges Adult Day Program, a new business providing services to adults with developmental delays.

Getting here has been a long time coming for founder and program facilitator Sierra-Lynn Moreira, who, in 2017, made starting a program her life’s work after working at a day program placement for her degree in family and community social service.

“It is such a good time where you can engage with the individuals and you’re having fun and they’re having fun, but the biggest thing that I noticed was … such a long waitlist and people were travelling near and far to go to this program,” Moreira told the Advertiser of her earlier experience.


Services are already lacking for developmentally-delayed adults – a definition broadly encompassing everyone from those on the autism spectrum to those with cerebral palsy – and with service providers tending to gravitate toward urban centres, rural areas like Minto can be left wanting.

“If we don’t have these services, then unfortunately there’s really nowhere for the adults to go or they remain on waitlists,” she said.

And waitlists can result in the loss of hard-fought lessons and social skills.

“If you don’t use it, you lose it,” she remarked. “It’s been a tough time with COVID.”

The Erin resident reached out to other day programmers for wisdom and queried the needs of area families to see where services were needed and finally settled on the 155 William St. location.

The goal of Building Bridges, Moreira explained, is to foster adults who are socially aware, independent and engage with their community and those around them.

“We really want to get into different types of programming with local amenities in and around Palmerston to have these adults actively engaged with the community,” she said.

“It’s moving towards building a more inclusive community and providing support and services to build inclusivity.”

She added she hopes relationships will be a two-way street, with “meaningful, age-appropriate conversations with people out in the community.”

While developmentally-delayed adults may have to overcome more challenges and barriers than usual to build social connections and relationships with others, Moreira said “they’re all very capable” and “flourish when they’re given the chance.”

“Sometimes they aren’t given the time of day, which is unfortunate — but when they are, they shock a lot of people because a lot of them are very smart or they have their own hidden talents,” she said.

Inside the Building Bridges Adult Day Program at 55 William St. in Palmerston. Submitted photo


On any given day, participants may have an educational workshop in the morning before transitioning into making lava lamps or going to CNR Park.

Following a lunch break, the afternoon may be spent learning how to grow plants before ending the day with karaoke or bingo.

Operating weekdays from 8:30am to 3:30pm, regular programming is geared to adults out of high school with a range of impairments and needs (such as specialized feeding or toileting), but services are also provided to students on seasonal breaks, like the approaching March break.

Until demand for her service increases and more support workers are brought on, Moreira will run the program with a four-to-one (client-to-worker) ratio.

“It’s brand new and the word is just getting out there,” she said, adding interest in her program for the upcoming March break has been significant.

“It’s so exciting seeing it really come to life, especially with just over a month before opening.”

Although doors open the second week of March, Moreira plans to have an official grand opening when people can gather outdoors in the summertime.