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Autism Cook Islands launches new hub

Thursday 23 June 2022 | Written by Sian Solomon | Published in Local, National

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Autism Cook Islands launches new hub
Aporo Vano who is part of the Autism transition group cuts the ribbon to officially open the new Autism Cook Islands hub. Photo: SIAN SOLOMON/22062130

Autism Cook Islands (ACI) officially opened its new hub in Matavera on Friday for members of the Autism community here in the Cook Islands.

The new space will offer access to support services and programmes for Autism members and their families more easily, with the organisation coordinating and offering programmes that include LEGO masters, kiwi cricket, cooking classes and family workshops and events.

A reading programme for transition students has also been made available at the new premises, as well as a library for parents to borrow books and resources from, with an automotive workshop to be held during the school holidays.

The new hub will also act as the organisation’s main office while providing awareness programmes to schools and the community.

President of Autism Cook Islands Gloria Rarere-Tinirau, who welcomed guests to the official opening of the hub on Friday, said she was proud and humbled that ACI had become an organisation that could provide various support for more than 50 families across Rarotonga and the Pa Enua.

In her speech, she said that the new hub was not just a building or a base for the organisation’s work, but marked the organisations progression over the last five years and was a significant step up. 

Aporo Vano (left) with Pastor Clark (middle) who blessed the new premises with the president of Autism Cook Islands Gloria Rarere-Tinirau (right). Photo: SIAN SOLOMON/22062131

“This is another step along the pathway to the bigger vision (that) we have,” Rarere-Tinirau said. “We are humbled by the tremendous amount of support we have had to get us thus far.

“We also have two incredible staff members and a dedicated volunteer network that enables us to continue to develop and grow our programmes,” she added.

“As a charitable organisation, this is made possible through the generosity of our community with our fundraising events and grants that we are able to secure.”

Kat Jensen, who is the programme manager for Autism Cook Islands, said she was excited about this next chapter of the organisation’s journey.

Over the past couple of years, Autism CI has operated out of a shared space with the Creative Centre, which is located in Tupapa and supports people with disabilities.

Programme manager for Autism Cook Islands, Kat Jensen. Photo: SIAN SOLOMON/22062132

Earlier this year it was decided that the organisation would need to move to a new and bigger space to help cater for the organisation’s growth, which has been steady.

Jensen said: “There is no better feeling than being able to really help and support our families, and this hub will give us even more opportunity to make a difference.”