Filling a void

Published 10:46 am Tuesday, September 13, 2016

AHOSKIE – Sarah Grace Britton knows first-hand how the quality of life is impacted among those with intellectual and physical disabilities as she has two brothers with Down Syndrome.

Now, with the help of a grant from Trillium Health Resources, Britton has joined Easterseals UCP (United Cerebral Palsy) to open an Ahoskie location that will initially provide after-school care and services to children diagnosed with Autism, Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, etc.

Britton is also hopeful that the Ahoskie location, which opened Sept. 7, may be chosen for an Easterseals UCP pilot program that will offer services to adults with intellectual and physical disabilities as well, perhaps beginning as early as next month.

“The first phase of Hertford County’s program is the after school care,” Britton said. “We will be serving 30 school-aged children (ages 5-to-22) and their typically developing siblings on weekdays between the hours of 2:45 p.m. until 6 p.m. We will focus on helping them with homework as well as health and wellness initiatives.

“Since we have such a high need here in Hertford County, the next phase for our program is the Adult Health and Wellness program,” Britton continued. “We will be providing a program for 30 adults with intellectual or physical disabilities. Through this program they will learn life skills, participate in recreational activities, and develop a better understanding for health and wellness. Some of these activities include cooking classes, exercise classes, volunteering together at PAWS, etc.”

Easterseals UCP will be based in Ahoskie at 103 Loftin Lane, in the office complex located across Academy Street from the State Employees Credit Union. That office will accept clients, children and adults, from Hertford, Bertie, Gates and Northampton counties.

Britton will serve as Site Director at the Ahoskie office. There she will be joined by assistant Quakedra Futrell. Both women are Ahoskie natives and have taught Special Education in local schools.

“We have been getting the word out about the programs we will offer here by word of mouth, through flyers, and we have been in contact with the EC (Exceptional Children) teachers here locally,” Britton noted. “A person does not have to be recommended by a school program to enroll in our program; they, or their parents, can just fill out an application. A parent can call us and tell us what type of disability their child has and I can send them an application or they can stop by and pick one up. We are accepting applications right now.”

The final decision of those accepted into the program is made by Britton. She said priority is given to those not currently receiving Medicaid services.

Britton has an undergraduate degree in physiology and a masters in Special Education, both from Meredith College. She has an add-on K-12 Special Ed license.

Futrell has an undergraduate degree in physiology from Winston-Salem State University. Prior to joining Easterseals UCP, Futrell taught Special Education in the Roanoke Rapids School District.

To learn more about the Easterseals UCP location in Ahoskie or obtain an application, visit the office at 103 Loftin Lane, contact Britton by phone at 252-642-9101 or by email at

The office will also be staffed by four part-time employees.

Easterseals UCP has been part of the fabric of North Carolina and Virginia for 75 years. That legacy began with Easterseals NC, United Cerebral Palsy NC, and Easterseals Virginia. They joined forces as Easterseals UCP to intentionally work side-by-side with more than 20,000 individuals and their families, providing the broad network of services and support they need to achieve better days.

Trillium Health Resources is a local governmental agency (LME/MCO) that manages mental health, substance use and intellectual/developmental disability services in a 24-county area in eastern North Carolina. Their responsibility is to connect individuals and families to the help they need when they need it, and are responsible for managing state and federally funded services for people who receive Medicaid, are uninsured or cannot afford services.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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