Sunshine House Community Center for People with Disabilities

After you have read the three posts about the Sunshine House (Meet the House, the People, and the Activities), what are your initial reflections on the supports provided for persons ages 18-35 in China? What are some of the positive aspects? What are some of the challenges? What questions do you have? Do you recognize any specific intellectual disabilities in the photos?

A collection of Wah's paintings of Chinese Opera masks

Meet the People of the Sunshine House

The Sunshine House works with people with 5 different types of disabilities:

  1. Deafness and hearing loss
  2. Visual impairments
  3. Physical impairments
  4. Intellectual disabilities
  5. Mental Illness

The Sunshine House for People with Mental Disabilities serves people with moderate intellectual disability. Those with mild intellectual disability do not receive services. Those with severe disabilities who cannot visit the House in person are called by staff members and staff also do house visits. The Sunshine House Director said that in this community of Shanghai, 1700 people are registered as having a disability and 174 have an intellectual disability. The Sunshine House serves people ages 18-35 and those over the age of 35 are expected to be cared for by their retired parents. In the case that the Sunshine House is not crowded, individuals over the ages of 35 can stay and attend the House.

In the photos below, you will see some persons in the Sunshine House on the day that we visited.

Activities of the Sunshine House

When we arrived at the Sunshine House for People with Mental Disabilities, the people were engaged in a semi-skilled assembly project of putting together two components: a sponge in a plastic handle. Then, assembled objects were packed in plastic sheaths and the items packed into boxes and sealed. The Director of the Sunshine House explained that this was a working relationship developed with a company from Taiwan- the Sunshine House attendees would assemble the objects. If the attendees met a certain standard of work performance, they could possibly earn a paid position in a factory. The photos below show some of the assembly process

We also observed the people of the Sunshine House engaging in song and dance with a volunteer teacher. This was teacher-led sing-a-long and peer-led. You’ll see these photos below.

The Director said that 21 people of the Sunshine House have gotten paid jobs. Unfortunately, she said that sometimes the work is of very low pay and sometimes it is not valuable nor essential work, i.e., the person may not even need to show up for the job and would still receive a paycheck. The Chinese laws state that companies must meet a quota of 3% of their employees be persons with disabilities, or else the company would need to pay a fine. The fines collected from companies who do not meet the quota go towards funding for foundations, like the Sunshine House. Below you’ll see a photo of the members who have secured employment.

The members of the House who have secured employment

Meet the Sunshine House

In Shanghai, China, the Sunshine House for People with Disabilities provides support at a community level. Shanghai has a population of 23 million people (compare to Greater Boston with a population of 7.8 million people and New York City with a population of 8.4 million- I disclaim accuracy of any figures) and the city has 18 districts. Every 7-8 city blocks have a Sunshine House nestled in the heart of the high-rise apartment buildings. We were told that there are around 300 of these Sunshine Houses in Shanghai and they are supported both by government and private funding. The Chinese government started the Sunshine Houses in 2005 in order to prepare for the 2007 Special Olympics in Shanghai. This Sunshine House sat in a central courtyard, with the primary house a short walk along landscaped paths to the Sunshine House for People with Mental Disabilities. Please meet this Sunshine House in the eastern-most part of Shanghai.