Shelby County C.A.T.S meet after 3 years

Published 2:37 pm Wednesday, August 31, 2022

By NOAH WORTHAM | Staff Writer

COLUMBIANA– Shelby County C.A.T.S met for the first time in 3 years on Saturday, Aug. 27.

C.A.T.S is an acronym that stands for conversations, alumni, transition and socialization.

The primary function of C.A.T.S is to plan events that allow communication with young transitional adults who were previously in a special education program.

“It’s very important that we provide something in our local community, an area that’s feasible for kids to go to, to know that they still have something to look forward to,” Special Education Teacher Marisol (Soli) Lilly said. “There’s often so many supports while they’re in school, but then once they exit they may go to work, they may be someone that stays at home.”

The C.A.T.S meeting was held at 10 a.m. at the Columbiana church of Christ.

“We’re extremely grateful that the church has allowed us to have a place where we can feel safe, and come and fellowship,” Lilly said. “And most importantly, to teach other people who are not familiar with young adults with disabilities, and just show them love and let them know that they’re important.”

At the meeting attendees enjoyed snacks and looked over scrapbooks of memories from during their time at Shelby County High School.

“Even though we’ve taught them for so many years, the teaching never ends,” she said. “It feels like you just left off, right where you left off, when you get together.”

Previously, due to the outbreak of COVID-19, C.A.T.S had halted its meetings.

“It’s time to get back to the normal days of life even if we have to coach through that, of what it looks like,” Lilly said.

Although the event is targeted at alumni of the Working Wildcats, it is open to anyone else who would like to participate.

“If you ever had someone who had a disability, they may be standoffish to bring somebody because they don’t know how other people (might) react,” she said. “Building awareness is so important, so we will be very open.”

For the next C.A.T.S meeting they will go watch Field of Angels at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 17.

Those interested in participating can join the C.A.T.S Facebook group.