Monday, April 23, 2012

Painting the Town Red

Wendell Foster’s Campus (WFC) is very blessed in many ways beyond the holiday season.  Members of the community and various groups bring their skills, talents and gifts to share with those we serve.  Through a variety of event offerings, the individuals who live on our Campus enjoy the opportunity to try new things, challenge and expand their abilities, have fun and be a part of all that we enjoy in our community throughout the year.

One of the first events held at the Campus after my arrival was a theatrical production of “The Helping Hoof”, presented by the theater department of Kentucky Wesleyan College (KWC).   In full costume, the students performed this simple theatrical piece for their audience.   Bringing such activities like “The Helping Hoof” to our Campus makes it convenient for WFC individuals, especially when health/medical challenges makes going out difficult or impossible.  Many of those who live on Campus work, have a number of therapy or doctor’s appointments, or other things they do, so not everyone can attend these events.  They also have a choice to attend or not, just like you and I have a choice to attend any activity or event in the community.

Most get out in the community, and WFC strongly encourages this effort.  For example, a volunteer Community Companion took someone out to a local ball game at Owensboro’s Sportscenter.  One time, a local banker attending a sporting event at the Sportscenter noticed a few of our WFC peeps in attendance.  The next morning, he called my supervisor to say he saw them at the game and how distracting they were.  Uncertain, my supervisor listened as the banker explained he had more fun watching them enjoy the game with each other and their Direct Support Providers (DSP) than the game itself!  He noted they appeared to be a group of friends having a good time rather than three “WFC clients” with staff members standing by. 

Yes, getting out, engaging and connecting within our community is important; after all, these individuals are a part of our community too.  Jenny wanted to celebrate her twenty-first birthday like every other young adult wants to mark such a monumental life event.  So, she had a girls’ night out in which a few staff members joined her (on their personal time) to take her out for dinner at Texas Roadhouse and then, dancing at a local club.  I ran into several folks from our Supports for Community Living program strolling through Legion Park enjoying the Christmas lights display.  Even a few go down to the Eight Ball and enjoy breakfast, or a beer. 

Brad loves to ride a Rifton Tricycle around the building.  This three-wheeled adult bike is a physical therapy tool facilitating exercise and range of motion in the hip and legs.  There’s plenty of room to ride around the Campus building hallways and grounds, but wouldn’t you want to hit the “open road” with a “new set of wheels?”  With one phone call to a Campus supporter who belongs to a local Owensboro cycling club, arrangements were made for Brad to ride with the group on the Green Belt.  A man.  A “trike”.  The open road.  Brad is a different person when he’s riding, free and fulfilled.

Hugh E. Sandefur Industries is a non-profit organization out of Henderson, KY with a satellite facility on our Campus.  They offer individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities employment development and opportunities, job placement as well as work and social skills.  Each year they host a Christmas party in Henderson, which includes a DJ and a dance floor.  Several of our Campus peeps who work at the Owensboro location gussied up and headed to Henderson to dance the night away.  Rumor has it they cut a serious rug that night.

I recently was talking to an older relative about how many of the individuals we serve get out and about in the community; she was surprised to hear they even leave our Campus!  Many think those we serve can't and don't, believing they wouldn’t enjoy the many things you and I enjoy.  But they do, and do they ever!  They enjoy music, sports, and shopping, looking at Christmas lights, dancing, socializing and eating out.  Just like you and me. 

When we can bring the fun, dancing and music to them on Campus, we welcome it; but we encourage and facilitate participation in life outside of Campus – to live their lives in their community, just like you and I do.

In the Next Blog Entry: The Campus Cool Cat Be-Bop - “. . . my gal-pal Greta wheeling her way under that Limbo stick.  Upon clearing it, she stops for her moment of triumph and gives a thumbs-up to the audience who responded with cheers!”

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