As recreationists working it various care and service settings, we can become totally absorbed in programming for our immediate community of residents or clients. As advocates for engagement and normalization, we must challenge ourselves to look beyond our organizations, and recognize that we, and our residents, are part of a larger community beyond the walls of our facilities.
The benefits of bringing the outside into your home or organization are profound. Your residents are exposed to new faces and perspectives and feel that they too are a part of the “normal” society. Conversely, outsiders become more aware of the living that is going on in your home, which helps to overcome the negative stereotypes that some may still hold.
Some examples of programs we have seen and experienced that have had a significant impact include:
- Programs involving children from elementary schools, engaging with residents through shared interests, reading programs, etc.
- Programs with students from secondary schools, engaging in everything from interpersonal exchanges to even competitive programs (such as “Are You as Smart as an Octogenarian”).
- Providing space for community events such as job fairs, community associations or club meetings.
- Hosting a Community Appreciation Day – for the entire community! (We have experienced what a day of free hot dogs, refreshments, and entertainment can do for community awareness and support for a home!).
- Hosting an art festival, with local artists displaying their works, talking to visitors, and selling their products.
- Contacting the local high school or college, and asking about the offering of a course on your “campus,” open to the regular students, and available on an audit basis for your residents.
This is just a sampling of the types of programs that can be presented in your home, to help bring the outside in. Let us know about some programs that have worked well for you – and we will share them within our ActivityPro community, and credit you with the contribution if you’d like to be recognized.