MIDDLEPORT — The past year has been a challenge for many learning to adapt to the every changing safety requirements and precautions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Those at Inclusions in Middleport are no different, learning to adapt while still meeting the needs of those served by the agency.
Inclusions is a day program for those with developmental disabilities, while also providing home services to clients.
Mary Miller, who operates Inclusions, said they had to “be creative” during the pandemic, as their clients are used to spending time in the community and going on outings as a group.
In the early part of the pandemic, Inclusions was closed for seven weeks, until guidelines and safety precautions were in place to safely reopen. Even while things were shut down at the building, home services continued to clients.
“Our staff wanted to continue coming and working with clients,” said Miller.
When clients were able to return to the clubhouse, there were new precautions in place, with furniture moved further apart, markings on the floor for six feet of distance and a limit of 10 people inside at any given time.
Since the first of the year, capacity limits have changed to allow up to 12 clients and adequate staff to be in the building at any given time. Masks are still required, unless socially distanced or other requirements are met.
“Outings have stopped, but we can do a lot outside,” explained Miller. She added they have learned to pitch horseshoes, played outside games such as yard Yahtzee, and bowling.
“They have missed a lot of the things that they are used to, like the fair and other festivals, so we created our own carnival in our backyard,” said Miller. She added that they were able to have fair foods, carnival games, prizes and more, with the help of Eastern National Honor Society members.
Inside, the clients have been taking part in socially distanced exercise classes, movie days, and modified cooking activities. Previously, cooking classes had been taking place weekly, now, the group decides on recipes, but one staff member takes care of the actual cooking.
Among some of the favorite new activities during the pandemic have been fishing days at Krodel Park, celebrating lesser known holidays such as Root Beer Float Day, contests for participants, and birthday celebrations with take out from local businesses.
They are also working on raised garden beds where each client will be able to plant flowers, vegetables or other items of their choice.
“Social distancing has been the hardest part, some understand it, some do not,” said Miller. “For the most part our clients have handled it all very well.”
As things have started to open back up, Inclusions participants and staff have been able to go on some smaller outings, returning to bowling and other past favorites. Miller explained that before they go, a call is made to the location to determine what social distancing and other precautions are being taken to ensure the safety of everyone taking part.
Miller said that upcoming events and activities, such as attending the fair and summer festivals will be determined closer to the event depending on how things are at that time.
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Sarah Hawley is the managing editor of The Daily Sentinel.