Throughout the week the participants are able to express themselves through their artwork. The participants learn the different techniques and styles there are to art. Participants share their interests and personalities through the art projects. Some of our art sessions are taught by our lovely volunteers Sally and Natalie. Once a week the program is also led by a staff member where the activities focus more on the participants expressing their emotions through art.
Next Chapter Book Club is a program designed to give adults with developmental disabilities a chance to become an active member of a book club. Our facilitators learned strategies to help both readers and non-readers get as much as they can out of this once a week meeting. A vital ingredient to the Next Chapter Book Club, and one that coincides nicely with the Our Place mission, is that every book club meeting needs to take place out in the community. Whether a reader or not, every participant has the opportunity to fully participate. There is so much for the group to discuss on every page: plot, characters, feelings, predictions, pictures, and more. By taking turns reading aloud and through guided questions to aide in comprehension of the plot and characters, participants are able to become fully immersed in the book club experience.
Once a month, the participants get to make lunch with a local “celebrity.” This program provides the participants with the opportunity to learn new and fun meals they can prepare and share at home. The celebrity chef brings their recipe that they would like to share with the group. The group gets to wear their chef hats, learn the ins and outs of the recipe and enjoy the meal they made.
Community Activities are a wonderful way for our participants to interact in activities with their friends outside of Our Place. Outings give them the opportunity to practice their social skills while engaging with other community members. Through these interactions, participants become more confident in their ability to attend community activities independently. Previous outings have included exploring the city of Chicago, visiting museums, volunteering at the Anti-Cruelty Society, playing bocce ball, miniature golf, field days and more!
Community Lunch gives participants a chance to practice advocating for themselves, using money, and making healthy choices all while being out in the community. Once a week, small participant groups decide on a location in the community to eat lunch. Participants are encouraged to make healthy choices and order for themselves at the restaurant. Not only is it one of the participants’ favorite activities, but continued practice helps the participants feel more at ease when ordering food and while socializing with friends at a restaurant.
Dance Center is an opportunity for participants to interact with their peers in a socially fun and engaging environment. During dance center basic dance steps are learned as are the names of the dance they are working on. Through practice and partnering the dance becomes more involved evolving into more complicated steps. The program also provides a natural healthy way to exercise.
Exercise with David
Twice a week, participants head over to the Wilmette Recreation Center to spend an hour with David, our personal trainer. David leads the participants in warm up stretches before taking them to the track where they have the option to walk, jog, or run. Participants then have the option to spend some time trying out different cardio machines, or go into a studio room where David shows them some movement exercises.
Participants have the opportunity to practice their floor hockey skills while hanging out in a supportive environment with their friends. We go over different techniques on proper stick handling and passing using softer pucks and sticks with foam blades. At the end of the program, participants split into teams for a game to practice what they’ve learned. Floor hockey is a great way for the participants to exercise and practice their teamwork and social skills, all while having a blast with their friends!
Barry Siegel is a poet who has developed a program to enhance the expressive language of persons with disabilities. Heartwords is a program created to encourage participants with special needs, gifts and disabilities to express their feelings, observations and imaginations through the written word.
Twice a month we meet up with the Reach Program from the Center of Enriched Living. Participants get the change to expand friendships and socialize with peers outside of Our Place. The two agencies alternate hosting a special lunch for the first time they meet. When the group meets for a second time they go bowling.
The participants work together to publish their very own newsletter, Special Opps News. This is an opportunity for participants to explore their creative sides. Some of the responsibilities included are writing their own articles, choosing the layout, and editing the newsletter. These tasks help with time management, researching topics of personal interest, and collaborating with one another.
Participants will use the pool at the Northbrook YMCA to swim some laps in the pool. They will work on improving their overall swimming technique in order to get ready for Special Olympics in the spring.
Once a month, Chris comes in to teach the participants about rhythm, tone, pitch, and more by making music with a variety of instruments. The participants get to use bongo drums, egg shakers, drum sticks and more as they follow along to the beats that Chris leads with. Everyone always has a smile on their face as they try to recreate the beats that Chris plays!