Adaptive Recreation Program offers social connection, despite ongoing pandemic

Adaptive Recreation Program offers social connection, despite ongoing pandemic

Photo Credits: AGGIE FILE

In-person, virtual events allow participants to build friendships while following social distancing guidelines

The City of Davis recently announced that its “Adaptive Recreation Team will offer programming this fall season with new virtual and socially distant options,” after a hiatus during the spring and summer due to COVID-19, according to a news statement published on Sept. 16. 

Jillian LeDuc, the community services program coordinator at Adaptive Recreation and Reasonable Accomodations, explained that the program gives adults with disabilities a space to socialize and have fun.

“Adaptive Recreation is a program that provides opportunities for adults with developmental disabilities to socialize and recreate,” LeDuc said, via email. “This Fall we are offering a mix of virtual and in-person programming.”

All programs being offered are compliant with guidelines from the county and state for group gatherings. The release describes that recreation groups have a limit of 12 people, occur outdoors with mandated masks and must maintain six feet of distance between participants. 

“Due to safety guidelines and protocols, participants must  be able to provide their own transportation to and from the event as the City of Davis is unable to provide transportation to participants at this time,” the press release reads.

Despite the current pandemic, the Adaptive Recreation program offers a way for people to connect with each other, both online and in person. The weekly virtual Social Hours consist of crafts, enjoyable conversations and games, according to LeDuc. 

“Our in-person events are local activities to meet with intention,” LeDuc said. “That intention is to do something small but mighty. With all the limitations, less is more right now.”

Examples of events that have been held so far include “a Socially Distant Ice Cream Social, bocce ball hangouts, and an afternoon stroll to enjoy the outdoors and some frozen yogurt,” according to LeDuc. 

Future events include a cemetery history walk in October for Halloween, a trip to the pumpkin patch, a harvest picnic in November and more bocce ball, while continuing to comply with safety rules and regulations. 

LeDuc also explained how the idea for the program originated. 

“Adaptive Rec has provided 45 years of programming for community members with intellectual or developmental disabilities,” LeDuc said. “In the past, the program has offered weekend trips, weekly bowling sessions and other special activities. With the addition of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the program expanded as reasonable accommodations in Parks and Community programming was legally mandated. The City of Davis has a commitment to inclusiveness and making a difference.”

Due to COVID-19, Adaptive Recreation has had to find ways to operate differently, according to LeDuc.

“We are doing what we do best, adapting,” LeDuc said. 

A calendar for the events can also be found on a web page for Parks and Community Services.

“The landmark Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) expands protection and choices for individuals with disabilities,” the website reads. “Many opportunities are available that may enhance the quality of life through the pursuit of leisure activities. The City of Davis is proud to offer both inclusive and separate recreational activities to ensure that community members have choices while in search of these goals.”

In addition, LeDuc also explained she hopes the program is a positive outlet for people to meet up safely. 

“[…]We are keeping the goals simple: Take advantage of the small things we haven’t been able to do,” LeDuc said. “The goal is to provide the opportunity for friends to get together and look forward to something each week.”

Some of the friendships span decades, and the goal of the program is to continue to grow these friendships while forming new ones, according to LeDuc.

“My biggest hope is to be able to hug participants again!” LeDuc said. “Moreover, to eventually have big Friday night parties with karaoke and go on the big trips that Adaptive Recreation has been known for. That might take some time, but we hope to roll with the hurdles and obstacles.”

Despite the challenges caused by COVID-19, the program offers a way for participants to connect with each other.

“Regaining a sense of community and togetherness is crucial now more than ever,” LeDuc said via email. “Getting together has offered a connection that has been missing from our resident’s lives.”

Written by: Shraddha Jhingan — city@theaggie.org