Disabled students are able to have a sense of belonging through the virtual world.
During times like this, it’s important to be a part of a community– from a distance of course.
There are some programs, like the Virginia Beach Recreation Centers, that can be life-altering for families. Sara Wiltshire, a local mother praises what the program did for her and her 19-year-old daughter with cerebral palsy.
Olivia Wiltshire was participating in the Recreation Centers’ Therapy Recreation programs already. When the pandemic hit, the program simply shifted from in-person to online. While this may seem jolting, it does still offer a sense of community.
Casey King, a certified therapy and recreation specialist with Virginia Beach Recreation Centers wanted to make the virtual aspect fun. King said:
“We need[ed] to find a way to get our participants engaged and to stay connected with them so they don’t feel like they get lost in the mix of all of this.”
King elaborates and said that the activities included: arts and crafts, leisure ed, fitness, science, and nature. It was described as a camp-like experience for the kids. Engagement is super important when keeping kids lively. King said that they currently have 11 programs online. Since the pandemic is ongoing, the programs will still remain virtual.
Olivia’s mom, Sara spoke on the impact it had on her and her daughter:
This has been her main social network through[out] the whole summer, and we anticipate through the fall. It’s just going to continue to grow and for us, it’s just critical because her mental health is super critical. Therapeutic rec is definitely a unique family in itself.”
A plus is, you don’t have to be a member to be a part of these free or low cost programs.