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Enhancing Lives Every Day: The Value of Activity-based Programs for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities

Day programs, such as those offered by Graceworks Enhanced Living, provide a place for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities to be active within their community and socialize with others, outside of a home environment. These coordinated programs give participants the independence and freedom to be themselves and pursue their interests, while at the same time providing necessary support and care that is catered to their unique needs.

To learn more about the value of activity and community-based programs for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, we sat down with Scott Osterfeld, Director of Day Program and Waiver Services at Graceworks Enhanced Living.

When did you first realize you wanted to help people with intellectual and developmental disabilities?

I think it was in junior high that I discovered I wanted to work in the disability field. I always thought it was unfair that the kids with intellectual disabilities were never with me in the same classroom, or in gym classes, lunch, or school dances. This was my first inclination to invest my life in this field and provide opportunities for individuals to participate in daily life within their communities.

I’ve been working in the disability field for 32 years now. I started working in a children’s home in 1986 and then worked in various community homes for people with intellectual disabilities. About a year and a half ago, I began working at Graceworks Enhanced Living as the Director of Day Program and Waiver Services. My job is to oversee our two day programs in Montgomery and Hamilton County, and mentor and supervise the managers of these programs.

What kinds of activities do individuals participate in during the Day Programs?

The entire focus and purpose of Day Programming offered by Graceworks Enhanced Living is to help adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities become more involved and integrated into their community. During the day, our staff will take individuals out to different places, so they can experience the activities that they enjoy doing.

Each participant in our day program has a service plan, which lists the activities that they love to do. For example, if an individual loves animals, we’ll make sure they get to interact with animals, whether it’s going to a local park or the aquarium or zoo. Other examples of outings include going to restaurants, seeing plays, getting manicures, or going to a cultural event within the community. We’ll also organize hands-on arts and crafts and exercise activities.

Why is Day Programming so important?

Day programs ultimately enhance the lives of individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities. Instead of being isolated from others, they are out and about, doing the things that everyone else is doing. Our goal is to create an environment where these individuals are fully integrated and active members of their community and enjoy a higher quality of life. Caregivers and family members benefit from the day programs as well, because it gives them time to themselves for errands, work, or self-care.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

What I like most is the team atmosphere I have with my co-workers. Being able to mentor our staff has allowed me to pass on my knowledge and help them grow. While I may not make a direct, day-to-day impact, I am able to effectively equip and empower the managers and staff, so they can go forth and make a difference in the lives of the individuals we serve.

I also strive to go out of my way to show our staff that I appreciate and value them. I have a “Manager Appreciation Menu,” where, once a month, managers can pick something off the list that I will do for them. For example, I will deliver takeout to their family, get them a gift card, take the company vehicle for an oil change, or bring over cookies and snacks. It’s important to do those little things that show the staff that I’m thinking about them, and I appreciate their hard work.

What has been a highlight of your experience working at Graceworks Enhanced Living?

For the day programs, a huge highlight is seeing people do the things that they enjoy. I remember a group of individuals went to the University of Dayton arena to watch the basketball teams practice before the NCAA tournament. Everyone had so much fun and got to be a part of the experience. It means a lot to watch people go out and do the things they enjoy, just like everybody else.

Another highlight was a block party hosted by some of the residents in one of the Graceworks Enhanced Living homes. Together with our staff, the residents opened their doors to their neighbors and invited them over for a block party with food and music. It provided a chance for the neighbors in the community to get to know the residents a little bit better, enjoy each other’s company and create a stronger connection throughout the neighborhood. It was really amazing to watch.

Learn more about Graceworks Enhanced Living

As our name implies, we enhance lives every day through our Graceworks Enhanced Living services. Everything we do is based on our principles of Gentle Teaching, servant leadership, and building community.

Our Montgomery and Hamilton County Day Programs are uniquely designed to cater to each of our client’s needs as a group while at the same time giving them independence and freedom to be themselves individually. Participants in our Montgomery and Hamilton County day programs enjoy a broad range of recreation and leisure activities. Activities are planned based on each individual’s needs. Some of our activities include hands-on arts and crafts, daily exercise, current events exploration and community outings. We also offer separate activity rooms for those who require a quieter environment to thrive. Day programming services are available Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., excluding holidays.

In addition to day programming, Graceworks Enhanced Living provides a variety of services to persons with developmental and intellectual disabilities, including residential services with 24/7 care and medical and non-medical transportation services.

To request further information about our day programs or supportive residential services, please contact us. We would be delighted to speak with you!

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