At CRN, our goal is to enhance the quality of life for our Individuals, at home and in the community. Hosting dances or parties are great opportunities for Individuals to feel included and engaged while increasing their self-esteem, confidence, and social skills.
After events were reduced due to COVID, Michelle, our Director of Life Skills Programs, was recently able to put on two great events for our Port Charlotte and Fort Myers locations. Read on to learn how Michelle executed these events and the impacts of events on our Individuals and the community.
Q: Did postponing events have an effect on the Individuals?
Michelle: “Yes, it was a lost opportunity for social time. They thrive off social skills and the opportunity to apply the skills we teach. Some Individuals have friends that don’t attend our program or live in a different group home. Without these events, it didn’t afford them the opportunity to get together.”
Q: How does it feel to throw a party Post COVID?
Michelle: “It’s a great feeling! The last party we were planning was March of 2020. We had all the décor and all the food ordered and I can just remember having to make that tough, but necessary call to cancel the event to keep everyone safe. Despite being 2 years out, I was a little nervous about attendance for these, but was super surprised and happy with the turnout and success.”
Q: What is your approach when planning these events?
Michelle: “First, I tackle logistics. I always make sure there are no other competing events, like Special Olympic Events, so our Individuals can all participate and attend. I like to keep the events to two hours to keep it fun and engaging with enough time to eat and dance.
When it comes to picking the themes and decorations, we let the Individuals lead the whole way. They pick themes and vote for their favorites; we discuss where to put decorations; and we discuss budgeting. The party planning process is a great way to implement those skills they are learning a daily basis.”
Q: What were reactions from families, Individuals and the disability community?
Michelle: “Very positive! Everyone is already asking when the next one is! We saw a lot of involvement from other programs and group homes. They made a huge effort to get Individuals there, even transporting for each other. And this was also great for our staff here at CRN. Bringing everyone together is what CRN is known for and we’re happy to be back to it!”