APSI Client Spotlight:

Meet Ron, Learn about Day Programs, and Look at Changes Moving Forward

One of APSI’s clients, Ron, recently added a new accessory to his farmer’s market outfit: a face mask. Although the mask may not be the most comfortable part of Ron’s outfit, he wears it because it means he can participate in his day program activities again.

Ron spends his days at Columbus Center for Human Services (CCHS), a nonprofit that provides various day-program activities that help integrate individuals with developmental disabilities into the community. Ron participates in the nature activity center at CCHS, helping with the greenhouse, garden, and farmer’s market. Helping at the market, however, is not something everyone gets to do. Ron shares his knowledge, kindness, and compassion with others at the farmer’s market, which is why this special position was offered to him.

Ron’s home has not always been the garden, greenhouse, and farmer’s market. Ron used to work in the kitchen at CCHS, but he always knew he belonged somewhere else. As soon as he switched over, everyone could see Ron belonged there. “I can whole-heartedly say from the moment Ron began working in the greenhouse, we have seen a huge difference,” Ron’s Protective Service Representative (PSR), Keshia Williams, points out. “He has just been a completely different person … It has just been wonderful.”

Day programs do so much more than just provide activities for our clients. They impact our clients’ relationships, actions, moods, and so much more. For example, once Ron started in the garden, he cut back from having meetings with his PSR each month to having one every three months to only having a meeting if needed. Finding the right day program for Ron brought out a new side of him everyone could see, which emphasizes the importance of these activities.

Most day programs, however, temporarily closed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Knowing how impactful these programs are, the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities created a work group to help rethink and reboot them as safely and as soon as possible. APSI’s Executive Director, Kristen Henry, worked with this group to advocate for safe changes that will allow clients to benefit from these programs again.

Determining the when, what, and who of restarting these activities is not a simple task. The work group proposed that each case needs to be decided on an individual basis, looking into and weighing out all the benefits and risks for each person. For a brief example, Ron benefits immensely from his day program, has limited individualized risk factors, works outside, and follows the new changes implemented, so, for him, returning to the garden is reasonable.

Ron is one of only about 6,000 people participating in day programs again, which is less than 20 percent of full capacity. One reason Ron can work again is because of his new accessory, the face mask. Along with the face mask requirement, day programs are operating with a limited number of clients, which allows appropriate social distancing. Many programs are also moving activities outdoors whenever possible. These changes are only few of the many being made to protect the individuals, while also getting them back into their day program routines.

Day programs are slowly and safely working with clients, like Ron, again because of the work group’s advocacy, and the well-thought-out decisions. Ron could not be happier being back in his element, tending, growing, and selling the plants. He is willing to follow each of the changes, even if it calls for a new accessory, as long as he can be in the garden again.