Apr 20, 2023
Community outings becoming more frequent and varied as COVID restrictions lifted
When Patrice Billups told participants in St. Coletta’s Community Day Services program they were planning a trip to the bowling alley, they could hardly contain their excitement.
One participant started planning his wardrobe for the day. Another asked how much money he should take. A third challenged Billups to a game and pledged to win.
“Everybody was excited and ready to go that day,” said Billups, a behavior specialist at St. Coletta’s of Illinois.
Based in Tinley Park, St. Coletta’s of Illinois is a non-profit social service agency that provides educational, residential and vocational training services to children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities so they can achieve their greatest potential.
Community outings, such as trips to the bowling alley, movie theater and local pizza parlor, are an important part of enhancing their adaptive living skills, economic self-sufficiency and overall level of independence and integration into the community.
“Excursions like this allow for the consumers to exercise choice in their lives and individual schedules,” said Jeremy Sheely, director of St. Coletta’s Community Day Services program. “It’s an opportunity to share like interests and experiences while integrating into the community.”
“Integrating them into the community helps with their social skills in a different environment,” added Psychology Director Lauren Mock.
St. Coletta’s strives to send three small groups into the community each day, giving everyone a chance to interact with others several times a month.
During the pandemic, trips were reduced in frequency and restricted to outdoor activities, such as trips to the forest preserve, picnics in the park or visits to an area pumpkin farms.
Now, with the lifting of COVID restrictions and the end of the federal government’s emergency declarations on May 11, St. Coletta’s is restoring its community outing schedule and expanding its program and services.
“We’re back up and running,” said Heather Benedick, St. Coletta’s Chief Operating Officer. “The pandemic stymied our operations for a while, but now we’re eager to welcome new faces and further our mission to serve children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.”