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DASCH’s Recreation Program celebrates two years!

DASCH’s Recreation Program celebrates two years!

Two years ago, the world was trying to figure out how to navigate life in a pandemic – and DASCH was no exception. For the safety of the people we support and our staff, we temporarily closed our day programs, vocational training, and cancelled events– so many activities that the people we support accessed, required, and looked forward to everyday.

One of our utmost priorities was ensuring that everyone continued to have opportunities that kept them mentally, physically and emotionally engaged and still part of the community as much as possible under the circumstances.

Creating a Recreation Program at DASCH was an idea born pre-pandemic but it became a lifeline once public health measures were in place and everyone was isolated from their friends and family.

In the summer of 2020, the Recreation Program organized outdoor activities that accommodated social distancing with city-wide scavenger hunts, sports days, and picnics in the park.

Man with Down syndrome in the park with program counsellors for picnic
*Photo taken summer 2021

A Vital Program

Formal recreational programming like DASCH’s Recreation Program has proven benefits of enhancing a person’s overall well-being, including physical health, social life, mental health, and self-esteem!

Shelby, one of the Recreation Program’s Counsellors, says one of her favourite parts of the job is seeing the joy the program’s activities bring to the people we support.

Our Recreation Counsellors also encourage participants to try out different activities by providing support and guidance throughout. Participants can grow their self-confidence and discover new talents and strengths that may otherwise appear hidden. With greater confidence, participants are more willing to engage openly and become more involved in activities.

Joe and Shelby smile at the camera in their Halloween costumes
*Photo taken October 2021

“My favourite part about this position is seeing the relationships that the people DASCH supports are building through our events, we have built a strong community!” Joe, a Recreation Program Counsellor, says.

Highlights from the past two years include various holiday activities, bingo and movies nights, picnics in the park, a beading activity for National Day of Truth and Reconciliation, and a recent addition: snowshoeing!

Jenny Snowshoes
Karen holds a bag to be delivered to Main Street Project
Jeff makes bird seed ornaments

We asked a few regular Recreation Program participants how they felt about the program:

What’s your favourite part about going to the Recreation Program?

Getting to see my friends and making new ones – Jeff

I love being able to socializes with Joe, Shelby, and my friends from other homes – Corey

What’s your favourite activity to do with the Recreation Program?

Bingo, nature walks, and beading! – Corey

Crafts! – Jeff

Bocce ball, exercising at the park, and bingo. – Justin

Justin plays bingo

How does the Recreation Program make you feel?

Wonderful and amazing. I like how they are respectful when it comes to my personal needs. – Jeff

I feel good when I get to see my favorite Rec team and friends, enjoy the activities, and chat with everyone there. – Corey

Happy. – Justin

Taking the Recreation Program to the next level

The Recreation Team has grown to welcome a new Counsellor, Riley. Along with supporting summer activities with Joe and Shelby, Riley’s new role will focus on getting the people DASCH supports involved in the new garden plots the team secured this year. He’ll also be working on a garden-to-table program for the DASCH community.

Person in community garden

The garden plots are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what the team has planned for this summer! We are also working on organizing a carnival, horseback riding, floats down the Pinawa canal, berry picking, and nature walks in and outside of the city. These events will accompany some regular summer favourites likes their annual picnic (a big hit!), yoga in the park, bocce ball, and more.

Denis and Billy smile at the camera while sitting at a picnic table

“It’s been such a pleasure to work with the Recreation Counsellors to help them grow the program over the last few years,” Kim, Manager of Quality Care and Vocational Development, says. “They’re always so attentive to the program participants and make sure to include and adapt activities so everyone can be involved.”

The Recreation Program started with a grant in spring 2020 and continues to be funded by generous donors. Without supporters there would be no Recreation Program. If you would like to support the Recreation Program, consider donating today!

We look forward to keeping you updated with all the fun summer activities in the works!