Community Connections Clients Stay Connected during Pandemic

4/12/2021

People with intellectual or developmental disabilities can feel isolated and lonely under normal circumstances, let alone by the isolation imposed by the pandemic. But some are thriving, thanks to the virtual day programs Community Connections created to keep their clients connected. Sponsored by Big-O Tires and FASTSIGNS

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Like many people who were forced into isolation during the pandemic Montezuma County resident, Alyssa Beck missed seeing her friends every week. But for the 24 year old Community Connections client the isolation had a bright side. She learned to make new friends online through the agency's virtual day program. You're watching the Local NEWS Network brought to you by Big O Tires and Fastsigns. I'm Wendy Graham Settle. When the pandemic hit Southwest Colorado a year ago Community Connections like many businesses agencies and educational institutions had to shut down it's group day programs. Forcing clients like Alyssa Beck into isolation. Beck looked forward to riding the bus on her own to the Pine Street Community Center in Cortez. Where she joined other clients for indoor and outdoor activities and socializing with someone other than her family.

It's very hard not to be around my friends

Knowing other clients were suffering from loneliness as well, Community Connections decided to follow the local school districts example and started a virtual day program.

So we launched our virtual day program initially in May and it was just a few classes at the time. And now we're up to 21, including cooking classes science classes, computer skills, budgeting, and even an advocacy class that's led by one of our individuals and rotating through.

Alyssa quickly became a facilitator, hosting virtual meetings on her own. Her mom, Lynne Beck says the program has opened new opportunities for growth and making new friends throughout the Community Connections service area in Southwest Colorado.

And she's really been very pleased with that aspect of the virtual day program, that she's gotten to know folks from over there that otherwise she wouldn't. And we were very concerned when they were shutting the program down, where things were going to go. But everybody has done a fantastic job putting together this virtual program and staying in touch with everyone and being able to see her friends, even if it's on computer has been fantastic. For her it's just been huge. It's just an explosion of wonderful things for her. And I couldn't be happier about it really and truly because I watched her grow with the computer skills, her interactions with other people, kind of being a front and center person with hosting and doing some classes herself and just what a great thing for her.

Russell says the in-person day program is expected to resume in mid April with limited attendance and social distancing. But the agency plans to continue the virtual program because of the positive impacts it's had for some clients. Community Connection serves 730 clients with developmental, intellectual and other disabilities in Southwest Colorado. Lynne Beck says the virtual day program has changed Alyssa's life.

Without the pandemic this wouldn't have happened, the virtual program. And so we might not have known what she could do on computer skills and things like that. And now we do, and I think it's going to open doors for her in the future for things that she's going to be able to do for herself.

To learn more about Community Connections Programs visit communityconnectionsco.org Thanks for watching this edition of the Local NEWS Network covering Durango, Montezuma County Pagosa Springs, Telluride, and Farmington, New Mexico. I'm Wendy Graham Settle.

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