Sunday, June 2, 2013

Hopewell Industries Trips

Throughout each year, the staff and clients at the Hopewell Industries go on several outings and vacations. These outtings include a day off work to go out to eat, to get coffee, go to pottery houses to make pottery, to the movies, or to the mall. The clients sign up ahead of time to take the day off of work, and they are responsible for the small fees to attend the events. The vacations on the other hand are once a year to places out of state. There are a limited number of clients that are allowed to go, and staff assist them on their trip, in which they take a tour bus for transportation.
Most of the clients enjoy the frequent day-long outings, as it is an opportunity for them to get out of work and into the community with their staff and friends. The most popular outings are the restaurant, shopping, movie and Cedar Point trips. The Cedar Point trip occurs each year in May sometime, weather permitting. This past month they were unable to go due to thunderstorms. Therefore, the event got rescheduled for sometime in June or July.
Some of the past vacation spot destinations include Nashville, TN and Washington, D.C. This year, the group is going to Myrtle Beach. They will be leaving June 6th and will be gone about six days. The clients are all looking forward to it. They will be split up by gender, in groups of four and assigned to a staff member while down there. This group will room together in the hotel. They will spend their days shopping, enjoying the beach, enjoying each other's company and going to attractions down there. The main attraction that they are planning on going to this year is the Pirates Voyage. They will enjoy a dinner and show there. I have been there and I know that the clients will just love the experience!
They are responsible of paying a lump sum ahead of time, that covers transportation costs, room costs, Pirates Voyage ticket, and a couple of meals. The clients will be responsible for taking spending money and a little food money to eat on. All of the clients that I have talked to are already packed up and ready to leave Thursday! They look forward to these vacations all year round, as some don't get vacations with their families each year.

The Annual Showcase Talent Show

Each year the Hopewell Industries hosts a Talent Show for the clients to exhibit their talents. They refer to the event as "The Showcase." Any individual working at the Industries is eligible to participate. The acts range from anything from singing or dancing, to reading poems and history stories. The annual event usually takes place every March.
This past year, the judges for the Showcase were the Occupational Therapy Assistant students from Zane State College, and a Hopewell staff member. The judging panel consisted of eight judges. They determined the five awards to be handed out at the end of the event. These awards included: The Voice, America's Got Talent, Shon Connors Award, American Idol, and the People's Choice.
The clients all sign up awhile in advance in order to give them plenty of time to practice and prepare for the big day. They put a lot of time practicing their acts at the home on their own time, as well as rehearsals at the Industries, closer to the event date. During the show, staff are on hand to keep the acts in line and keep the show rolling. The event is held at the Industries and is open to the public.
A well-known client to the Industries that passed away during a scheduled surgery loved to sing and was a huge Rascal Flatts and Journey fan. They created an award this year in his remembrance. They based the recipient of this award off of who Shon would have picked to win it. This year a client just so happened to sing a Rascal Flatts song and he put so much effort into the act. The judges knew that was who Shon would have wanted to win it.
The other awards are based off of who the judges feel puts the most effort into their song. This year The Voice award went to a young lady that sang "You're Beautiful." She sang the song all on her own with just the music, no lyrics. It was obvious just how much time and practice she put into her act.
The American Idol award went to a young man that impersonated Elvis. He enjoys dressing up like him and lip singing and dancing to his songs on stage. The best part is that he looks just like Elvis!
The America's Got Talent award went to a young man that created his own rap. He wrote it and rapped it all on his own. It was a real good one to! The whole crowd loved him!
The last award is the People's Choice Award, which went to one of Hopewell's most-known clients. He is the "class clown" of Hopewell Industries. He is always saying and doing things to make people laugh. For his act, he went on stage with a guitar and a hat on sideways to sing a rock song. The crowd fell in live with the act!
Next year's event will take place sometime in March.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

What Hopewell Offers

Hopewell offers schooling to the school age and also an adult work program (Hopewell Industries) for those individuals that are graduated from high school. The school offers pre-school through twelth grade, and the work program offers work opportunities to individuals of any age after graduation. There are employees there clear up into their eighties.
The school portion of Hopewell is ran similar to a regular school system, just serving those with disabilities. They participate in classes like gym and art, just like your typical children and adolescents do.
The adult work program offers services that allow individuals to work for a little pay. They even help the higher-functioning individuals find work out in the real world field. For example, some of the clients work in area nursing homes in housekeeping and the kitchen washing dishes. When they work out of the Industries, they have the opportunity to make a lot more money. The clients enjoy working outside of the Industries as well, as it provides the opportunity for them to feel more freedom with a normal job, to make more money and make new friends.
Some advantages of the Hopewell school, is that they offer speech therapy during class time, as well physical and occupational therapy. The students also receive one-on-one help with their everyday life skills. Adaptive equipment is available for those students needing it, during their lunch time. Staff is available on hand, to help in feeding. For those individuals that can't talk, computers are available in order to communicate with the staff and other peers. They also use head pointers to communicate to one another. The teaching curriculum is more individualized per student, including their developmental skills per student. Individuals would not be able to receive theses types of services from an average public school.
The school offers transportation, via a bus, just as a public school does. When the weather is bad, the school cancels too. As for the Industries, they offer a shuttle bus to pick clients up to take them to and from work. While at work, they get an hour lunch break where they can walk to get food, pack their own lunch or buy a lunch at the Industries. When the weather is bad, they too cancel work. While the school is only in session for four quarters, the Industries is open year round, excluding their Winter break around Christmas time. The Industries is also off for holidays.

Freedom Festival

Every year in July, Hopewell hosts an annual event that they refer to as the "Freedom Festival." And it lives up to its name. The purpose of this event is to raise awareness of disabilities of any sort. The clients within Hopewell team up with staff members to make the event possible.
Generally the event takes place in the middle of July, and is located in the parking lot of the Hopewell Industries in Coshocton County. In the parking lot, they have a huge tent set up to create shade for everyone, a dunk tank, a stage in the front of the event, a grill with food, and inflatable obstacle courses to play on. The event is open to the public and free food is available during lunch time. Free T-shirts are also handed out, while supplies last. The event normally kicks off around 9 a.m. and ends by about 2 p.m.
Throughout the day, speeches from the clients are given, recognition of clients' achievements throughout the year, music is played, games are played, and the dunk tank is being used. Last year they even gave pony rides for free the whole day! Popcorn is handed out for free throughout the day as well.
While all of the free handouts and good company with friends are enjoyable, the purpose of the day is even better. Increasing awareness of disabilities is the reason for the day and event! It is always a joy to listen to clients and staff read their prepared speeches to do just that.
Clients from all other surrounding counties are also invited to the event to help spread the awareness! Just when you think that you have met the most precious individuals ever, the new people you meet from other counties is always a treat! Getting the opportunity to sit down and enjoy a conversation with your new friends is always a blessing.
One of the best parts of the day is seeing the smiles on the faces of the individuals that work so hard to make the event a success. The clients work so hard each year making their speeches, designing plans for the event, etc. To see a good turn out for their sake is awesome! This year, the event is set for July 19th and I hear everything is all set in stone and ready to go! Every client that I have talked to is so ready for the event, for they enjoy it every year!

Hopewell Indians Softball

This year, the 2013 Hopewell Indians softball will be coached by the same coaching staff that coached the basketball team. Head coach will be Devin, while his assistants will remain the same from basketball as well. Everyone enjoyed the season so much during basketball, that we wanted to repeat it during softball season.
The season just kicked off last Wednesday when their first practice was held. They will practice once a week, until games begin sometime in July. The dates of those games have not yet been determined. This year the team consists of about twenty players. The fun thing about Special Olympic softball is that it is not only co-ed, but the coaches play in the games as well.
The games are slow pitch, with six innings per game. The same rules apply to this league as any other slow-pitch softball games: three strikes or four balls maximum per at bat, three outs per inning, ten players in the field, force outs, etc.
The players on Hopewell range from experienced players, to first-timers. The team wears actual softball pants, jerseys, socks, hats and cleats, just as any high school player would. Majority of the games that they play are not weekday games, but weekend double header games instead.
The strategies for position and batting orders that any other traditional baseball or softball coach uses, is used in Special Olympics softball. For example, your fastest runner leading off, with good hitters following, and your power hitters in the third through fifth patting positions, and everyone else following them. Ten players play the field at once, but there can be up to twelve people that bat. You may have one girl and one guy extra hitter for the team.
Hopewell's softball team is not as publicly known about as the basketball team. This is Devin's first year of coaching the team and he is hoping to change that. We're going to try and spread the word about the team so more people can come watch and our following crowd to away games can grow some hopefully. Those players try so hard and want to show to the whole world what they are capable of doing. We want more people to be at the games to support them, just like in basketball. Even to get the newspaper to be there taking pictures would make the players' seasons! Our goal this season is to get the word out about the team, and to improve on the skill levels of the players, so they can produce a winning season and boost their confidence levels!

Hopewell Indians Bowling

The Hopewell Indians bowling takes place on Sunday evenings at the local bowling alley. The season runs throughout most of the year, with only taking a few weeks break off at the end of their season. The team competes in tournaments a few times throughout their season. The compete as individuals at the tournaments, with ratings being won depending on how they perform at the tournaments. They medals and rankings they can receive are Gold, Silver and Bronze, with some tournaments using placings instead.
The bowlers bowl three games every Sunday, with three bowlers per lane. Bowling is co-ed and there is really no age limit to it, just as in basketball, cheerleading and softball. Individuals that bowl range from under ten years old, to over fifty years old. Individuals include those that can walk to bowl, and those that are in wheelchairs. For those that are in wheelchairs, the bowling alley provides them with a ramp for the ball that they can use to get the ball down the lane. It's really something to watch these individuals bowl and watch their faces just light up!
Most of the individuals that participate in bowling, participate in basketball, cheerleading or softabll as well. Once they try one sport, they try them all and become addicted. All of the athletes are close friends and want to stick together in every sport.
The fun thing about the bowling league, and other Special Olympic sports as well, is that other people besides the players can be involved. For instance, staff members can bowl with the players when they take them to their practices on Sundays. The staff are offered the same bowling alley rate per game as the players are. This challenges the athletes to try harder and to create chances for them to compete against others besides their teammates.
The bowling team is coached by an athlete's mom and she is in charge of the athletes during practices and the tournaments. She records their bowling scores each week, as well as keep them in line during practices. When they go away to weekend tournaments, it is her and her husband that stay with the athletes while they bowl and in a hotel room, wherever the tournament is being held.
Bowling works out throughout the year, because it never interferes with any other sport that is going on at the same time. Sunday evening practices generally work with everyone, enabling them to play in basketball or softball, as well as bowling at the same time. This creates well-rounded athletes!

Hopewell Indians Basketball

The 2012-2013 Hopewell Indians Basketball team consisted of forty-six players! From the previous season, the team grew by almost twenty players! The team was coached by Devin Rivera, with the help of his eight assistant coaches, with myself being included. This year, the Indians were able to produce a 15 and 1 season. Their only loss was in the second round of tournaments in Columbus, the first weekend of March.
The team began the season with practices three times a week, in early November. By mid-December, they started games. Generally they played one to two games per week. The season lasted from December to the last week of February, and tournaments began the very first weekend of March.
The Indians played home and away games. The home games took place at Kids America in Coshocton, as the Hopewell school gym was too small for the crowds that now follow the team. They played away games at surrounding county facilities. Some adventures to other counties were only a half hour bus ride, while others were a two hour bus ride. After away games, it is tradition to stop at a fast food restaurant on the way home, before returning home.
Hopewell won all of their regular season games and the first round of tournaments. They fell short in their second round of the Division II tournaments in Columbus. The team has tremendously improved over the past few years, and next year appears to be a promising year for tournaments.
The team ranges from players that just have an IEP, to players that have physical disabilities. All of the players get the chance to play in the games. Some time may be limited, due to the large number of players. Over forty players is sometimes impossible to rotate into a thirty-two minute basketball game. Although, ninety-nine percent of the time, Devin is able to get every player in some how!
During practices and games, everything is done just like a high school team would do. They run at practices, and the games are structured the same as high school games.
The best part of watching a basketball game, is that all of the players give one-hundred ten percent, they are always smiling and enjoying themselves, and they do not care if they win or lose. They are just there to have fun. I would watch a Hopewell game over a high school game any day!

How my job involves the DD clients

I work at a non-profit home health organization in Coshocton County, known as Health Services of Coshocton County. I have my STNA and work with the Home Health, Extra Care, Passport and Waiver programs. The Waiver program is the one involving the clients. There are different levels of services to offer to the patients, in which is funded through the County Board. Each level allows so many levels of hours of services per week and the different level of objectives that we work with the clients on.
Each client has their own Individualized Service Plan(ISP). This plan tells us staff what we need to work with the client on. These skills can be anything ranging from how to cook meals, to traffic safety, to better management of money. We work with these clients in their home or in the community.
We have company vehicles in which we can transport the clients into the community to complete errands, shopping, activities, or even doctor appointments. Some clients even like us to go out to eat with them. Most clients like us to do activities with them including watching movies at the movie theatre, going walking with them, playing backyard basketball or softball with them, or just going shopping with them. The purpose of our services to the client is to reach certain skill level goals with them and to provide a source of freedom out in the community.
Under the Waiver program, we are also able to transport them with our company vehicle to the Hopewell Indians athletic practices and games. Those players on the basketball, softball, and bowling teams that are part of Health Services generally rely on us to take them to and from practices and games. This also gives the parents some freedom and stress relief of transportation purposes.
Depending on the level of services needed, each day a staff member may be in with the client for one hour, or sometimes up to about eight hours a day. It makes it nice for the younger clients' parents that work and need someone to stay with their children during the day while they are at work, Our services allow us to do this, as long as they have funding from the Board.
All of the clients that us staff have on a regular basis are like family to us. When we are in with them on a regular schedule, you can't help but become attached although they say you shouldn't. The clients enjoy their freedom out into the community that they receive from our services and are always looking forward to and making plans for our next visit in with them!

Friday, May 31, 2013

How I got involved with the individuals

In May 2011, I had the honor of chaperoning Coshocton County's Board of DD's annual prom. My 4-H group was asked by the planner of the prom to help out with the event. When my Advisor asked me, I knew I would really enjoy it, so I volunteered a Friday evening. I arrived to the dance location in plenty of time before the dance to help set up the place in their Hawaiin theme. My duty once the clients began coming was to stand at the door to greet them and give them each a Hawaiin lay. Once everyone had arrived and the lays were all handed out, the dancing fun began. I got the pleasure to dance the night away with some pretty awesome people that completely changed my life forever!
You could be the worst dancer in the world and still be a superstar dancer in those individuals' eyes. They don't care how good of a dancer they or you are, as long as everyone is having fun. The smiles never left the clients' faces the whole night.
A little after 8p.m. when the dance was over, my 4-H club began to pick up and clean all the decorations up. A fellow in a green Health Services of Coshocton shirt that was with a client the whole evening came up to me and asked me if I could talk to his client for him. He said that his client had been watching me all night and just wanted to say hey to me. I agreed, but little did I know that the client wasn't the one that wanted to talk to me to get my name and say was the man with the client!
Later that week I got a text from him. Come to find out, his name was Devin Rivera and he wanted to know if he could take me on a date! He said he couldn't quit watching me at the dance, but thought I was older than I was and was too scared to come and ask me for my information.
That client that he took to the dance that night I had the opportunity to work with one-on-one with for nine short months after Devin got me a job where he worked. That client passed away in April of 2012, but he always told me that "If it weren't for Devin, you would be mine!" He always told me how lucky Devin was to have me as his girlfriend and that he would kick his butt if he ever did anything to hurt me. He had my back no matter what! He was such a special man and will forever be missed.
To this day, Devin and I are still together and we both still work at Health Services of Coshocton, where we provide one-on-one time with the clients. We also coach the Hopewell Indians Basketball team and the Hopewell Indians Softball team. Our life revolves around those clients! They can brighten anyone's day!

A Little About the Hopewell Indians

   The Hopewell Indians of Coshocton County is the Coshocton County Developmental Board of Disabilites. This is a Special Olympics program for the disabled of our county to get the opportunity to participate in sports such as Basketball, Cheerleading, Softball, and Bowling. The county board also hosts an annual Special Olympics Track and Field Day for the individuals to take part in as well. The sports programs are open to any individual of any age, ranging from having an IEP in school or to being physically disabled. No one is discreminated against and no one is turned away from participating in these programs. The sports teams of Coshocton travel to surrounding counties, where they play other developmentally disabled teams. For instance, the Hopewell Indians play counties including, but not limited to: Guernsey, Muskingum, Bellmont, Tuscarawas and Delaware.
   Each sports team goes through practices and a schedule of games, just as a High School sports team would. The bowling team here in Coshocton normally meets every Sunday to practice bowl three games, and they compete in tournaments usually three times throughout their season. The Basketball team practices two times a week for the season, which generally lasts from November to February, with tournaments in March. During the regular game season, they play on average of two games per week. The tournaments are set up just like High School, with Hopewell being in Division II. The tournaments are single elimination and are held in places like Columbus, depending on the team's division. This past March, the Hopewell Indians played their tournament games in Columbus against other Division II teams.
   My first experience of getting to go and watch a Hopewell event, is when I went to watch the basketball team, which is pictured above. I went to a game during the 2011-2012 season, after I began dating their head coach. That year the team consisted of about twenty players and this past year they had about 40 players. I'm not going to lie, at first I thought the games would be slow paced and boring. But to my surprise, they were the most entertaining sports games I have ever been to. Those kids amazed me that night. I would much rather go watch a Special Olympics sports game than a regular High School athletic event. Those players are always smiling and laughing, they don't care if they are winning or losing, and they do not care if they make a basket or miss it. They just thrive on the thrill of being out in the public eye and having people watch and cheer them on. If you ever get a chance to go watch an athletic event of the developmentally disabled, I totally recommend that you do it! I can promise you that it will be worth your while!