Sasi has gone virtual!
Like so many other entities, we have been forced to go online to continue our services for individuals with developmental disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. The forced shutdown of our day habilitation facilities had left many of individuals without their familiar activities and the personal contact of friends. That has now changed.
Sasi is now offering semi-weekly day hab sessions for individuals who live at home with family or in sasi IRAs and have the technology to participate.
“The virtual services help keep our people actively engaged, supported, and connected with their friends,” said Amy Jaworski, director of program services. “Not knowing when we will be able to reopen our day habs, this is the next best option.”
In January, sasi charged John Peffer, a habilitation specialist from the West Seneca Day Hab, to launch the project. He assisted families with setting up the Zoom app and walking them through the process to help them get started.
“I put this together by focusing on making it a fun experience for the participants to connect with the services they would normally be provided,” Peffer said. “I thought it was more important to tie in a social aspect to it because some of the participants have been home for months and haven’t seen their friends. The goal is to get people interacting and having fun as if they are in the same room together.”
Right now, sasi has a few small groups that log in twice a week for a two-hour session to participate in fun activities, including morning social chat, digital trivia, exercise, music, and digital games, all while working on their goals. The curriculum captures socialization, movement, meditation, and laughter, which is exactly what they need to get through this difficult time and long winter.
“The individuals are excited to participate and look forward each week to seeing their favorite staff and friends,” Jaworski said. “We have even seen family members jump on to say hello.”
Moving forward, sasi has set up Virtual Community Prevocational Services out of both West Seneca and East Aurora and Yorkshire/Sardinia to continue our skill-buildings sessions for the community volunteerism it provides for its contracts. Sasi is branching out to small groups in Angola, Derby, Sardinia, and Yorkshire to give everyone the opportunity to participate. To date, sasi has provided services to up to 20 individuals from their homes. Peffer has also set up a training to assist team leaders and habilitation specialists to learn how to add the activities to the program, so they can ensure it is interactive, fun, and attractive to the audience.
Special thanks to the IT department for the setup, along with Peffer, Jennifer Ernst, Bridgette Zittel, Arian Anstett, Nadine Kingston, Michelle Fortunato, Louise Ando, and Melinda Mellon for working hard at kicking off this new program.