ANDERSON COUNTY, SC (WSPA)–Anderson County adults with intellectual and development disabilities, are getting more therapeutic assistance, as one group faced some challenges delivering service amid the pandemic.
The Rainbow Gang, a program within Anderson County’s Special Populations Recreation department, has expanded virtually.
A blessing in the middle of a worldwide storm, came for participants in the day program.
“And kind of what happened for us whenever the pandemic hit is, in March we went fully virtually,” said Darby Hinson, Program Coordinator, Anderson County Special Population Recreation, “The Rainbow Gang”, Day Program.
The doors to “The Rainbow Gang” program, were closed in person for a little while. They were operating virtually, but they were still limited with the kinds of therapeutic services participants received.
“Then we actually had a parent who contacted us and said that her participants just social and emotional health was really declining because of for the population that we serve, routines are really important a big thing. And since the pandemic interrupted everybody’s routine, that was really hard on a lot of our participants,” Hinson said.
“We just don’t have the staffing to run a complete virtual program, and so we are working towards trying to put together a virtual program that will allow us to possibly expand, The Rainbow Gang, to participants who actually cannot come in person,” said Kathy Schofield, Program Manager, Anderson County Special Populations Recreation, The Rainbow Gang.
With the help from interns within Clemson University’s Recreational Therapy Program, they now have a good start on this goal.
“We have students that again, need to have field experience and during this time, we were able to act almost as extra manpower to be able to provide this virtual platform and still serve participants that their self alone, might not have been able to do or definitely not do,” said Kaitlin Mueller, PH.D student at Clemson University.
Clemson students helped create 30 plus therapeutic programs in the fall. The new programs consist of dancing, music expression, communication, and other activities, that will help each person with their individual growth.
“It’s like a big domino effect of how else can we reach more of our population, and you know, what kinds of services can we give,” Schofield said.
Right now, those clients are participating in two virtual activities a week, but they’re working towards expanding the virtual program to three online interventions every single day.
“It’s important that the folks with intellectual disabilities are at home that don’t feel comfortable coming yet, we still want them to be reached and to have their needs be meant, and thankfully through using some of our students, we’re able to do that. And I think really both parties win because of that,” Mueller said.
“We want to provide that programming for them, and we want to continue to adapt and grow our program and so we’re continuingly meeting the needs of our community,” Hinson said.
“Would love to have other programming going on, where we can bring in more volunteers and really expose our population to the community,” Schofield said.
Hinson said they want to keep participants involved with the community, as much as possible. They are looking to partner with other organizations, to help with the program. If you would like to get involved, call (864) 260-4142.
You can also email Schofield at firstname.lastname@example.org.