Twenty Rochester area seniors with developmental and intellectual disabilities are taking part in a new program that helps them connect with their same-aged peers in the community.
"They're checking out some of our different parks that they haven't been to before; I've got a group going bowling today, just a lot of fun stuff so people can really enjoy their retirement and also meet new people," said Dillon Hall, who runs the Silver Linings program at the Arc of Monroe County. The program is based on surveys of clients who said they want to participate in meaningful community activities.
This morning, Robert Kleinhans went to an integrated exercise class for people with and without disabilities at the Maplewood YMCA. Before the class, he sat in the café where people were playing cards and chatting.
"We met some people and now we're friends with them,” he said. “They're not from the Arc, but they loved being with us."
Many seniors who are served by the Arc continue to work to stay active, and until now, there hasn't been a recreational alternative for them in the community.
Kleinhans said, "I can sit with my group all day and I know them, but if I sit with another person, I can say, 'hey, what's your name? How are you doing today?' "
Anja Jab-Devins, the YMCA’s health and wellness coordinator, was leading today’s exercise class. She said she tries to make sure that everyone feels a part of the group.
"Just because somebody has a disability, it does not hinder anyone in any form that you can be physically active," she said.
According to the U.S. Census, four million Americans have an intellectual and/or developmental disability. 850,600 of them are estimated to be 60 or older.
This story is reported from WXXI's Inclusion Desk.