Adult Living Skills Program Gets Back to Business
An Adult Living Skills participant smells a flower on a field trip to Garfield Park Conservatory.
“Good morning, Lighthouse. The ‘ALS Café’ will be open today selling soda, chips and snacks from 11 to 1.”
It’s been roughly three years since those words have echoed through the halls of The Lighthouse, but in recent weeks, they’ve begun to sound again. One of the last programs to come back after the pandemic, The Lighthouse’s Adult Living Skills (ALS) Program – the only day program in Illinois that serves individuals who are blind or visually impaired who also have a developmental or intellectual disability – is up and running, full-swing.
“We are 100% up-and-running,” says Marykay Culleton, Director of the Adult Living Skills and Adult Day Programs. “We’re heading on outings. We’re running the café, and soon, we’ll begin working in the garden.”
Yes, this spring, the ALS Program, along with students in our Children’s Development Center and some of our Veterans, will plant the first seeds in our community garden on the southwest side of our building. The garden, created in partnership with Urban Transformation Network, will give participants a chance to experience the benefits of working with their hands in the soil, nurturing plants to grow and learn about healthy eating and nutrition.
To prepare, some of the students have been going on outings to Urban Transformation Network’s indoor garden, where they have been helping take care of basil and other hydroponic plants, getting them ready for sale at local farmer’s markets.
Program participants are also enhancing their classroom learning. Marykay has been teaching the students sign language. “They’ve been really great at learning it,” Marykay says. “They’ve all remembered everything, even after a few weeks. It’s really fun.”
The students have also started learning Braille, after receiving a donation of blocks designed to teach the basics. The class has given one of the participants, who is already fluent in the tactile language, the opportunity to help teach the others, giving her a boost of confidence and a chance at leadership, Marykay says.
And, with the program classroom located right at The Lighthouse’s temporary entrance on Wolcott, the students are having more opportunities to meet other Lighthouse clients and visitors, giving them a chance to work on their social skills.
“It’s been great for everyone to see the incredible work we’re doing,” says Marykay.