For 11 years, Pathways has been a place for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) to belong and thrive together, in-person! But we’ve had to adapt our program to a virtual setting since March of this year to protect our more vulnerable students from the Coronavirus. Our students can learn and connect with others from the comfort and safety of their homes for now using Zoom technology.
Dana, a proud Pathways parent says of her daughter Paige, “She gets up, gets ready, and can jump into the Zoom calls all by herself. She has taken ownership and responsibility for getting herself to class. We are so proud of her decision to commit to the class, and she so looks forward to seeing everyone and interacting as much as she can.” Paige’s friends are delighted to see her each day!
Online classes are valuable because it gives our students structure and purpose each day, even when we are apart. Our virtual program is very similar to our in-person program in that students continue to learn about different topics such as art, math, culture, the bible, and more. And it’s not just about learning! Students are also moving, stretching, and having dance parties to maintain fitness. Our virtual classes offer students friendship, understanding, care, prayer, laughter, and a lot of room for growth.
We are excited about the future as our virtual program has opened new doors for students who may not be able to attend in-person. We currently have a virtual student who lives in South Korea, and he is grateful to have the opportunity to attend Pathways virtually even though it means he’s joining our classes very late in the evening in his time zone! It’s our hope that we can continue a virtual component of our program even long after the pandemic has ended.
Online classes present significant challenges to some of our Pathways students. For some students, it’s not possible to focus on a screen for a length of time because of their disability. That means that not all of our students are able to participate in our virtual classes. This is a heart-breaking reality, which is a very important reason why we are prayerfully preparing for a phased reinstatement of in-person classes. We don’t yet have a date set for our first phase of return, but we’ll continue to consider data trends, guidance from public health experts and other important factors to guide our decision. What a joyful day that will be when we can all be reunited!
Every student with I/DD deserves to feel as if they are part of something meaningful. And it’s even more important in times like these that people like our students aren’t forgotten. Learn how you can help support our students through this time of transition at pathwaysok.org/involved. And for more information about enrollment, visit pathwaysok.org/program.