By Catherine Metz, Life Skills Educator

 

With the new year, we are celebrating the one-year anniversary of the inception of Rainbow Academy, Rainbow Acres’ new system for providing well-rounded educational experiences for the Ranchers – adults with developmental disabilities.

A nurturing and safe environment to curiously learn and explore as adults with developmental disabilities

In January of 2019, the newly remodeled Worden Tabor Center (WTC) opened its doors and quickly became the epicenter of Rancher activities and classes. The WTC provides a nurturing and safe environment to curiously explore individual interests, enhance cognitive abilities, discover helpful information about health and well-being, learn about community careers, and activate important understanding related to global awareness of our environment and its sustainability.

A variety of experienced and knowledgeable instructors provide classes, coursework, group discussions, and individualized instruction throughout the day. Ranchers can choose and participate in a variety of daily sessions. A brief description of our current curriculum follows. 

 

Book Club offers the opportunity to discover new and exciting novels, short stories, famous authors and classic literary favorites. Group discussions, activities, and related projects offer insight and understanding to themes, characterization and point of view. Ranch-wide celebrations promote understanding and appreciation of literature.  

Community Careers is a course designed to provide hands-on work experience and career training for a variety of employable positions within the community. Ranchers learn how to maintain the WTC physical building and prepare it for class each day. Educational opportunities include: choosing topics for class discussions, preparing bulletin boards, and creating interactive games and activities to use during class. Some Ranchers choose to aid and assist fellow Ranchers during class as well. Eventually, these skills and responsibilities will foster confidence and transfer to work or volunteer opportunities off-campus.

Community Events allows Ranchers to explore activities available within our local community, learn more about the community we live in, and participate in local events as we enjoy and assimilate with our neighbors. Many groups and individuals provide services directly to our Ranchers. Another goal is for the Ranchers to give back to the community and provide service by reaching out and sharing their unique gifts with those in need. 

Learning Coping Skills, Life Skills, Reading and Writing for Success

Coping Skills is a session where Ranchers learn how to live and cope with feelings of anxiety, fear, stress, sadness and other emotions that can impact their daily lives and are common for adults with developmental disabilities. An understanding of these emotions is provided through educational videos, research-based information, and group discussions. 

Current Events covers topics and events happening around the world. Scholastic News magazines are used for these lessons and discussions. A variety of interactive online resources support the magazine issues. Ranchers enjoy many lively debates, as well as written responses that reflect their own individual opinions.

Friendship Class offers important opportunities to practice appropriate social interactions and enhance personal relationships and friendships at Rainbow Acres. Ranchers learn to become a good listener, how to share their own ideas, and how to participate in meaningful conversations and communication. 

Life Skills allow Ranchers to review and practice important details about leading a productive life as an adult with ASD. They learn helpful tips about laundry, cleaning, banking, shopping, and the importance of healthy social interactions with housemates, caregivers, and staff members.  

Mind/Body/Spirit Connections provides an opportunity for daily prayer, guided meditation, and gentle yoga stretches. Ranchers and staff members can use this time to connect spiritually with others, take time out to reflect on intrapersonal goals through meditation, and relieve stress through yoga exercises.

Personal Health and Wellness encourages Ranchers to learn more about their personal strengths by enhancing both physical and emotional well-being through the exploration of diet, exercise, sleep, medical information, research and communication. 

Reading and Writing for Success is an individualized program that encourages Ranchers to improve reading strategies to enhance written and verbal communication. Reading for pleasure is a skill that can complement their personal lives and daily success. Many forms of writing can be therapeutic such as: journaling, memoirs and poetry.

Adults Practicing Social Skills, Time and Money Management

Social Hour is always popular! Ranchers can kick back and enjoy each other’s company with casual conversations while listening to music, participating in sing-alongs, playing games with others, or hanging out in the library and computer lab. It’s a relaxing environment that encourages friendship, support, and fun for all! 

State Parks Exploration takes Ranchers on exciting journeys through the best and most beautiful state parks. A video presentation will guide us through these magical places located all across the United States. Research about each park and informational guides and support will provide a mini-vacation for all who attend!

Sustainable Landscapes illustrates and provides educational opportunities for the Ranchers to understand how sustainable landscapes are not only responsive to environmental extremes but can also quickly regenerate and actively contribute to the development of healthy communities.  

Time and Money Management builds confidence and provides hands-on activities to review and practice important time-telling techniques and money usage. Ranchers can shop at the WTC’s very own “Rainbow Market,” purchasing items, paying for them, and making change.

World Ecosystems helps Ranchers understand our environment. Since natural ecosystems are a function of people and place, this course focuses on understanding the values and roles of modern cultures and the cultural practices that support ecosystem management and conservation.