In an earlier post, we talked about the importance of community engagement and shared some ideas for community activities. But, how do you remain engaged during unexpected and challenging times like the ongoing pandemic, weather-related disasters or while recovering from an injury or illness?
One thing COVID-19 has taught us is that it is important to stay connected virtually with family, friends, colleagues and our communities when it’s not possible to have face-to-face interaction. Not being able to see or talk to people on a regular basis can certainly take its toll on overall health and could make us feel sad and lonely.
Staying connected can be as simple as a phone or video chat, virtual lunch or online TV show/movie viewing party. There are also a variety of community engagement activities available online. For example, Volunteer Match and Points of Light connect people with volunteer opportunities. You can search these sites by causes of interest and skills, and filter results for virtual opportunities. You might also consider taking an online exercise, art or music class.
Many museums, aquariums and zoos are also doing virtual tours and live video presentations.
- Watch and learn about sea animals: Monterey Bay Aquarium (more videos on the aquarium’s YouTube channel), National Aquarium and Shedd Aquarium.
- Learn about zoo animals by watching live cams, videos and Facebook live presentations: San Diego Zoo (also check out the zoo’s Facebook page), Cincinnati Zoo and National Zoo.
- Interested in space? Check out NASA’s virtual tours: Langley Research Center and Glenn Research Center.
- Want to learn history? Take an online tour at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History or the British Museum.
- Take a virtual field trip to an art museum: Tour the Louvre and Art Institute of Chicago.
You can also tour thousands of museums, National Parks and other cultural sites for free through Google Arts and Culture. These fun activities are great ways to learn about the world, animals, space, history and more.
It is also important to continue practicing job and life skills. At Didlake, we work with our Day Support and Employment Services Program participants to continue building skills from home. At the start of the pandemic, we offered telehealth services for Day Support Program participants to engage with staff and peers. Employment Services offered virtual job coaching by Employment Specialists. We continue to reach out regularly to individuals who do not feel ready to return in person.
Our goal is for individuals to be as independent as possible so we focus on skills that help them reach their goals, such as time management, task completion, communications, cooking, shopping (online when needed), and job search and interview skills. Consider asking a family member, friend or teacher to practice these skills with you or help you access online websites.
It’s important that we find ways to remotely stay connected when we can’t be in person. Schedule regular calls with friends and family; find online engagement and enrichment activities that you enjoy and continue practicing skills. All of these activities will help you stay engaged, build relationships and transition back into in-person activities when the time is right for you.