Strike! Actually, nobody is out; it is not time for a new inning. This is bowling, not baseball. And the participants of Weekend Recreation, our community-based respite program in Passaic and Essex counties, love it! More than a fun afternoon out, bowling and other Weekend Recreation events are a time of close friendship and bonding. “They love it,” says Danica Lafortune, Weekend Coordinator at Advancing Opportunities’ Parsippany office.
Actually, the fun starts before the large group settles at the lanes. Pizza! This is a time when conversation and laughter punctuated bites of hot pizza and other favorites. Afterward, everyone is ready to head to the bowling alley nearby. “I really like coming here,” echoed Cathy, one of the participants.
Of course, fun and social companionship are priorities. In addition, Weekend Recreation staff foster as much independence among the individuals as possible. During a recent bowling outing, at the first lane, Danica had C.J. and Chris type in the names at the score-keeping terminal. At one point, C.J. went to ask the managers to free a ball that had become stuck in the adjacent lane.
Each month, Weekend Recreation staff and participants celebrate birthdays for that 30-day period. Often, after finished their cake, they join in a dance to a popular music. Need advice on a song or band? Just ask Robbie. When he’s not singing, he is ready to put his encyclopedic language of popular music to use for a recommendation.
“We have a really good group—and very supportive parents” says Danica. The music kept playing, but the volume had been turned down. It was time for the participants to go home with their parents or guardians. They were already looking forward to next week’s event.