Young adults with developmental disabilities often struggle to find fulfillment and connect with their peers and community in a meaningful way. Many live at home with their families, are unable to work, and have limited opportunities for participating in productive and enriching activities and developing their life skills.
EIHAB Human Services saw a tremendous need for day habilitation services for this population in Suffolk County. Earlier this year, the nonprofit organization filled some of that need when it expanded its successful day habilitation program, “Program without Walls,” to Bohemia. EIHAB already has similar programs, which meet Mondays through Fridays, in Garden City, Queens and Brooklyn.
Based in EIHAB’s existing Bohemia office, the new program currently serves 20 participants – men and women ages 21 to about 45 – who, as the program name implies, engage in activities that take place out in the community.
The group may visit a library to do reading exercises and work on their research skills and then go to a beach, a movie or for a cultural walk. There are special outings to amusement parks, sporting events and horseback riding. On a recent Friday, the group spent a day in a local park, where they had a barbecue and played ball. When the pandemic subsides, participants will have opportunities to volunteer at senior citizen centers and to learn how to stock shelves and perform other tasks at retailers such as drug stores and pet shops, as the groups in EIHAB’s other locations have done.
“The goal is total immersion in the community,” said Joshua Thomas, co-executive director of EIHAB. “Rather than sitting at home, participants are able to socialize with their peers, develop new skills and lead more enriching lives.”
Each week, the Program Without Walls team holds planning meetings with participants so they can plan their activities.
“The individuals are thrilled to be participating, and their families have been thanking us for getting them into this program,” said Hamdy Elgindy, co-executive director of EIHAB. The program already has a waiting list, and EIHAB hopes to expand it to serve more Suffolk residents.
Day habilitation is one of a wide range of services offered by EIHAB, which is a multicultural, multilingual organization that enhances the quality of life for hundreds of adults and children with developmental disabilities and behavioral health challenges in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. EIHAB provides residential, job readiness, community habilitation and respite programs as well as person-centered planning to help foster greater independence and community inclusion for the individuals it serves. Visit eihab.org to learn more.