Opportunities to get out and about have been limited for everyone these past two years, thanks to COVID. It’s been particularly rough for Monroe 2-Orleans BOCES students at the Paul Road Transition Program who enjoy socializing with neighbors and benefit from participating in all kinds of community activities. Paul Road teachers and staff members, who along with their students had watched the nearby Chili Community Center being built, had a great idea. If they could get memberships for their classes, the Center could be an introduction to a range of exciting activities these young people could enjoy throughout their adult lives.
Our wonderful Special Education Parent Teacher Organization (SEPTO) stepped up and supplied the funds necessary to purchase one-year memberships for all 16 of the Paul Road students.
"Nate Parker and his students have been a great partner to SEPTO," said SEPTO President Colleen Dox-Griffith. "They volunteer whenever SEPTO is hosting an event. They have worked at the Scholastic Book Fairs gaining experience in sales, customer service and money skills at the cash register. They’ve also helped at the fun fair working the game booths and concessions."
The students love their new memberships and were excited to have pictures taken for their official membership badges. The morning and afternoon groups visit the Center with school staff about once a week for physical education – walking on the indoor track, playing ping pong, basketball and pickleball. They have also explored the Chili Library, which has a branch in the Center. Students will be able to take advantage of their memberships on their own this summer.
Teacher Nate Parker said, “The Community Center has provided students the opportunity to practice pro-social interactions with community members who are providing a service. As they have become more familiar with the facility and with staff, they can independently navigate the Center. This might involve signing in using their badges, asking staff what parts of the facility are available for use at a given time, asking for an available room in which they might play a preferred game, and engaging in small talk with other members.”
Many of the students wrote thank-you letters to SEPTO:
- "I really like the center and its activities, especially pickleball and basketball, but I also like the library there.”
- “Thank you for donating to help us get IDs for the Chili Recreational Center. My favorite activities to do at the community center are walking around the track and playing basketball.”
- “It’s a nice place to visit with your family and friends.”
- “I just want to say thank you for getting badges for the Chili Community Center. It was nice and that you should come visit up at Paul Road. The building has good people and furniture. Good work.”
- “I had a good time and learned what they do over there, and it helped me to move around on the walking track."
“The experience has been so great for them, that we are already contemplating ways to procure passes for next year!” Parker said.
“We would like to thank Director of Parks and Recreation Mike Curley and his staff for helping us through the process of getting our students signed up. It is quite an undertaking, and they have been consistently welcoming and flexible in dealing with our students and staff.”