By Catherine Metz, Life Skills Educator

As we have responded to the restrictions that Covid-19 has placed on us, the Education Team has continued to offer great educational adventures and activities for the Ranchers. Most recently, the Worden-Taber Center has a beautiful, spacious new porch addition that we are utilizing for group programs such as Read Aloud sessions, Wii challenges, and Computer Cafe.

As we move forward, the Ranchers are to be commended for their resilience and positive participation throughout the many changes in classes and routines. Their enthusiasm and positive feedback have provided the Education Team with invaluable insights and have contributed to the success of our new strategies and course offerings.

New Program Formats Introduced for our Adults with Developmental Differences

After in-person classes had to be cancelled due to the pandemic, a new program format was introduced to benefit the Ranchers. Each day, five different sessions were delivered either online or through the Ranch’s radio station to the individual houses. Many staff members contributed and participated in the creation and delivery of these lessons. It truly does “take a village” to meet the needs of the Ranchers during these uncertain times. Kudos to our amazing staff and caregivers for all of their continued support.

Radio-broadcasted Prayer Circle

A radio-broadcasted Prayer Circle began each morning with an opportunity for Ranchers and staff members to listen and pray with a variety of different hosts sharing God’s grace. Scripture readings, daily devotionals, Christian music and hymns, motivational anecdotes, and other inspirational activities provided solace and hope for listeners during these difficult days.

The mid-morning class was our version of a talk show known as the Daily Dish. Each day, a variety of educators and staff members presented a pre-recorded video that celebrated the National Day of the year. Some of the fan-favorite shows included: Tempura Day, Bubble Bath Day, and Peanut Butter Day. (Yes, as you can imagine, the blooper reels are hilarious and priceless!) During this broadcast, theme music and videos were shared. Many fun facts were presented about each day, as well as the history or origin of the day being celebrated.

Getting to know each other – “Guess Who?”

We also incorporated a “Who Am I?” segment where Ranchers and staff members submitted a fact sheet about themselves, which was read to the audience at the beginning of the segment. The “Who Am I?” celebrity was revealed at the end of the show. This provided a lot of talk and curiosity on the campus, and also kept us feeling close to one another.

Next up, was our “Let’s Do Lunch” radio show. Ranchers and staff could tune in during the lunch hour for special announcements, call-in contests, jokes, song requests, stories, and another daily dose of inspiration. Many of the senior staff members and the Admissions Team prepared and presented these awesome broadcasts. The Ranchers enjoyed listening and interacting with the presenters, participating in the radio contests, requesting their favorite songs, and sharing a funny joke to be heard over the Rainbow Acres airwaves. Again, this was a wonderful opportunity to feel connected, even when individual houses were separated.

Ranchers connect with countries through Virtual Traveling Tour

After lunch, we began our Virtual Traveling Tour of different countries. These visits included Bolivia, France, Greece, India, Ireland, Israel, Jamaica, Madagascar, Mexico, Niger, Spain and Thailand. Educators presented information about the country’s map, flag, holidays, celebrations, music, cultural traditions and foods. Videos provided a visual experience for the Ranchers to connect with each country. Music, readings, worksheets and assorted activities also helped bring “mini vacations” to Rainbow Acres during our lockdown situation.

Our final activity of each day was a Read Aloud video session. Ranchers were able to listen and view several different books. Balto and the Great Race, a true story, involved a courageous sled dog traveling bravely through a blizzard to deliver an antitoxin serum during a diphtheria epidemic. Many similarities were noted and discussed, as we battled the pandemic in our own lives. The next winter-based title shared was The Three Snow Bears. This adventure was written and beautifully illustrated by Jan Brett. The tale closely resembles the fairytale of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, with an Arctic twist. The Ranchers in each house enjoyed creating their own murals depicting the landscape, characters, and details from this story. Our last novel, Filed Under: 13 Suspicious Incidents, by Lemony Snicket, allowed the Ranchers to practice their sleuthing skills. Several different mysterious events were presented, and the Ranchers had to successfully brainstorm the details to solve these suspicious incidents. Great fun was had by all, and opportunities to read and explore other similar books was encouraged.

The future will bring a return to normalcy. As we move through 2021, we look forward to reuniting with each other in small groups and classes, sharing lunch in the Palmer Community Center, welcoming volunteers, visiting local communities, and enjoying Rancher Vacations again. We can’t wait! Let the fun begin!