In March of 2020, a pandemic took over the world and all were forced into some type of isolation in order to stay safe. For Winslow and our participants, this meant that our facility had to close and no one but staff were allowed to enter. Understandably so, a lot of people were upset by this as the work they do at Winslow whether during their lesson or as a volunteer, provides meaning to their lives and gives them a safe place to go when they need a break from the “real” world. At Winslow, we have an Adult Day program that consists of over 25 participants who struggle with daily challenges.
Prior to COVID-19, these participants visited our facility Monday-Friday from 9am-2:30pm, participating in a variety of activities throughout their day. As a group, they enjoyed tending to their vegetable garden, caring for the goats, collecting chicken eggs, riding horses, playing games, cooking, completing crafts, and more! Winslow gave them a place to go that was judgement-free and supportive of their needs. COVID-19 challenged their lives and challenged Winslow staff. Our hearts were torn as walked through a silent barn and building each day. The laughter and joy that once filled our facility, was gone.
We knew that something had to be done, and we had to join the virtual revolution that took the world by storm! Our Adult Day program shifted to a virtual platform, still Monday-Friday and still focused on all the same activities. Participants logged in via Zoom from their residences and participated in learning about horses, animals, healthy cooking, garden care, and more! We were so proud of the resiliency of our participants and their efforts to be patient as we navigated the new world.
The virtual platform ended up being a huge success! Participants learned more about horsemanship than we ever imagined we could teach virtually. The virtual world made it possible for participants to expand their knowledge as staff offered more advanced horse anatomy lessons; brought them to new worlds to learn about Mongolian horsemen; introduced them to riding disciplines such as eventing, dressage, jumping, etc.; taught them about careers in the equine industry; provided them with extensive horse care knowledge such as treatments, hoof care, bathing, etc. The possibilities are endless! We also started to include our volunteers in to the program by having them Zoom in to say “hi” in their free time. Their Zoom visits with the participants were so heart-warming as they were all so excited to see each other.
Our Adult Day program participants showed an increase in appropriate virtual social skills, increase in attentiveness, they asked a ton of impressive questions, retained knowledge learned and demonstrated it through feedback, and much more! We could not be more proud of their poise and patience during this transition, and we are so very much impressed by their abilities and efforts! To support programs at Winslow such as the Adult Day program with a monetary donation, visit www.winslow.org!