Maine LEND program hosts Family Games and Sports Day
It was below zero on Saturday, Feb. 4, but no one was cold in the gymnasium of the Finley Recreation Center on UNE’s Portland Campus. There, 59 people played games, engaged in creative crafts, and participated in new sports activities as part of the Maine Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND) program Family Game and Sports Day.
The LEND program promotes family-centered inclusion in the community for people with disabilities. The Family Game and Sports Day is an annual event designed to support families in the community to have fun, happy, and healthy times together.
Maine LEND trainee Cassandra Susi (D.P.T., ’23) planned and implemented the adaptive sports program as her LEND elective while recruiting eight of her physical therapy peers to support participants. Maine LEND interprofessional trainees are each paired with a family in the community to learn about the realities of life with a child who has neurodevelopmental disabilities.
Sports activities included pickleball, soccer, and basketball. Andrew Wissler, Maine LEND self-advocate, facilitated organization of the activities and organized a self-advocate meeting just prior to the event to encourage young adults to attend.
Games included giant “Jenga,” cornhole, “Guess Who?,” “Twister,” and parachute play while the craft table designed adaptive Valentine cards, snap bracelets, puff paint art, and paint by stickers. Healthy snacks and drinks nourished the participants as part of the program.
The activities and games allowed students to observe what a typical day looks like for these families, Sydney Wolf (M.S. Social Work, ’23) said.
"Events like this give me the opportunity to connect with families on a deeper level than I might be able to through more clinical work and really learn about the joys and challenges of having children with disabilities,” Wolf stated.