A grant from the Community Foundation for Kingston & Area (CFKA) will support Ongwanada with $15,000 to augment their existing virtual programming.
Ongwanada, an organization dedicated to supporting people with developmental disabilities, says they will use the funds to hire a “Virtual Programming Consultant” to assist and motivate staff and support individuals in the use of tablets and iPads, thereby allowing the people they support to increasingly participate in virtual wellness activity groups, virtual programming, and connect virtually with family and friends, including peers.
According to a release from Ongwanada, dated Monday, Jan. 18, 2021, the virtual programming and supports were implemented by the organization as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. A Wellness Activity Group of various Ongwanada staff members from multiple backgrounds formed to develop virtual programs to maintain client well-being during the pandemic. According to the release, this was accomplished through various activities, including keep-fit, friendly inter-residence competition, music cafes, and opportunities to connect with friends and families within and without the organization and provision of virtual consults and supports. Maintaining physical and mental well-being during the pandemic has been, and continues to be, emphasized by public health officials and political leaders.
Since implementation, Ongwanada says program feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. However, participation is only 30 to 40 per cent of potential participants. This rate is a result of staff, and supported individuals, being unfamiliar or uncomfortable with technology, Ongwanada said in the release.
This project will involve a Virtual Programming Consultant to focus on implementing and supporting participation in virtual programming for homes and supported individuals living alone in the community and exploring other virtual program opportunities. According to the release, the consultant will make staff comfortable using technology, joining virtual programming, supporting and aiding people’s participation, identifying and resolving barriers to participation, and exploring other virtual program options. Ongwanada says their goal is to have 100 per cent of those interested involved.
Monika Cook, a chaplain and a member of Ongwanada’s wellness activity group, says, “I have witnessed the benefit of connection through virtual supports for the people we serve. Through our online programming led by clinicians, we have seen monumental changes in mood and behaviours. For this reason, I am a strong advocate to see practical support, such as our virtual programming, grow and have a more significant impact on the people we serve. With great enthusiasm, we welcome our new virtual programming assistant to help facilitate these critical connections. We are in this together. Thank you to the members of the Community Foundation for Kingston and Area for seeing merit in our program, giving us the resources to have a greater connection in our community.”
To find out more about how CFKA Community Grants impact the community, check out their Facebook page.