As an agency of the Rappahannock Area Community Services Board for more than 35 years, Rappahannock Adult Activity, Inc. (RAAI) provides community-based day support services to adults with intellectual disability. At RAAI, we strive to provide person-centered programming with an emphasis on positive behavioral supports, utilizing each individual’s strengths to the best of their ability.
We believe that the best way for our participants to further the ARC of Virginia’s vision of “a life like yours” is to become actively participating members of their community. To assist them in this aspect of their lives we endeavor to provide our participants with opportunities to utilize their community, learn from their community, and educate their community. These opportunities include volunteer work, exercise classes, participating in community activities, taking classes at the vocational center, and leisure activities. We have also developed programs that aid in their social development and benefit the community at the same time; such as our successful Horticulture Program.
The horticulture program includes spring bedding, the Downtown Greens project, Mayfest, and our poinsettia sales and delivery in the winter. Participants benefit greatly from the work they do in the fully functional greenhouse and discovery center. They work hand in hand with our Horticulture Therapist. With support, they work on spring bedding in preparations for our annual celebration of Mayfest, they care for and deliver Poinsettias during the holiday season, and work on other community fundraisers like the annual Hope House Festival of Trees. The horticulture component is a vital component in our quest to provide opportunities to our participants to continually “live a life like yours.”
Several of our participants at RAAI volunteer their time in the community. This volunteer work includes setting up the Spotswood Baptist Church and Salem Baptist Church community centers for luncheons and dinners. Our participants collect and pick up recyclable materials and drop them off at the local United Way office for recycling. Some of our participants also help clean toys at a local day care affiliated with one of our church off sites. Often, they help put together mailings and newsletters for local non-profit organizations in the Fredericksburg Area, which they collate and mail.
Participants like George, Ron, and Lisa participate in weekly exercise classes at the local YMCA. There, they are able to utilize the exercise equipment and have all benefited greatly from the activities at the gym. They play organized sports like wally ball, basketball, T-ball, and Kickball. They learn sportsmanship and teamwork through their experiences at the YMCA and workout side by side with members of the community. Each of our community-based participants has a YMCA membership which also allows them to use the pool for swimming activities. Every participant who is actively working out at the YMCA is currently working on developing a personalized wellness plan tailored to their individual needs. This program is over seen by Tammy Steele, Special Needs Director at the local YMCA sites.
Our participants also attend local concerts and visit local museums. They shop at the mall, eat out at local restaurants, bowl and make day trips to places like the berry farm and a local favorite - Pitt’s Pond. These activities broaden their experiences, enhance their self-esteem, and increase their independence. They also educate the community both by example and interaction.
The activities most favored by our participants are our leisure activities. These include - but are definitely not limited to - playing sports, picnicking in the park, shopping in Downtown Fredericksburg and other local establishments, hanging out with their peers, and making new friends in the community. They have become regulars at places like Border’s Café where some are already on a first name basis with the staff there. They have made friends with the local librarians, the bowling alley attendants, and even the cashiers at their favorite grocery store!
Several of our participants also take a baking class at the Spotsylvania Vocational Center. There they work with Chef Lee Dematteo, baking cookies, cakes, and other pastries. They also make dog biscuits which are sold by the Fredericksburg SPCA as a fund raiser for their building fund. This activity enables them to use learn basic cooking skills, become more independent and builds their self esteem, especially when they’re able to share their successes with their peers!