Virtual enrichment programs for students with disabilities are becoming increasingly prevalent, especially with the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic. If you’re looking for a great way to engage with your community and live a fuller life, these classes and activities are the perfect options. In this blog, we’ll take a closer look at online enrichment programs for students with disabilities to help you choose the right options for you.
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What Are Life Enrichment Programs for Students with Disabilities?
In-person and online enrichment programs for students with disabilities include activities and classes designed to enhance your life and promote personal growth. These programs are informed by person-centered wellness, which supports the emotional, mental, and physical needs of individuals with disabilities.
Online enrichment programs give you the opportunity to participate in your community while pursuing your hobbies and passions, no matter your disability. And because they’re online, virtual life enrichment programs for students with disabilities are available anywhere you have an Internet or mobile data connection.
While there are a wide variety of online skills enrichment programs available, here are a few popular options:
- Book clubs
- Choirs and singing groups
- Community outreach programs
- Drawing and/or painting classes
- Fitness classes
- Board game and/or trivia clubs
- History classes
- Religious services and programs
Life Enrichment Programs for Students with Disabilities Benefit You Emotionally
Online enrichment programs keep you connected with friends and family, which can reduce feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression. Participating in social situations (even virtually) can also help you feel a sense of belonging and improve your self-esteem and confidence. Finally, connecting with others can ease feelings of isolation and loneliness, especially during times of social distancing.
Life Enrichment Programs for Students with Disabilities Benefit You Mentally
Research shows that the negative effects of poor mental health and mental illness are particularly acute among people with disabilities. These detrimental effects include a higher risk of chronic illness, decreased overall wellness, and worsening mental health disorders.
Regular cognitive activity can improve your mental health, reasoning abilities, and memory, along with helping you develop a sense of achievement and boosting your ability to solve problems. Virtual skills enrichment programs are great ways to improve your mental health because they keep you busy while helping you avoid negative thoughts.
Life Enrichment Programs for Students with Disabilities Benefit You Physically
Staying active is essential to leading a healthy lifestyle, but this can be difficult for people with disabilities. However, regular exercise is key to managing chronic disability-related medical conditions and maintaining your bones, muscles, and joints.
Online life enrichment programs for students with disabilities that are focused on physical activity can help you develop self-confidence while lowering your risk of obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. Exercise can also improve your independence by making it easier to navigate your physical environment.
There are a variety of low-impact online exercise programs available for students with disabilities, including chair yoga, body weight and resistance band workouts, and video games like Wii Fit.
Online Community Enrichment Programs for Students with Disabilities
Students with disabilities are often isolated from their non-disabled peers, which can have a significant negative impact on their overall well-being. Virtual community enrichment programs give you equal access to society and the world around you. You’ll also experience a stronger community presence without simply being reduced to your disability label.
Virtual community enrichment programs give students with disabilities the opportunity for civic engagement and volunteerism, which can build self-worth and a sense of belonging. Additionally, they promote disability inclusion by helping individuals with limitations feel accepted and welcomed as they fully participate in community life.
Virtual Music Enrichment Programs for Students with Disabilities
Taking an online music enrichment program encourages students with disabilities to express themselves through the joyful experience of making music. Along with providing an environment for socialization and communication, music helps students feel a sense of belonging and purpose. It can also be a bonding experience to discuss your favorite musical groups, albums, or songs.
Playing a musical instrument can be completely nonverbal, making it ideal for students with speech disorders or communication challenges. Touching an instrument, listening to the sounds it makes, and reading lyrics are all perfect ways to stimulate your senses. And because making music utilizes both brain hemispheres, it helps you stay mentally active while facilitating better health.
Virtual Education Programs for Students with Disabilities
By April 2020 (a mere month into the COVID-19 pandemic), 80% of children in the United States had access to some type of online learning. There are many benefits of online enrichment programs for students with disabilities, which we’ll examine in more detail below:
- Students with mobility disabilities can learn from the comfort of their own homes, rather than having to navigate inaccessible campuses.
- Students with visual impairments can use braille keyboards, voice-to-text programs, and audio recordings to reinforce learning.
- Students with hearing impairments can watch video lectures with subtitles and better communicate with peers and teachers through forums and emails.
- Students with learning disabilities (e.g. dyslexia) can alter digital texts to process and retain written information in the most effective way for them.
- Students with psychiatric disabilities (e.g. depression or anxiety) may feel more comfortable learning from the privacy of their own home, rather than a noisy classroom setting.
Virtual learning also allows you to maintain your privacy if you choose not to report your disability for fear of discrimination or prejudice. You may feel more comfortable participating in educational activities and discussions in a quiet, controlled environment that meets your individual needs.
Students with disabilities often find online learning more appealing because it gives you the ability to set your own schedule and work at a comfortable pace. This means you can study when you’re feeling most capable, rather than having to adhere to a rigid agenda. Plus, you can repeat lessons and activities when necessary without feeling like you’re holding back your classmates.
Finally, online learning environments promote curiosity and a thirst for knowledge due to the endless amount of information available on the Internet. Having access to these resources can help you write better papers, earn higher test scores, and feel more prepared for life after graduation.
Prepare for Life Post-Graduation with the UDS Transition School
Preparing for life after high school graduation can feel overwhelming, especially if you’re a student with a disability. The UDS Transition School helps alleviate these challenges by making the shift from high school to college or employment as smooth as possible.
Our experienced instructors will work with you virtually or in-person to help you find competitive employment and become a contributing member of your community. They also coordinate with your high school teachers to fully support your future plans and personal goals.
High school juniors and seniors take UDS Transition School courses one day a week during the school year and receive school credit for participation. Classes include (but are not limited to) creating and maintaining a budget, developing independent living skills, building communication and social abilities, and managing workplace interactions.
Choose Online & In-Person Programs from Adult Enrichment
UDS offers a variety of activities and classes designed to help you build life skills through our Adult Enrichment program. These activities help you live a fuller life in your community through the opportunity to socialize, learn, and develop valuable life skills. Adult Enrichment curriculum includes (but isn’t limited to) the following:
- Arts and crafts
- Community integration
- Concerts and music
- Health and wellness
- Independent living skills
A variety of virtual skills enrichment programs are currently available from Adult Enrichment, allowing you to participate in classes from the comfort of your own home. All you need to get started is Internet access and the ability to join Zoom meetings.