ARC helps clients interact Program benefits both groups EAST COLUMBIA

July 27, 1993|By Adam Sachs | Adam Sachs,Staff Writer

Charles Barnaba has a long way to go to master the finer points of billiards and pingpong, but that didn't stop him from enjoying himself at the Columbia Association Teen Center.

Some of his pingpong shots flew halfway across the recreation room, and he eventually gave up using a pool cue in favor of rolling the balls with his hand. But he rarely took a break from the games during the Howard County Association for Retarded Citizens' (ARC) visit to the Teen Center last week.

Mr. Barnaba is one of 27 developmentally disabled adults who is participating in a joint program with the Columbia Association to integrate ARC workshop participants into recreational, creative and community activities at Columbia facilities.

Groups of four to five developmentally disabled adults made six visits to the Columbia Art Center in Long Reach village last month to learn how to paint and work with clay, said Ann Scherr, association assistant director of community services. This month, the small groups participated in arts, crafts and games at the Teen Center in Oakland Mills village, aided by the association's Teen Leadership Camp.

"It's been working out real well," said Lisa Callen, a support specialist who supervises the developmentally disabled adults at ARC's Ellicott Enterprises employment workshop. "This is different for them. A lot of people I work with live at home and don't get out a lot. This gives them something a little different to do."

ARC adults have an opportunity to expand their horizons and improve interpersonal skills through the program, which allows them to meet new people outside their families and Ellicott Enterprises supervisors and co-workers, Ms. Callen said. The program also has been a learning experience for the Teen Leadership Camp participants, who have helped teach games and crafts to the developmentally disabled adults.

"The kids have been great," Ms. Callen said. "They came right in and started working with them. They didn't seem afraid. I was surprised. I thought it might take time for interaction."

Helping the ARC adults is an outreach project for the Teen Leadership Camp, which emphasizes developing leadership skills in seventh- through ninth-graders.

Samantha Freed, 12, of Kings Contrivance village, said she has had previous experience helping a developmentally disabled relative.

"I like helping out other people," Samantha said. "I taught them how to play all the games in the rec room."

Samantha served up cream-puff pingpong shots that Mr. Barnaba whacked with a grin, while Teen Leadership camper Debra Dwoskin, 12, battled ARC participant Marlene Baker in air hockey. Teen leadership campers Ryan Pollack, 11, and Brian Lothran, 13, taught ARC participant Kathy Weinel to play pool.

The program benefits the community by exposing residents to people with disabilities who they otherwise might never see, Ms. Callen said.

ARC is working with the association on plans to take developmentally disabled adults to Columbia athletic clubs and pools later this summer, Ms. Callen said. Pool visits would require provisions for lifeguard supervision, and probably would take place at times when pools are less crowded, she said.

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