Charles Barnaba has a long way to go to master the finer points of billiards and Ping-Pong, but that didn't stop him from enjoying himself at the Columbia Association Teen Center.
Some of his Ping-Pong 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, CA 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 CA'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, said Ms. Callen.
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," said Ms. Callen. "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.
ARC is working with CA on plans to take developmentally disabled adults to Columbia athletic clubs and pools, said Ms. Callen.