Did you know that October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month? Every October, we are given an entire 31 days to celebrate the fantastic contributions made by people with disabilities – both to America’s economy and workforce. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy has led the charge on awareness during October and beyond. They will also showcase supportive and inclusive policies and practices that benefit workers and employers.
At Mercy Home, we live by our motto “Life Skills Lifelong”, all year round! We pride ourselves in creating fun activities that cultivate workforce readiness skills simultaneously.
In our program Plant, Grow, Give, individuals are cultivating a number of important skills relevant to vocational training. By learning how to propagate, care for, and harvest vegetables, fruits, herbs, and ornamental plants, participants become acquainted with the wide field of horticulture. Patience, gentleness, and consistency are all skills that are cultivated in this practice- by learning how to grow plants, individuals are taking on the role of caregivers and also building self-esteem.
After we reap what we sow and harvest our plants, individuals then learn a number of other relevant skills. We frequently make a variety of fresh salads as prepare dishes such as kale chips and sautéed mushrooms, building a repertoire of culinary skills.
This year we also learned about preserving our harvests through the process of pickling. At our fundraiser Beer, Bourbon, and Bites, celebrants enjoyed a sample of our pickle chips as a party favor and our picklers received rave reviews! Additionally, a significant portion of our produce is donated (putting the “give” in Plant, Grow, Give) and when we go out into the community with our produce, individuals practice important social skills. On our last trip to the nearby community fridge, we ran into community members who frequently interact with the participants, and were able to share our delicious vegetables with these friends.
-Written by Maggie Riche, Mercy Home's Horticultural Therapist