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Southeast Students Prepare to Serve Developmentally Disabled at Horizons Enrichment Center

 

Southeast student Amber Halloran (center) helps participants with puzzles at the Horizons Enrichment Center.

As the only adult day program in the greater Cape Girardeau area, Southeast Missouri State University’s Horizons Enrichment Center serves a need for developmentally disabled adults, their families and students in the southeast Missouri area.

 

The Center, located at 2100 Themis Street in Cape Girardeau, offers curricula and services, including social integration, recreation therapy, group speech therapy, community field trips and many other activities. The Center has two classrooms each staffed by three teachers, a gym and a full kitchen for life skills education.

“The program offers supervision, recreation, life skill activities and social interaction in a caring atmosphere,” said Tracy Owens, director of the Center, a resource of the University’s Family Studies program. “It also allows parents, guardians, caregivers and other family members respite from the full-time responsibilities of care giving. It provides the program participants and their families an increased quality of life.”

The Center is beneficial to Southeast students as well. It provides them the opportunity to experience the daily operations of an adult enrichment agency, from administrative duties to budgeting and working with clients.

“We want our students to be immersed in the program, showing them all the ins and outs of running and working for an agency,” said Dr. Tony Faber, professor of family studies.

As part of a practicum, Southeast family studies majors assist and observe at the Center during the last eight weeks of the fall semester. The students spend 37 hours at the Center and teach the participants life skills. They also meet weekly with Owens and Faber to discuss issues related to the provision of services for developmentally disabled adults.

“The purpose is to expose students to different populations and to have them gain experience teaching different aspects of family life education,” Faber said.

Southeast student Marina Moore (left) helps a Horizons Enrichment Center participant shoot a basketball.

For junior Hayley Sidwell, a family studies major from Dittmer, Missouri, the knowledge and experience she’ll gain will help her help others.

“I picked my family studies major because I am passionate about helping people,” she said. “I want to make an impact on the world, and I know that starts with helping the people around me.”

Sidwell is looking forward to the experiential learning the practicum offers and expects that it will help shape her career focus.

“I want to learn what it is like to work with different people,” she said. “This gives me a taste of different fields and real-world experience and can help guide me into a specific career I could seek in the future.”

Amber Halloran, a senior family studies major from Barnhart, Missouri, agrees, adding, “I’ve expanded my career options based on my time at Horizons. I’ve worked with individuals before. It’s nice to work in a group setting like this.”

Marina Moore, a junior family studies major from St. Charles, Missouri, is excited about the experiential learning opportunities the Center offers.

“As a family studies major, I hope to work with several populations. Observing at the Center helps me learn what to expect when working with the adult developmentally disabled population,” she said.

The Center offers several benefits to students.

“While at the Center, the students will learn how to connect with the individuals, set boundaries, lead activities and engage the participants,” Owens said. “The professionals the students meet during their practicums are available as resources, and involvement with the agency can provide networking and job leads related to the agency.”

Halloran shares a laugh with a Horizons Enrichment Center participant.

The students that graduate from Southeast’s family studies program are eligible for Family Life Educator credentials, a certification that recognizes professionals that have met standards required to provide quality family life education, due to the experience they gain during practicums at agencies like Horizons.

Horizons Enrichment Center operates under Southeast’s College of Education, Health and Human Studies through the Department of Child and Family Studies. The program is licensed by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services and certified by the Missouri Department of Mental Health.

The program is designed to encourage independence and community interaction for individuals with special needs who are currently cared for at home or in an assisted living situation.

The Center is a medical model program with a full-time nurse on staff during scheduled program hours. The program runs from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday-Friday and uses two buses and two wheelchair-accessible vans to transport clients to and from the Center and on outings.

For more information about Horizons Enrichment Center, visit https://www.semo.edu/hec/index.html.

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