Without Walls encourages community exploration

Messenger Post Media
Without Walls student Mitchell catches a fish during an outing with the program.

Students in the Without Walls program at the Cobblestone Arts Center in Farmington couldn’t wait to get back to their friends and community activities after the state shut down to control the spread of COVID-19.

This day program for persons with disabilities reopened at the end of July with about half of the students returning. Many chose to stay home and continue live classes on the computer.

Students enjoyed their annual visit to the American Equipment sunflower field at state Route 332 and Collett Road. Harry Wells, managing vice president of American Equipment, has had the field planted for nine years for everyone to enjoy and allows the sunflowers to be picked.

Without Walls programs enable participants to support their life plan and goals by utilizing community resources and facilities, according to the New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities. These outings teach and reinforce social skills, money management, making informed choices and problem-solving.

The program at Cobblestone has an arts-based perspective with visits to art galleries, museums, concerts, parks and libraries that highlight music, dance, theater and art. Students also interact and practice social skills in the community by performing in nursing homes and day care centers, and going out for lunch, coffee and ice cream.

Cobblestone adapted to COVID restrictions by going out in small groups and using area parks for classes.

“When we go out, we get to do a lot of fun stuff,” participant Candace G. said. “We get to go swimming, fishing and go out for ice cream.”

Candace said she loves doing things for other people, and enjoys going to schools and nursing homes to perform. Fellow student Tiffany Z. said she enjoys seeing new things and meeting new people.

“I’m happy to be back,” she said. “We can connect with our friends, we get outside a lot and we’re doing creative things like art and music in the park.”

Two to three groups go out each day with two staff members. Call 585-398-0220 or visit cobblestoneartscenter.com for information.

Without Walls participants visit fairy houses in Mendon.