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“Activities I Never Dreamed of Doing” : Ordinary Happiness for Jeju’s Developmentally Disabled
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승인 2024.01.18  17:18:26
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Shopping, watching movies in a theater, having hobbies, and meeting various people to share common interests – these everyday activities, often taken for granted, were not always accessible for people with developmental disabilities. However, for the past eight months, they have been gifted with these experiences.

Haean Ujinville ran the ‘Thrilling Real Life’ program, a part of the ‘Samdasoo Happy+’ project by the Jeju Development Corporation, co-organized by the Jeju Social Welfare Council and the Jeju Social Welfare Community Chest.

This program aimed to enhance the social skills and community participation of developmentally disabled individuals. It involved 12 young residents of Haean Ujinville participating in various activities, promoting their social skills and independent growth, by engaging in community-linked social activities based on their own decisions, thereby achieving personal development.

Individuals with severe developmental disabilities, particularly those who are young adults beyond school age, often face challenges in communication and interaction due to behavioral issues. Additionally, their lack of social skills and frequent exclusion from interpersonal relationships lead to limited external activities.

Moreover, after admission to facilities, individuals often participate in group activities rather than personalized ones, due to limited staffing and budget constraints, neglecting their unique disability characteristics, needs, or preferred activities.

Haean Ujinville designed this program to address these vulnerabilities of young adults with developmental disabilities. With funding from the ‘Samdasoo Happy+’ project, it became feasible to operate tailored, one-on-one social participation programs aligned with each participant’s interests, needs, and disability characteristics.

The tailored program, designed to support social adaptation for people with developmental disabilities through community engagement, is divided into two stages: the basic course involves self-exploration to develop individual plans for each participant, and the advanced course consists of field experiences aimed at community adaptation.

Participants in the program experienced significant personal growth and improved social adaptability through educational, leisure, and cultural experiences. Notably, the program was meaningful in that it allowed individuals, rather than group participation, to choose and engage in activities they were interested in.

Participants with developmental disabilities had the opportunity to fulfill their desires through various activities outside the facility, which were previously inaccessible to them. These included climbing, Pilates, horseback riding, Taekwondo, bowling, and sea swimming, catering to a wide range of interests and needs.

During the fleeting eight-month period, individuals with developmental disabilities expanded their experiences through ordinary activities like learning, dining out, shopping, and leisure activities, along with cultural experiences at tourist sites and cultural facilities. This program significantly widened their exposure to everyday experiences of a typical life.

The response from instructors and guardians involved in the program was overwhelmingly positive. One instructor noted, “Teaching individuals with developmental disabilities helped me overcome my prejudices,” and expressed a commitment to continue supporting and assisting in enhancing their social skills.

Guardian B of a participant with developmental disabilities shared, “Seeing my child happily engaging in activities and having a joyful expression made me feel elated. Most importantly, it was gratifying to see them participate in various activities we couldn’t afford before.”

The person in charge of the program at Haean Ujinville expressed satisfaction, saying, “I am happy to have provided exciting everyday experiences for the users this year,” and extended gratitude to the Community Chest of Korea, Jeju Social Welfare Council, and Jeju Development Corporation for making this meaningful opportunity possible.

Kim In-sook, the director of Haean Ujinville, remarked, “The social participation of adult individuals with developmental disabilities is often limited in many aspects, but this project allowed each individual to expand their experiences significantly. I am delighted that this opportunity has led to substantial growth for them through diverse experiences.”

Haean Ujinville, a residential facility for people with disabilities under the social welfare corporation Ujin, opened in June 2021. It aims to support the ordinary lives of its residents, promoting independence and social participation through various welfare services and community connections.

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