As Francis Mooney, daycare manager at Aaron House explained, the residents had two big events to get involved with, so they chose to combine the two, “For many years now we have taken part in Learning Disability week. The weeklong event takes place in June each year and is a way of celebrating and raising awareness of learning disability through different themes and activities. But there was a problem, it also overlapped the Euros.”
The UEFA 2020 European Cup Football competition began on 11 June, while Learning Disability Week started on the 14 June, but after lengthy discussions with residents and staff, everyone agreed that they would blend the two together.
“The theme for this year’s Learning Disability Week was ‘Art and Creativity’ so the plan was to enable our residents to paint all of the flags of the 24 participating nations and then make some bunting to hang up in our home. Of course, we have had to watch many of the football matches, but that was a cross we have had to bear! Everyone enjoyed getting involved with the painting and with the final on 11 July, we have a lot more matches to enjoy!” Francis Mooney continued.
“For many people with a learning disability and their families, getting creative has been a way to stay connected and positive through the challenges of last year. Being creative is something we love to do, especially with last year’s gardening competition, when we came top,” he said.
The lockdown gardening competition was inspired by last year’s virtual Chelsea Flower Show, which saw residents and tenants of PCI’s various homes and support units take part. The competition was a special initiative by the church’s Council for Social Witness, which is responsible for the overall management Aaron House along with the denomination’s nursing and residential care homes, its supported housing schemes for people with a learning disability, former offenders and those recovering from substance abuse.
Judged virtually by the Moderator, Right Reverend Dr David Bruce, and his wife Zoë, the competition came at a time when each of the gardens and outdoor facilities at the 17 different sites had become places of solace and renewal for residents, tenants and staff.
In top place were the residents and staff of Aaron House, which also celebrated its 25th anniversary last year. Residents and staff worked hard to create a number of visually interesting garden features, as home manager, Isabel Harper explained last year, “In a time when our residents couldn’t get out due to the lockdown, we wanted to create some areas for everyone to enjoy the tranquil and peaceful surroundings. We also wanted to stimulate our residents as we worked together to make things happen.
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Photos (1) Aaron House resident Elizabeth painting one of national flags (2) the national flags get strung up inside, (3) Niall gets creative as well during Learning Disability Week 2021