Each year, the adult consumers at United Cerebral Palsy’s (UCP) Chatsworth program go on a field trip to Disneyland. They have been so inspired by their Disneyland visits that the consumers and staff decided to create an interactive classroom based on one of their favorite spots, Frontierland.
This UCP program is situated on a five-acre property in a peaceful and rustic setting. The program currently serves 60 adult consumers, all of whom are in wheelchairs, and half of whom live in the seven group homes on the property. From their location, they have a nice view of the Stoney Point boulder just south of the 118 freeway.
In 2008 they were evacuated three times due to the wild fires. Fortunately they did not suffer any losses.
Walter Olson and Berenice Alpio work on a holiday project in the Tiki Room at UCP.
After some discussion, the consumers and staff decided to recreate Frontierland’s Tiki Room. The consumers came up with a concept that included colorful birds and a tropical theme. They then went out into the community to purchase the materials that they needed. A major part of the project included painting a beautiful jungle-themed mural on one of the walls.
“We weren’t quite sure what we were doing when we first started painting it, but we are pleased with the results,” says UCP program director John Lynch. A visitor to UCP would easily think it was made by professional artists. It took six months and everyone helping to complete the entire project.
Gardening activities are the focus of the Tiki Room and consumers are more enthusiastic than ever when it comes to learning about the whole cycle of growth – from planting the seeds, watering the plants, and watching them develop. They have even grown produce that they are able to take home with them.
NLACRC service coordinator Pierrette Jordan has a client at UCP who enjoys the gardening program and the Tiki Room. He had a difficult time fitting in with other programs before coming to UCP.
“The UCP staff try to make the program meet the needs of the consumers rather than trying to fit them into the program design. It is a reflection of how much they really care. The consumers and the staff want to be there and it shows,” says Pierrette.
Sharon Trees enjoys the mural painted by UCP customers and staff in the Tiki Room.