By Caitlin O’Malior, Alternate Media Specialist
With the outbreak of COVID-19 and strict orders on social distancing, the world around us is changing the way we are operating in order to conduct business as usual. The dedicated staff at LightHouse has welcomed the challenge and have been offering a variety of virtual programs and workshops via the online application Zoom. One of the star programs in our virtual lineup is our Independent Living Skills (ILS) workshop, Hands-On Goes Virtual, hosted by a dynamic duo of ILS specialists, Bobbi Pompey and Dawn Leeflang. Every Friday morning at 10:00 a.m. for an hour and a half, LightHouse students from all over the Bay Area call in on their phones or internet devices to learn ILS “life hacks” through interactive instruction and discussions with the group leaders.
“Hands On” is not new to LightHouse students, but Bobbi and Dawn have significantly expanded their program from a monthly workshop offered at two separate LightHouse sites to a weekly workshop. Over the past few weeks, Hands-On has gained a huge following. The most attended workshop thus far has been the COVID-19 and Emergency Preparedness course. The instructors discussed what essential items should be included in emergency “Go Bags,” how and where to obtain these items, and, perhaps the most relevant and requested ILS tip: how to make simple and effective face masks from items found in your home.
“We have had to create the virtual workshops with a short turnaround time; we did not have the curriculum for Zoom workshops in our back pocket, so we had to improvise quickly.” says instructor Dawn Leeflang. “’In Case of Emergency” was initially going to focus on basic Emergency Preparedness, but we expanded it to include shelter in place guidelines related to the current COVID-19 emergency, including making a simple face mask.”
Hands-On regular, Cheryl P. says, “I find the program very informative. It keeps me up to date on information. Being at home right now, it’s just me. So, this also gives me the opportunity to connect with other people.”
Many students agree, the ability to connect and interact with one another has been just as valuable as the skills and information discussed in the workshops. There has been a noticeable increase in participation. Some students with limited mobility or travel options have found the virtual workshops more accessible than the traditional in-person workshops. “The expansion of online services and programs has helped LightHouse staff and students stay connected, informed, and contributed to the blind community.
“Virtual workshops are something I definitely want to continue developing and offering, moving forward,” says Leeflang.
If you are learning about Hands-On for the first time and are kicking yourself for missing the essential “At Home Face Masks” instructions, the steps can be found by following this link to a PDF created by ILS instructor Dawn Leeflang.
Here are the topics for the Hands-on series throughout May:
May 1: A Taste of Cinco de Mayo
Come celebrate Cinco de Mayo with us as we prepare a few festive foods. Dawn Leeflang will do a demonstration of how to prepare quesadillas while explaining the basics of stovetop safety. Afterwards, Bobbi Pompey will demonstrate methods of making the perfect Margarita, complete with flavor variations, non-alcoholic versions, and techniques for pouring shots non-visually. Lastly, students will prepare their own pitcher of refreshing Aguas Frescas! Please come to class with a pitcher or container to store your Fresca, sugar or some other sweetener, and fruit. Fruit can be fresh, frozen, or canned.
May 8: Folding Frenzy
Brush up on those tactile skills while learning how to make beautiful and practical creations. The class will begin with methods of folding dinner napkins into decorative shapes and end with folding paper into whimsical origami. Students should come to class with a fabric dinner napkin or a heavy duty paper towel, one set of silverware, and paper. You can use plain printer paper, colored construction paper, wrapping paper or any other paper you have around the house.
May 15: Sewing Made Simple
Join us as we tackle sewing basics like threading a needle and putting on a button in this week’s installment of Hands On! Sewing has several practical uses and even more fun ones. We’’ll start with the basics and by the end you will have made a soothing hot/cold compress for your eyes. This compress can be put in the microwave or the freezer and be used to ease headaches/migraines or as a way to relax and unwind and decompress. Materials for this workshop will be mailed out to you, so in order to receive your materials, you must RSVP before noon on Friday May 8.
May 22: Keep it Cute: Maintaining Your Appearance as We Shelter in Place
Hair salons, barber shops, nail salons, waxing businesses, and other grooming/beauty related establishments are now closed as we all shelter in place and do our parts to flatten the curve. But, that does not mean you have to go without. Join us as we discuss several ways of maintaining your personal appearance from the comfort of your own home. We’ll cover adapted techniques for applying nail polish, trimming split ends, and tweezing your eyebrows. Making a DIY scrub that can be used on your face, hands, or body will be our closing activity. Please be prepared for class with measuring spoons, sugar, honey is desired and oil. Olive, coconut, avocado, jojoba, vitamin E, grape seed, or any other oil that can be used on the skin can be used for this scrub.
May 29: Hands On Hiatus
There will be no Hands On Workshop this week. Join us on June 5 for our next workshop.