Saturday, September 28, 2013

Two Arc Directors on Recreation/Work Skills

Lance Scott is Director of Recreation and Socialization at The Arc San Francisco and one of the service designers of Friends Like Me, The Arc’s new after-hours recreation program. Terry Goodwin is Director of Employment Services. The two discussed the barriers to more healthy social opportunities for people with developmental disabilities and the benefits of work/life balance.

Q  Lance: What are the barriers that prevent clients of The Arc and other individuals with developmental disabilities from accessing recreation and social activities?
 Our clients have very limited spending money and many events and activities are too expensive. Plus, trying to figure out how to plan and pay for different events can be difficult—what bus do I take, where do I go when I get there, what should I expect? These are all things that can cause anxiety and fear. Also, going to new places can be intimidating if you are alone. A baseball game or an outdoor concert can be crowded, noisy and overwhelming.

Q  Lance: How does Friends Like Me address these issues?
  Friends Like Me is an after-hours program at The Arc that offers games, big screen movies, snacks and a movie night three evenings a week. We invite drop-in guests and encourage participation at whatever level you are comfortable with. Some clients like to sit and watch others play Wii baseball or bowling, others are real competitors. We encourage teamwork, mutual support and fun in a place that is safe, casual and comfortable.
Also, we have community outings twice a month. As a group, we’ll take the ferry to Angel Island or visit a museum or enjoy a ball game.

Q  Lance: How are clients benefitting from Friends Like Me?
 In addition to combatting the isolation and loneliness our cleints experience, we are also helping clients improve their social skills. Friends Like Me is an environment where communication, teamwork, problem-solving, conflict-resolution are all encouraged, and this build confidence. Plus, when you are playing a game, it reduces stress. We all need more work/life balance in our lives.  Ultimately, it provides a foundation for seeking out new experiences on your own. It’s a path to more self-determination and independence.

Q  Terry: Why are social skills so important in the working world?
A  Many individuals with developmental disabilities are fearful of busy work environments with new faces. Friends Like Me is a good place to learn how to be more flexible, how to better connect with co-workers socially and break down barriers.

Q  Terry: Can a better social life impact job performance and job satisfaction?
A  Sure it does. If you keep to yourself and don’t have an opportunity to learn how to interact with others, it’s very isolating and lonely. Plus, it can limit your growth potential and keep you from enjoying all that the work environment has to offer. Having the skills to be with others is normalizing. It fosters more interaction with co-workers and can lead to better performance on the job, and higher job satisfaction because you feel like you belong.  Everyone needs diverse experiences. It helps you understand the world and the importance of your place in it.


For more information about Friends Like Me, contact Lance Scott at To learn more about our Employment Services, contact Terry Goodwin at

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