SHOPS announces new program for people with diverse abilities

·2 min read

ST. MARY’S – With its new Passport to Fun program, Sherbrooke Opportunities Society (SHOPS) is hoping to connect with more people who identify as having diverse abilities, but who may still feel uncomfortable gathering in groups post-Covid.

SHOPS Executive Director Mallori Nickerson says the mail-out – announced last week for roll-out early next month – is an activity package, one filled with games and challenges designed to help people who choose to stay at home remain physically and mentally active.

“It’s something that the executive board and I have been thinking up for a while now,” she said. “At SHOPS, we understand first-hand how the pandemic has affected mental health and just how we go about our daily lives. A lot of us still don’t feel comfortable gathering in groups and going out into the community for non-essential reasons, and we totally get that.”

SHOPS, established as a charitable organization in 2018, engages people with diverse abilities (including, but not limited to, mental health, intellectual, vision, and mobility) with programs that help bolster their wellbeing.

“Back in 2021, our doors were closed to group activities but we offered outreach programs, where our programs manager delivered personalized packages to our regular participants’ homes (curb side),” Nickerson explained. “Even though we couldn’t have them physically at SHOPS, they still had the opportunity to build skills, practice hobbies and challenge their interests with a box of everything they needed to carry out a project that interested them, instructions included. SHOPS Passport to Fun program is meant to be a sort of spin off of that.”

In December, SHOPS had about eight regular client-participants on site at various times at his centre in Sherbrooke. Said Nickerson: “It’s no secret that the pandemic has increased anxiety and decreased motivation, so our hope is to help change that. We also hope to connect folks at home with our current participants at SHOPS by starting a pen-pal program as part of this initiative.”

For more information about the free Passport to Fun program, phone (902) 318-3223 or email ed@shopsonline.ca.

Alec Bruce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal