2nd Story, RSI doing their best

Staying active on and off video chat app

Submitted Photo From top to bottom, Katrina Leintz; from left to right, Larry Hanson, Nancy Toth, Lynette Deaver; Debbie Jaicks and Heather Harmon play bingo on Zoom on the evening of May 21.

Minot is made up of citizens of all shapes, sizes, ethnicities, abilities and characters. Everyone has been impacted one way or another by the coronavirus pandemic, but individuals with special needs have not been slowed down.

Katrina Leintz with 2nd Story in Minot said she calls the clients every once in a while to make sure that everyone is doing okay and asking them if they need anything.

She had been thinking about other ways to keep everyone active and bring them together somehow without being in the same room. One of their favorite activities is bingo. Leintz and other volunteers drive to the clients’ homes and drop off disposable bingo cards. To communicate, everyone uses Zoom, a popular video chat app that can be used on computers, tablets and smartphones.

During bingo, they go through different stages, such as single, double and blackout. The winners earn prizes, like decorative items, clothes and food items. Some restaurants in town were generous and donated gift cards or certificates to 2nd Story to use as prizes. The restaurants are McDonald’s, Burger King and Hardee’s.

Trisha Jessen is part of a North Dakota State University extension program and provides nutrition and health information. Jessen and Leintz both want the clients of 2nd Story to eat healthy during the pandemic when they are not able to get out to stay active.

Leintz mentioned cooking classes are being offered through Zoom, as well, showing them how to make some of their favorite dishes.

Some kinks are still being worked out about what they are going to be doing long term, since the pandemic doesn’t seem like it will come to a close any time soon. Movie nights are being considered, but Leintz is still trying to figure out the logistics to get it to work for everyone.

“We’re figuring out ways to keep everyone connected,” Leintz said. “We’re hoping that everyone stays safe.” The members are missed and the staff of 2nd Story can’t wait to see them again.

Rhonda Carlson with Rehab Services Inc. said the RSI clients are not being taken out to any indoor public places. The only exception is being taken for necessary medical appointments. Before leaving the home, Carlson and others who are taking clients to their appointments follow a pandemic checklist. The clients and the staff wear masks and gloves until they return.

Individuals with special needs do not always have the best immune systems, so all precautions are being taken to assure their health and safety.

The risk of getting COVID-19 is much lower outdoors, especially at parks. RSI clients and staff sometimes go walking in Oak Park to get some fresh air and get out of the house for a while.

In-house games have become more popular. Carlson said everyone plays a variety of different board and card games, like Uno, Jenga, Sorry, and Yahtzee. The game that seems to get the most heated is the card game called War.

“We usually know when they’re playing that game,” Carlson laughed. “We can hear them in the office.”

When going to the park isn’t an option, the clients play outdoor games. They have a supersize version of Jenga with bigger blocks to pull. There’s a game called Ladder Ball, also known as Blongo Ball, that everyone can play, even if they have any sort of movement restrictions or if they’re in a wheelchair. Ladder Ball is played by throwing a pair of golf balls that are attached to the ends of a strand of rope at a three-rung ladder-shaped fixture. The lower the bar that the rope wraps around, the more points the player receives.

Some clients with RSI have part-time jobs outside of the home and they have been getting a bit stir crazy without being able to walk around much or perform their usual duties. In order to keep them up to speed and retain their skill level, Carlson said the clients are assigned tasks like cleaning, organizing and shredding paper, and they are worked into the day.

The cooking classes are another favorite, especially on the days that they get to make their own omelets.

“They’re really big on omelets,” Carlson said with emphasis. The clients are usually involved with the cooking, but they get to do it a bit more often. They made a cake for someone’s birthday, as well, for a special dessert.

There are many factors that can disrupt a schedule, and the pandemic has ruined the pattern for all who are with 2nd Story and RSI. In the face of COVID-19, everyone is doing the best they can to keep everyone active, comfortable and healthy in uncertain times. Everyone involved is ready to get back together and try to regain some form of normalcy, whether it be great or small.


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