Published: August 8th 2006August 8th 2006
The model returns
and you all thought (maybe hoped) my modeling career was going nowhere
As many of you may already know, loud and indiscreet eaters are the source of some serious personal vexation for me. Working with mentally and developmentally disabled people through Sprout forces me to work on controlling the aggravation and moving on with my meal. For those of you who have never eaten a meal with a large group of mentally disabled people, I will so kindly describe the enjoyable experience. First off, almost none of the participants chew with their mouth closed. (And to be honest, I am more worried about them keeping the hole at the other end closed at the restaurant so I have to choose my battles.) Now I don’t mean to be picking on the population, but my way of handling situations is to look back on them and laugh instead of cringing in mental torture. A typical breakfast conversation on a Sprout trip might go a little something like this: “Hey Eleanor, how is your bacon?” “Good” “Glad to hear it… do you think you could remove it from my forehead now?” Some meals are like unintentional food fights as different types of food and drink are shot across the table, landing on either a neighbor
or their plate of food. As a leader who does have to eat, you try and tell yourself that it is just adds seasoning… you know like Mrs. Dash’s new line of pre-masticated “community spices.” But oh well, even Jesus taught people to share their food so it must be a good thing.
Yup that’s right, I’m back leading trips of mentally and developmentally disabled adults with Sprout. My first trip was one of the hardest. My co-leader and I were given 3-4 days to write, produce, and direct a show of 6 mentally disabled adults based on the movie Grease. I imagine it’s quite difficult to put on a 25- minute performance with professional actors when they only have a few days to rehearse, but we were working with people who couldn’t remember a 5 word sentence 20 seconds after you told it to them. We did have one lady with an incredible memory which helped us a lot as she would scoot other people into position and help them with their lines. Luckily, many of the participants were very familiar with the movie and knew the songs quite well so we just had to help out with
choreography (or organized convulsions). We presented the show in front of 150 other participants at Sproutstock on Saturday night. It was definitely a success as the crowd loved it and the participants performed amazingly. My co-leader and I were like proud parents to see all the hard work pay off. We were also still slightly stunned that we hadn’t wanted to kill each other. How often can complete strangers succumb to that kind of stress and only hate each other for one afternoon and then get over it?
Sproutstock is a large gathering of Sprout groups to have a weekend of fun, food, and bathroom accidents. It was once again held at the Hudson Valley Resort near New Paltz, NY. Since my group showed up early to rehearse, we shared the hotel with another large group up till Friday. There was actually another group of mentally disabled people, but the comparisons to Sprout end there. It was a group of 150 participants and about 7 or 8 staff. It was often hard to tell who was staff and who was a participant because many of them were just about on the same level. If not, they looked and acted
like they had just started the work-release program from the local prison. Their participants were constantly wandering around lost and came to me for help all the time, but even I couldn’t find their staff. I found one of their participants washing his hands in the urinal in the bathroom downstairs. After I explained to him that the urinal cake was not a bar of Lever 2000 and got him cleaned up, I dropped him off at the hotel’s front desk where they were already flustered trying to find out who was in charge. It was disturbing and sad to see how the participants were treated and neglected. It also gave me a new appreciation for how things are run at Sprout and how much care is given to the participants.
There was a second group sharing the resort during the weekend of Sproutstock. It was a convention of Mel Gibson’s fan club… oh wait… no…never mind… I screwed that up… sorry, it was the Association of Orthodox Jewish Scientists… same thing though right? For the most part they were very friendly with our participants and things went fairly well. And it was a nice touch to be parking
the 15-passenger vans between all the Lexus’ and Mercedes.’
So my first trip is done with and I have survived quite well besides having sore feet, a bad stomach, and a severe case of sleep deprivation. But that is part of leading trips and I can’t wait to leave tomorrow for Maine. Look for the smiles on their faces in my pictures and you will understand why I do it and love it so much.
There are more photos below