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As a new strain of coronavirus (COVID-19) swept through the world in 2020, preparedness plans, masking policies and more public policy changed just as quickly. WVXU has covered the pandemic's impact on the Tri-State from the very beginning, when on March 3, 2020, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine barred spectators from attending the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus over concerns about the virus, even though Ohio had yet to confirm a single case of COVID-19.

For Quarantined Adults With Disabilities, 'Brighter Days Boxes' Bring Entertainment, Connection

Courtesy of LADD
LADD is distributing Brighter Days Boxes to the people it supports.

While many are thinking about plans for when the stay-at-home order is lifted, those who are more susceptible to the coronavirus are hunkering down for a longer quarantine.

At LADD (Living Arrangements for the Developmentally Disabled), an organization that provides or assists with housing for adults with disabilities, staff and team members are delivering "Brighter Days Boxes" to clients. The bundles include books, comic books, puzzles, games and crafts.

"A lot of our clients are very vulnerable in the medical sense so we really have to take strict measures and (they have to) remain in their residences," says board member Kim Vincent, adding clients will likely have to stay under quarantine much longer than the general population. "We looked at what was coming and realized it would be hard for everyone but especially hard for them."

People supported by LADD, she points out, are used to being social - going to jobs, meeting with each other, going on outings or attending programs. Now, they're stuck in their homes.

"They have regular routines and it's all been disrupted. I think it's particularly hard for them because they like routines and we don't know when this is going to end and it's hard to understand. As much as we're trying to wrap our heads around it, I think it's even harder for them."

Vincent is spearheading the Brighter Days Box effort, raising money and coordinating donations. Joseph-Beth Booksellers allowed LADD into its store to shop for the items privately, and Vincent says LADD is trying to spend its dollars entirely with local businesses. Collections are underway to add gardening supplies to the boxes.

Another board member, Terri Hogan, has a son supported by LADD. She's part of the effort, too.

"I realized there were thousands of people in our community just like my son who are out of their routine and not understanding this new normal," Hogan says. "I purchased a ton of stuff I thought would bring people joy and keep them busy. Then invited my neighbors to drop off things they thought people might love. The whole thing just took off naturally."

The first packages went out over the Easter weekend, delivered, of course, by the Easter Bunny.

"Everybody was very happy and looked forward to doing whatever activities they were given," Vincent says. "The idea is that they're going to share some of the things, and when they read the book they're going to pass it on. All of it will be used over and over again."

Kathleen Sheil has been part of the LADD community for about 13 years. She says she's doing well during the pandemic and tries to stay busy. She and her roommates got a Brighter Days Box delivery with art supplies.

"It's been kind of boring but we're just trying to have fun with everything and build our home lifestyle," she tells WVXU in an email. "It helps to have a support system of family and also friends. I'm used to giving lots of talks about self-determination to different groups around the city and out engaging in the community so I'm excited to get back to that eventually."

LADD supports more than 500 people currently. The agency is still working to reach everyone with a box. The organization is accepting donations of gift cards and new or gently used games, gardening equipment, puzzles, books with lots of pictures, DVDs and crafting supplies. Items, which will be sanitized, may be dropped off at 3603 Victory Parkway.

Tana Weingartner earned a bachelor's degree in communication from the University of Cincinnati and a master's degree in mass communication from Miami University. Prior to joining Cincinnati Public Radio, she served as news and public affairs producer with WMUB-FM. Ms. Weingartner has earned numerous awards for her reporting, including several Best Reporter awards from the Associated Press and the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, and a regional Murrow Award. She enjoys snow skiing, soccer and dogs.