Adult Learners at the Library

Scotts Bluff County is home to around 1700 people with developmental or intellectual disabilities. Some of them live with their families, some live in group homes, and some live independently. Those that are able to work often do so, but those that are unable to work often attend a day program where they have a variety of educational and social opportunities.

Gering Public Library hosts a monthly program designed for adults with developmental disabilities called Adult Learners at the Library. Each month we have a class on an interesting topic with a book, a speaker, and oftentimes a craft. Some of our speakers have included registered dietitian Betty Kenyon, weatherman Bill Boyer, staff from the Riverside Discovery Center, beekeeper Ernest Griffiths, nurse Kristen Palser, Leann Sato from TriCity Stormwater, Gering Parks Director Amy Seiler and staff from the Panhandle Humane Society.

Because the Gering Library is not equipped to host a program with a number of disabled participants, this program is held in City Council Chambers. Last month we had about 48 people there, which is about the limit of what that room will hold comfortably.

Sometimes we mix it up. Last summer we toured Oregon Trail Stadium and took photos with Hiram. We also visited the Legacy of the Plains Museum to plant flowers for pollinators. Myra Dillman said, “When I helped the group with flower arranging I was amazed by how much talent they had. If the talent wasn’t obvious, the willingness to participate and have fun was!”

Once a year I host an Open Mic program where I invite local “celebrities” like Mayor Kaufmann, PRCA cowboy Orin Larsen, artist Mary Hunt and TV news anchor Angel Alvarez from NBC Nebraska to talk about something they are passionate about for 3-5 minutes. The class members discuss a variety of things, including coin collecting, riding a bucking horse for a living, latch hook, building models, costumes, South Dakota, fishing, art, quilting, and model trains. An attendee, Hayley said, “It was awesome hearing everyone speak! It’s always fun to hear what different people are passionate about.”also shared something they enjoy doing. We heard some great talks about a wide variety of 

This summer we are having a dance with a live band- Donny O and the Troublemakers, sponsored by Riverstone Bank, NTC Logistics and Wel-life. Band teacher Emily Hauck is going to teach us a tune on the Boomwackers, and at the end of June we have performer Michael Fitzsimmons coming from Omaha to do his “Drums of the World” presentation. In July, Tom Robinson will be talking about the night sky.

Cassie Baker, Vocational Supervisor of one of the groups that attend ALL said this, “Our clients look forward to these programs each month, and continue to talk about them and what they have learned long after they go home. [Programs like this] encourage learning and acceptance of adults with developmental disabilities and offer individuals a chance to learn fun and exciting new things in our community.” 

ALL is designed for adults with developmental disabilities, but the programs are open to the public, and anyone interested is welcome to join us. If you have something you would like to share with this group, or if you know someone who would benefit from this program, please contact Sherry at the Gering Public Library.

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