The purpose of PEP is contained within our mission statement: to promote the independence, social interaction, and employment opportunities for individuals who live with intellectual disabilities. We provide an inclusive environment where members read, learn, exercise, work, and engage with peers.
There are plenty of daily structured activities on the schedule that is specialized to help members grow and focus on their strengths. Leadership for these activities is provided by trained staff and volunteers, who also act as teachers and facilitators. The ratio of members to staff is typically 7:1.
One of the key beliefs at PEP is “a healthy mind and a healthy body.” Thanks to a grant from the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry, PEP has partnered with the Island Recreation Center for a special exercise program for those members who are capable of some degree of physical exercise. It is under the guidance of the Island Rec’s Adaptive Recreation Director. In addition, PEP offers outdoor exercise such as walking, doing light clean-up and even gardening. All the exercise is focused at keeping our members as mobile as possible.
One of the staples of PEP is our arts and crafts program. We provide individual activities for our member as well group activities. Included in our arts and crafts program is our ceramics program which allows our members to paint and fire ceramics which we have on display and for sale in our facility. We are constantly coming up with new aspects of the program to keep our members interested and excited about coming to PEP every day.
We offer cooking classes to teach our members basic cooking skills to enable them to be as self sufficient as possible. Some of our members live on their own and this is an important skill for them to learn and understand. We offer instructions on microwaving as well as stove top cooking and oven usage.
Whether a member is living alone or with parents or relatives, personal safety is a critical skill for or members to learn. We have a deep concern for each of our members. Doing everything we can to ensure their personal safety is of the utmost importance to us. Using utensils, burn avoidance, Bathroom safety, are just a few of the areas that we work on with our members
We have a strong literacy and Sign Language program that not only works with members that have trouble reading, but also focuses on our more advanced students working with them to learn how to get the most enjoyment out of the books they read. We ask our members to share some of their reading as well as to what kind of books they like. This establishes a collegial atmosphere within the program and is a well-liked activity.
This is a skill that is important for our members that are living on their own, but also for those living with someone. We teach the concept of money as an item that can be traded for things that are needed or desired as well as the mathematical aspect of money in the sense of denominations. A key teaching moment for our members is when they assist in selling the pottery they make at our facility or at local farmers markets.
We believe that no matter what a person’s skill level, the use of computers is important. We have all level of technology available to our members from iPad to computers to smart screens. We provide hands on training as much as possible for all skill levels. We focus on computer aided learning, to educational games to just pure entertainment.
Our members thrive on music of all sorts – both playing and listening to music. We have various musical instruments available to them including a piano, drums, etc. We provide basic lessons to anyone willing to try. We provide many opportunities for celebrations where we give members opportunities to sing and dance – focused around member birthdays, and various holidays.
Our STEM classes are offered on several days a week and involve both instruction in STEM skills and hands-on work with various STEM projects, such as solar powered vehicles, electrical circuits, or robotic devices that are programmed by students. PEP is one of the few facilities in the Lowcountry that offer a STEM/CS program, and one of only a handful nationally.