By Colleen Hannon with ValpoLife.com. Originally published on May 12, 2016. Article and photos reprinted with permission.
Life Care Center of The Willows in Valparaiso, Indiana, celebrated its residents during Nursing Home Week, May 9-13, with a Disney Day on Wednesday.
Residents participated in Disney-themed games such as a cake walk, a frog toss and a chance to shoot a ball through the wicked witch’s mirror from the movie “Snow White.” Snow White and Mickey Mouse were also invited to play games and take pictures with the residents.
“National Nursing Home Week takes the time to recognize those who do live in facilities. Doing something special for them. Just to try to do something exciting and different,” said Robyn Rutar, activities director at the center.
Each year, there is a different nationwide theme. This year’s theme was “It’s a Small World with a Big Heart.” With the help of volunteers, Rutar set up themed events all week long in celebration of residents, including Baseball Day, Pet Day, Pirate Day and Rainbow Day.
For Disney Day, Rutar wanted to bring the magic of Disney parks to Indiana for residents to enjoy.
“For me, going to Disney would be an amazing thing because I only went when I was four. And I know a lot of the residents here have been to Disney, have taken their children to Disney,” said Rutar.
“It becomes a part of your family as you’re growing up,” Rutar continued. “Once they come to a nursing home they might not get that experience to go again.”
Jennifer Vanderstar came to the event with her three daughters to volunteer for the first time.
“I really like talking to the residents,” said Jennifer. “Being able to talk with people who have been through so much incredible history is just probably my favorite part.”
She plans to volunteer again in the future.
Her daughter, Kendra Vanderstar, volunteered to dress up as Snow White to visit with the residents and even sang a song. Her beautiful voice received generous amounts of applause from the entire room of residents and volunteers.
Center resident Eleanor Bishop enjoyed the Disney event.
“I thought it was a lot of fun,” Bishop said. When asked what her favorite activity was, Bishop couldn’t decide. “I laughed through all of them,” she said.
Resident Edith Borst also enjoyed the event and laughed a lot, saying, “I think that it was wonderful.”
The residents of Life Care Center of The Willows and their families are invited to come participate in the last couple days of fun this week. Thursday, May 12th, is Pirate Day, when residents and families are welcome to participate in a treasure hunt. Friday, May 13th, is Rainbow Day, when participants will be able to do some rainbow art and enjoy some rainbow sherbet.