The Basics of Fun

The Basics of Fun

For ten years, Gail Gillian, MA, taught daily living skills to the Lighthouse’s clients who are blind and visually impaired. Over time, she realized that while acquiring these skills is vitally important, many of her pupils had a different and more basic need—socialization.

“People really struggle as they lose their sight,” said Gillian. “Their worlds become smaller, and they feel more isolated. They really just want to get out of the house and do something fun.”

Her assessment led Gillian to form the Fun 101 class, a bi-monthly program for exploring new activities. Held at the New Orleans location, Fun 101 aims to help participants stay active and socially engaged in order to lesson feelings of loneliness and isolation. The class also helps increase focus, and build self-esteem by realizing what can still be achieved despite vision loss.

“Fun 101 is a place where they can make their own choices,” said Gillian, who guided participants to choose between making a Mardi Gras mask, bracelet, or potholder at the most recent class. “Our only requirement is that they have fun.”

The group culture that has been established is not only fun but a therapeutic milieu, where clients can feel safe to discuss feelings and issues, should they arise. Gillian uses her training as an art therapist to support her students. “The process of creating art is therapeutic. It’s good to have my therapeutic skills in my back pocket.”

The Fun 101 class meets every second and fourth Wednesday of each month for eligible participants ages 55 and older. Gillian receives invaluable support from Cheryl Ward, who volunteers to assist most classes, often with her freshly baked rum cake to divvy up to attendees.

“It’s all about feeling good,” said Gillian.

For more information on Fun 101 or to sign up for the next class, contact the Vision Rehabilitation Department at 504-899-4501, ext. 238.