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My name is Skylar Mortensen, and over the course of the 2019 Spring Semester I have

served as one of four interns at the Milledgeville Life Enrichment Center. The center was

established in 1967 by a group of mothers who began the program for their children in the

basement of a local church. Through the years and through an ample amount of funding the

center has grown to be what it is today. The staff consists of some of the most amazing people

one will ever meet. The Administrative team consists of, Mrs. Barbra Coleman; Executive

Director, Renee Lassetter; Business Operations Director, Jennifer Banker; Business Office

Manager, Deborah Bush; Administrative Assistant, and Shirley Forrest; Quality Assurance

Coordinator / DDP. The Personal and Social Services team is made up of, Janice Daniels;

Consumer Rights Representative, Marcilla McCormick; Dayhab Program Coordinator, and

Robert Sanford; Activity Center Program Coordinator. The Creative Expressions Studio is run

by, Paige Ellington; Visual Arts Coordinator and Sara Whitten; Preforming Arts Coordinator.

But going further and on a more personal basis there is a team of staff members that have shown

me the love language of service. They show up with a smile on their face every day, they have

welcomed all the interns and myself with open arms. And they have shown us all overwhelming

trust. This staff in Day Hab is Mr. Charles, Ms. Carolyn, Mr. Ronnie, Mr. Nate, Mr. Spencer,

Ms. Keke, Ms. Shawntavious, Ms. Sharonica, and Ms. Quitta. This staff in the Activity Center is

Jarcilla, Heather, Ms. Sheryl, Mr. Mike, Mr. Joe, and Mr. Terry. The seventy plus individuals

that we serve all possess intellectual disabilities (IDD). The disabilities that I have learned more

about since this semester is Downs Syndrome, Dandy Walker, Ring 14, Autism, and others. I

have formed a relationship with every one of these LEC participants. The mission of this

nonprofit program for adults with IDD is, “to support and maximize the quality of life for adults
with Intellectual Developmental Disabilities through person- centered, community-based

programs and services.” The purpose is to deliver the opportunity to engage in meaningful life

experiences within the community that embraces personal dreams and desires for individuals

with IDD. The Life Enrichment Center promotes safety, health, and wellness, person- centered

approaches for desired goals and outcomes, and a focus on quality of life. All of the services

offered at the center follow federal and state regulations, Medicaid waiver guidelines, and the

accrediting organizations requirements. The program that I have worked closely within is the

Day Hab Program. In regards to this specific program it is designed to assist the persons served

in acquiring, retaining or improving self-help, socialization, and adaptive skills required for

active community participation and independent functioning outside the individual’s home.

Description of Experiences

My role as an intern consisted of partnering with the other Public Health intern; Jenni

Norris. We accompanied each other in coming up with ideas of how to leave our mark on this

program with using our knowledge of Public Health. We explored a number of different ideas

that we could possibly implement, but we believed that the best option would be to rearrange the

DAY HAB room for the benefit of each individual. The idea of creating 24 personalized

communication boards came to mind. However, when taking into account the course of 480

hours this was not realistic. After gathering feedback from staff, we concluded that the change

that was to be made needed to be bigger than what we had previously imagined. We took a step

back, and we decided to spend a few weeks interacting in DAY HAB, getting use to the schedule

and picking up the likes and dislikes of everyone in the room. Then the idea of turning the entire

room into a sort of communication board was what we knew needed to happen. Our vision was

to employ sensory stimulation activities throughout this room to facilitate impromptu desired
activities through personal choice. The most rewarding part of my internship has been the

relationships I have had the honor of forming with these LEC participants. There is nothing that

can compare to the feeling when entering the center on an early morning to be greeted with the

biggest smiles, the biggest hugs, and the most abundant form of love. The aspect which I found

to be the most difficult has had to have been finding and coming up with the items to add to the

room. Jenni and I went in with one idea, but the idea grew and as the idea grew so did the

demand for other purchases. Keeping up has been difficult only due to the time period we have

had between actually knowing what we have wanted to purchase and the deadline for the grant

availability. However, if I could do it all again I wouldn’t change a thing. I wish I had done less

painting, and more interactions with the individuals at the center. I enjoyed painting the signs for

the Day Hab room, and I enjoyed painting the materials for the rest of the center as well. But the

days I painted the most were the days I wish I could have sit and learned more about these

beautiful people, however, being able to serve them in the way of changing this room is

something I wouldn’t change for the world.

Perception and Evaluation of the Internship

This internship experience did not meet my personal expectations, it exceeded them. I

expected to come in and make a simple change and then hang out with the clients for the rest of

the semester. But our site supervisor challenged us and we turned something small into

something beyond what we had ever imagined. When entering this environment, it was

important to form a relationship with the staff because we were entering their territory and we

were a sort of threat because we were coming in and changing their space. They became open to

our ideas and contributions when we involved them. We asked for their input, and we

implemented their request. The supervision from the site supervisor was beyond impressive.
Every day Barbra would make it a point to see our progress and she would work with us and

guide us in directions that were beyond what we had imagined. She believed in our image even

when it was hard for us to see it ourselves. As for further supervision from Natalia Jones, who is

the Georgia College internship supervisor, she assured us the entire way that we were headed in

the right direction. She supported us and she was there whenever we needed to take time and be

reminded that we were headed in the right direction. I believe my experience could have

improved in the sort of assurance. Every day Jenni and I would put our all into the Day Hab

program and we knew everyone was so thankful for our work, but there is such beauty in

assurance and taking time to assure us that we were doing a good job. In the end, we have been

showered with thanks, but I believe if we had received that throughout the way we would have

gained ample motivation. I would recommend this setting to future interns in a heartbeat.

Because we came here to leave an impact, and we did, but we are being impacted as well. This

has been an experience that will stay with us forever and the memories will always bring us joy.

When being asked if I could consider a career in a setting such as this I have to say no. I know

these individuals have brought me more joy than I could have ever imagined but when I see

myself in entering a career I don’t see myself in this type of environment. I see myself still

working with this type of individuals and still helping people, but in a space, that is more so

advocacy based with a goal of expanding research.

Internship Preparedness

I believe I was extremely prepared academically for this placement. I knew why I was

there and I knew my goal and how to get there. I felt the most prepared in areas of aid and

implementation. I felt least prepared in the sense of experience. I have worked with individuals

with IDD for quite some time now so I was confident in working with them. But I what I wasn’t
confident in was the legalities that come with an environment such as this. I have been able to

grow to understand them because with experience I have been able to grasp everything to a better

ability. The course that I have found to be the most helpful to my internship placement has to

have been Health Promotion Program Planning. The skills I learned in this course that I have

been able to take with me and that have remained relevant is the sense of community. In this

class I was taught the value of the people around us and how we hold the power of impact. This

experience of this course goes hand and hand with the work I have been implementing at the

center. As to what GCSU/School of Health and Human Performance can do to better prepare

Public Health students for real life application of public health concepts and for future

employment. We are always learning the difference between people groups and how not every

one person is the same. But we never go into detail about the special needs community and the

different disabilities that are there. I feel it’s so important to address this to students, especially in

this field.

Internship Performance

I was able to acquire a number of skills and an ample amount of knowledge during my

experience here at the LEC. I received a few certifications as well as training. I am now certified

in HIPPA Privacy, Client/ Patient Rights, and Abuse and Neglect of Individuals with IDD. I am

trained in reporting critical incidents, accidents/ injury, Common Psychotropic Medications and

their side effects, and Seizure Management Procedures. I have learned the beauty in difference

and I have learned that the field of helping people is the route in which I am led to go. During my

journey this semester I have found myself satisfied with all of my performances on assignments,

projects, and presentations. When honestly rating the overall quality of my work I would give

myself an 8.6/10. Due to the fact that I gave my all into this facility, I have grown to love it and I
find myself willing to do anything for it. However, I have made mistakes along the way, I

painted the wrong emblem for the wrong night, I took a little longer than expected to paint a few

boards, and I have had to ask the same questions over and over again. But we all make mistakes

along the way and it has been so important to grow from them. I need to sharpen, hone, develop

to be as successful as possible after graduation in the concept of confidence. I need to learn to be

sure of my work and I need to be proud to share my work.

Personal/Professional Insights/Benefits

This internship has impacted my personal goals of service and giving my all to this type

of community. It has also assured me where my heart is, because I love these clients with

everything I have in me. When comparing this experience to personal growth I have been able to

show myself what I am capable of doing and who I long to work for. Over all through this

experience I have gained insight regarding the population of adults with special needs. And I

have seen first-hand everything they are capable of and how eager they are to help our

community. When bringing this, and implying it to our semester long hard work it’s so

rewarding to look back on everything that has brought us to where we are now. Our process

evolved over the semester as a direct result of input from Day Hab program participants and

staff, Life Enrichment Center Leadership, Music Therapy students and interns and touring

programs with similar services. Financial and in-kind support from the Best Buddies Engage

Grant, local business and a local church helped to enable us to make our vision a reality.

However, we could not have done it without the support of parents and friends who donated

countless hours to work alongside our Best Buddies Team. The room is host to several sensory

stimulation walls, a music center, a horticultural center, an Art center and a media center. All our

hard work paid off on the morning of the reveal when Lithia stated, “I like this, this looks good,
I think this is going to work.” To have our hard work validated by a young lady who will be

utilizing this room was priceless.