Helen Kaplan Center residents enjoyed petting and feeding farm animals from Long Island Pony Parties and Petting Zoo

Farm Animal Encounter At Helen Kaplan Center

Helen Kaplan Center residents enjoyed petting and feeding farm animals from Long Island Pony Parties and Petting Zoo. Citizens Options Unlimited’s Helen Kaplan Center Intermediate Care Facility (ICF) had plenty of outdoor activities for residents, staff, and families to enjoy. 

Residents and staff enjoyed an all-around sensory experience with a Petting Zoo brought by Long Island Pony Parties and Petting Zoo, music by Paulie B Acoustic, snow cones and cotton candy, and a Mental Health Awareness table with essential oils, sensory toys and educational materials about mental health. 

Sensory experiences like these provide fulfilling and enriching experiences for the residents at Helen Kaplan Center, which serves 56 people with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (I/DD) who are medically frail and require 24-7 support. 

At the petting zoo, residents sat underneath tents to protect themselves from the warm sun, as animal handlers from the petting zoo brought the silkie chickens, a Gold Laced Polish Chicken, goats, bunnies, sheep, and Daffy the Donkey, to the residents and staff, who got to feed and pet their new fuzzy friends. 

“We try to develop activities for the residents so that they enjoy community with each other and the staff,” said Marta Garavito, the Director of Helen Kaplan Center. “Staff gets to enjoy it at the same time, and when residents get that vibe from the staff, they relax themselves and enjoy it too.” 

“We try to incorporate all kinds of therapies, and it’s working,” Marta said. “Everybody is relaxing and enjoying it.” 

Animal therapy helps reduce boredom, raise spirits, increase activity through movement and play, assuage loneliness through companionship and social interaction, and improve overall well-being. 

About Citizens Options Unlimited:

Helen Kaplan Center is one of two Intermediate Care Facilities (ICF) operated by Citizens Options Unlimited. An ICF is a community-based home that provides clinical and supportive care for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) who have medical and behavioral complexities. 

These facilities undergo an annual audit conducted by regulating bodies. These include, but are not limited to, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the New York State Department of Health (NYS DOH), and the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD).

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