Community Living’s Adult Recreation Drama Club performs a yearly play. And, Chris, always tries out for the play. You may recognize Chris when he’s on stage because he has an apparatus around his neck.
“It was Jodi’s idea to use the iPad in the play,” Dave Bazzell, Chris’ dad, said. The apparatus, which holds Chris’ iPad, was first introduced in 2013 when the Drama Club presented “Annie Jr.” This allowed Chris the opportunity to have a speaking part, and Chris was excited.
Sue Bazzell, Chris’ mom, downloaded the speech application for her son. “The app is great,” Sue said. “It has everything from different foods to being able to program our own information. We are still finding new things and learning together.”
Chris continues to get more and more speaking parts with his character(s). That’s right, he sometimes plays two parts! He smiled ear to ear when the thought of possibly having a lead role could happen. “Chris would like that,” Dave said. “But, he also understands baby steps.”
Just as the other performers have to practice their lines, Chris also practices. “Chris and I set up his lines on the iPad,” Sue said. “We have to work to get the iPad to say the correct pronunciation of the funny sounding words.”
Once they got the pronunciation down, Chris practices hitting the correct button for his part. “We like to have fun with the buttons,” Sue said. Each button represents something in the play that would help Chris to know when to hit his line button. “It’s not any more challenging to have a speaking part,” Chris said, using his iPad.
Part of his line memorization was also memorizing the lines of the performers before his turn. “Chris can hear and understand everything around him,” Dave said. He communicates by sign language, but he is starting to use the iPad more.
Drama Club meets most Mondays from mid-January through the week of the play. “It’s a big commitment,” Dave said. “And, the staff is really good about showcasing everyone.”
In addition, the performers meet once more after the play for their cast party. They all come together to watch the final performance, which is the first time they see it from beginning to end with no cuts. “It is cool,” Chris said.
Chris knows a lot about commitment. He has worked for BCI in St. Peters for 16 years. “I do lots of things,” Chris said. His favorite job is packaging the nail polish remover.
Athletic just may be Chris’ middle name. He plays basketball and softball for the Panthers through Adult Recreation Services. But, he also grew up playing sports. He likes watching sports on TV, too. “He likes sports,” Dave said. “He really practices hard and he gets a lot of play time at the sporting functions.” He even received the Outstanding Achievement for Softball in 2008 and for Basketball in 2012 at the annual Sports Banquet.
Both Dave and Sue agree Community Living has been great for Chris. “There are so many activities for him to get involved with,” Dave said. “He has made some great friends and he gets his space which is good for him. We all need that.”
Some of Chris’ other favorite activities in the program are going to the St. Louis Fox Theater, Six Flags, sporting events and dances. “All the activities add so much to his life,” Sue said. “He enjoys what’s offered and the staff is great.”
And, Chris wanted to add, “I think Jodi and the whole staff do great things.”