Aaron Oberne has been associated with the Norfolk Neighborhood and Leisure Services Therapeutic Recreation Division for the past several years – first as a participant in a Wednesday bowling class taught by Steve Errante and now as a valuable volunteer for several programs. Aaron has overcome his disability to become a very good bowler by designing strategies that allowed him to circumvent the neurological obstacles of cerebral palsy.
Aaron’s determination and developing maturity prompted Mr. Errante to ask him if he would be interested in helping out during the bowling class. He did not hesitate to lend a hand, which involved monitoring scoring and assistant an older participant who is a quadriplegic with limited movement. Aaron assisted in bringing the participant his bowling ball, adjusting the ramp, using strategies to improve bowling, and giving positive praise.
As Aaron grew into his role as a bowling assistant, Mr. Errante felt he should become a full-fledged volunteer with the Therapeutic Recreation Program. Once again, Aaron responded positively to the idea of being a volunteer and became involved in several of Mr. Errante’s classes and programs. His responsibilities include equipment set-up and breakdown, lending assistance and encouragement to individual participants during specific activities. Low Impact Aerobics, Sports Night, and Movie Night are just some of the classes he has been a volunteer. He shared his personal workout routine with others and gave them proper techniques in using hand held weights.
Recently, they were fortunate to have a large screen TV and sound system donated to the TR Center. Mr. Errante was attempting to connect it together to use for their movie night and had difficulty with wiring and set-up of the two units. Aaron came to the rescue and figured out wiring and using the TV/DVD menus, which made for a successful evening for all.
Aaron is very well read and became a real asset when they would go on outings to museums and historical sites. He would be their personal tour guide and was able to answer many questions asked by the participants. This past June they traveled to New Jersey for a three-day camping trip. He was involved in every facet of the trip. Along with the usual camp set-up and breakdown, Aaron helped the campers learn how to gather the right type of wood for the campfire, marshmallow roasting, and hot dog grilling. He gave insight on their nature walks, helped campers make and hang bird feeders, and pitched in cooking and cleaning up afterwards. He was in charge of his tent making sure to notify staff if anyone needed assistance or helping them find the bathroom in the dark.
Aaron is assisting Mr. Errante this fall in his classes, as well as assisting other instructors. This year alone, Aaron has contributed more than 1000 documented hours of service. He will be greatly missed when he attends college next year.