Shanisha enjoys her job at Peg Perego in Fort Wayne. Improving her health through recreational therapy from Easterseals Arc has helped her enjoy it more.
Shanisha has been part of a four-person supported work group at Peg Perego for several months, working from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Mondays and Fridays
The problem she faced was soon plain: She found it difficult to stand for most of that shift.
“She would definitely have to take two or three breaks to sit down for a while. She would get real sweaty and tired,” said Chelsey Gooley, an Easterseals Arc staff member who works with the Peg Perego team.
That’s when a recreational therapist began working with Shanisha. A recreational therapist uses what people generally consider fun activities to help them improve their lives.
With Shanisha, the immediate goals were building her endurance, so that standing at work didn’t wear her out as quickly, and helping her lose weight. Exercising at the Y and walking in the park helped increase the time and distance she could walk.
Shanisha said she enjoys walking at the Y more than any other exercise. She appreciates walking at the Y because she feels safe there.
Shanisha also took a cooking class with her recreational therapist. She enjoyed it so much that she looked up a photo on her mobile phone of a favorite dish they made – lasagna soup.
The staff from Easterseals Arc who work with her at Peg Perego see the difference in Shanisha.
“Now she’s pretty much staying up the whole day,” Gooley said. “She’s been doing really great lately.”
“I’ve seen a considerable improvement,” said Tina Keffaber, the other Easterseals Arc staff member who works with the Peg Perego team.
Working with a small team means they all have to depend on one another to make their production goals each week. And the work of the Easterseals Arc team is, in turn, important to this Peg Perego plant.
Wendy Boger, the director of operations at Fort Wayne’s Peg Perego facility, said the workers from Easterseals Arc help in an important way.
“They do all the accessories for us, so I don’t have to pull people off the regular assembly lines,” Boger said. “They work really well.”
The Easterseals Arc teams primarily assemble and package the batteries that power children’s vehicles, but sometimes they shift to packaging gearboxes or building trailers.
That’s where Shanisha really comes through, for both Peg Perego and her co-workers from Easterseals Arc.
“She’s a very good worker. She’s one of the more flexible ones,” Gooley said. “She’s willing to do whatever we ask her to do. She’s pretty much mastered all the jobs we have there. I can depend on her for any of those.”