Conway Human Development Center residents were able to celebrate Independence Day alongside their caretakers and family members during a fireworks display held on campus Tuesday night.
Having the opportunity to provide residents with this inclusive event further allowed staff members to boost their morale and allow residents to enjoy a fun-filled, festive night just as any one else would on the Fourth of July.
"This is definitely an event that inspires and uplifts our residents," Juan Alfaro, the facility's total care team department head, said following the evening fireworks show.
Just as other families across the state, and across the nation for that matter, will be out enjoying cookouts and watching fireworks burst in the sky, Alfaro said it was import to CHDC and Department of Human Services staff to provide that holiday staple for CHDC's residents.
Centered at the campus's heart, fireworks shot off into the sky above the facility, leaving intricate varieties of color for the residents to watch and for many, to enjoy with their family members by their sides.
As the fireworks crackled off into the night sky, residents were posted at stations across the center, many watching in awe from their back patios.
The ability to host this performance for residents and their families helps the center's staff further provide the residents a sense of belonging, CHDC Superintendent Sarah Murphy said, noting the fireworks display has been a campus favorite for many years. This year's event, she said, was made possible through support from the Arkansas State Elks Association.
"We are very thankful for this organization and the many great things they accomplish around the state," she said. "Our residents really enjoy the fireworks, it is something they look forward to every year."
Having a central location to set off the fireworks display provided a home-like environment, as several residents clustered together outside their rooms. Alfaro said this also made it easier for staff members, noting many who helped out with Tuesday's event volunteered their time to make this event run as smoothly as possible for the residents.
"A lot of these guys came up here on their day off or had already worked a different shift today," he said. "Many of the residents couldn't come outside and take part, so their caretakers stayed inside with them and these guys volunteered their time. They really care."
This event helped increase the bond between CHDC residents and staff members as they stood in awe together and enjoyed the evening light show.
"The annual fireworks display never disappoints," Murphy said. "The Fourth of July is an exciting holiday, it's about independence and those who fought for our freedom. It is only natural that we enjoy fireworks to celebrate such an important holiday. This event — and others like it — helps further the relationship between residents and staff as this is something they can watch and enjoy together."
Alfaro said watching the residents as they laughed and smiled throughout the fireworks display reminds staff why they continue to make these events possible for the residents.
"Many of the residents were laughing and smiling through the entire performance, and that's what DHS is all about," he said, noting the residents should never be excluded from enjoying the events and traditions that so many others participate in.