Conway Human Development Center residents were able to celebrate Independence Day alongside their caretakers and family members Tuesday as a fireworks display lit up the night sky above the facility.

This year’s celebration was the fourth since the event was reinstated on campus. Having the opportunity to provide residents with this inclusive event boosts staff morale and further builds relationships between residents, their caretakers and their families, CHDC Superintendent Sarah Murphy said.

The family-friendly, fun-filled night allowed residents at the facility to celebrate the Fourth of July just as others across the nation would.

Allowing family members of both the residents and CHDC employees was a first this year.

“We want it to really have a family feel and we know that our staff cares about our residents and that they care about their own families,” Murphy said of the decision to expand the event. “We thought it would be a great opportunity to bring our families together.”

Residents gathered outside their buildings, and some by their bedroom windows, and watched together as the fireworks display lit up the night sky above them.

Several clapped and cheered, and many laughed with joy as they watched the fireworks display.

Employees who brought their families also enjoyed the event while sitting outside with the facility’s residents.

Brittany Leding, an RN supervisor at the facility, brought her children and other family members to the event.

“This is a great event for the residents,” Leding said as her two boys eagerly awaited the fireworks show. “This gives them something to look forward to and participate in like everyone else.”

Staff Development Specialist Daniel Bailey said by providing this opportunity to residents, CHDC is working to make the lives of residents more like those out in the general public.

“It’s out of the ordinary,” he said. “This is something they don’t get to do every day and the rest of the public does. Our folks are part of the public. I’m so glad we’re doing this.”

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 watch with their family members by their sides.

The ability to host this performance for residents and their families helps the center’s staff further provide the residents a sense of belonging, Murphy said.

The fireworks display is a campus favorite, and was made possible thanks to 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.”

The best part of the event, Murphy said, was seeing how happy the residents were to take part in an Independence Day celebration and watch the fireworks display.

“Just seeing their facial expressions when they see the colors in the sky … that’s my favorite part,” she said. “It’s something that they see once a year, and they look forward to it.”