Mercer Day Program participants regularly bask in music and nature

Mercer Day Program prides itself in offering eclectic experiences and opportunities to participants, while focusing on skill development, wellness activities, and fun!

Situated on the campus of Mercer County Community College, the program can accommodate 27 participants. The center’s location and layout ensure that attendees are able to pursue interests and goals that interest them specifically, while still allowing for connections to form among the group as a whole.

Each day, the program’s schedule is packed with activities that get attendees involved. In some cases, these activities take place at the program. Many planned events take place outside of the program, however, and give participants regular opportunities to engage in the community.

“We’re really excited for the weather to break,” Jaime White, director of the and Mercer and Mt. Holly Day Programs, said. “The guys absolutely love to get outside.”

The program’s location and setup allows participants to make the most of the warmer weather present in spring and summer. One warm-weather activity that brings joy and educational opportunities to Mercer Day participants is Project Grow (This will link to new PG story from MaryAnne).

The program’s activity calendar is packed with things taking place at the program and things happening in the community. Program staff and participants plan activities outside of the center at least three times each week. On Fridays, the group goes to the Special Olympics gym to do some exercising. Other popular destinations for day trips include the Quakerbridge Mall, Hickory Corner Library and Dunkin’ Donuts and the local bowling alley.

One activity that spreads positivity at Mercer Day is the regular visits from Jim Gaven, the founder and CEO of Key of Awesome Music. During these visits, Gaven brings his guitar and a host of other small instruments and sets to making music with all of the participants. Taking requests, Gaven offers a space for all attendees to connect with music and join in creating something expressive. In situations where there are fewer present attendees, Gaven will walk groups through the songwriting process.

“Coming out to the day programs is very meaningful for me,” Gaven said. In addition to Mercer Day, Gaven also visits the Mt. Holly program on a monthly basis. “The participants are always so welcoming and kind.”

Beyond the special events and activities, the program center is organized to provide staff and attendees with ample space to carry out activities that happen each day. Plentiful ‘bonus rooms’ allow for participants and staff to have one-on-one time if needed, and also provide spaces for activities like computer lab time and arts and crafts projects.

“It’s amazing, I really enjoy working with our individuals and alongside our staff,” Tracy Normil, project manager of the Mercer day program, said. “It makes you want to come to work everyday, I really love what I do.”

In the coming months, White and Normil are investigating ways to increase volunteer and prevocational service opportunities at the day program, White said.