Pandemic Prevents Mom and Daughter from Seeing Each Other; Easterseals Southern California Helps Them Reunite
Before the pandemic, Georgia Sims and her daughter Jocelyn enjoyed spending quality time together every week, sometimes twice a week.
But in March 2020, that all changed as Covid-19 spread.
"I was devastated. I thought I wouldn't see her anymore," said Georgia.
Because of the stay-at-home orders, Georgia went an entire year without seeing Jocelyn, who has cerebral palsy and communicates through a communication board. Their only way to interact was over the telephone, which proved insufficient for this mother and daughter, who are very bonded.
As Covid-19 restrictions eased, Sims visited Jocelyn occasionally in person. But with pandemic protocols, and because she doesn't drive, those visits were few and far between.
All this mother wanted so desperately was to see her daughter more frequently.
And then Easterseals Southern California (ESSC) provided a solution.
Jocelyn, who has attended Adult Day Services in Glendale for years, was provided a JayPad by ESSC, and so was Georgia -- tablets they could use to communicate virtually.
The JayPad is an Android tablet with specialized software, created by the company HealthJay Inc. Originally, it was marketed towards seniors, but at the beginning of the pandemic the team at ESSC's Technology Lending Library program, which provides technology and training to people with disabilities throughout Los Angeles County, realized how beneficial it could be for Easterseals participants.
ESSC and Healthy Jay Inc. started working together. Eventually, the JayPad became an assistive device used by many participants, including Jocelyn and her mother.
"There's a digital divide in the disability community that only got highlighted more during the pandemic. One of the reasons for that divide is access, but also just using it [technology]," said Reese Peterson, the director of ESSC’s Technology Lending Library. "The highlight of the JayPad app is the auto-join feature that allows barrier-free communication so Jocelyn can use it.”
Since March, Jocelyn and Georgia have communicated through the JayPad at least once a week. They play games, and Georgia watches Jocelyn participate in painting, drawing, and creating.
"I was about to cry [when she saw Jocelyn for the first time over the JayPad], and she was too," Georgia said. "I enjoy seeing her and I enjoy what Easterseals is doing for her and me. I really appreciate them from the bottom of my heart."