Skip to main content
Opportunity Orange stock photo used in the flyer for the book club

Opportunity Orange Book Club continues in pandemic

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Opportunity Orange Book Club is providing a unique way for students to stay connected with community members. 

A part of programming offered by the Institute for Developmental Disabilities, the book club offers OSU students the opportunity to interact with adults across Oklahoma who have intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).

Jennifer Jones, an associate professor in the department of Human Development and Family Sciences and the co-director for the Institute for Developmental Disabilities, said the club serves as an inclusive community.

“Book club is about creating opportunities for social connectedness across diverse groups,” Jones said. “Too often, individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities are segregated in classrooms, workplaces, and communities. Segregation robs all of us of opportunities to learn from each other. Book club, whether on campus or via Zoom, provides a platform where students and community members come together as equal members of a group.”

Mattie Kiser, a recreational therapy junior, knows firsthand the enjoyment that comes from participating in Opportunity Orange. As one of Jones’ students, she learned about the club and joined this year. 

“It's a good opportunity to get connected and stay connected to the OSU community through COVID and get to know new people within my class and also the community,” Kiser said. “I wish I would’ve gotten connected to it sooner.”

In a typical year, adults with IDD come to campus, and club meetings are held on the Skywalk in Human Sciences, open for any passing faculty or students to join and learn alongside the community members. When COVID-19 hit, Jones knew the book club would need significant changes to continue. 

She spent all summer planning how to protect members’ health and adhere to safety precautions while promoting social connectedness. The club transformed from meeting twice a week in-person to 15 virtual meetings throughout the week. She called on former graduate and undergraduate students from across the United States and the world to facilitate the clubs. With more opportunities, the clubs are smaller, allowing for deeper connections between students and community members.

“Sometimes limitations force us to be more creative,” Jones said. “I am not belittling the losses we’ve all faced with COVID, but the limitations instituted by the pandemic forced us to get more creative and that, in this specific instance, was a good thing.”

Elisha Elder, a Stillwater community member, said she’s happy with the new format. She loves the book "New Love, Spilt Milk, and Potbellied Pigs," and the virtual setup allows her to participate from the safety of home.

“I love to read, and I was willing to do the book club if I wasn’t going to be asked to get out of the house and go somewhere,” Elder said. “I was happy to do it that way.”

The Opportunity Orange Book Club is an expression of the university’s promise to better the lives of Oklahomans, Jones said. 

“Our land-grant mission is about bringing the university to the public,” Jones said. “I’ve been amazed at how that’s happened through the book clubs and Zoom.”


STORY BY: Kylee Sutherland | Communications Intern

MEDIA CONTACT: Mack Burke | Editorial Coordinator | 405.744.5540 | 

Back To Top
SVG directory not found.