Backyard Movie Night Under the Stars


“Two of our ladies asked over and over about going to the movies – even when we explained that movie theaters were closed because of the virus,” said Program Coordinator Gilian Washington. “So, I thought, ‘why not bring the theater to them?’”

With everyone’s social life impacted by the pandemic, many of us have had to get creative in how we safely spend leisure time.

For four women with intellectual disabilities who live in a May Institute residence in Western Massachusetts, one of the things they miss the most is going to the movies.
Gilian and her colleagues decided to improvise with a movie night under the stars. With help from the residents, they created their own movie theater in the backyard, complete with a box office, snack center, and a “big screen” on the fence.

“It was so great,” said Gilian. “And, it was a teachable moment.” Staff used the movie night as an opportunity to help the women practice skills they can use in the community at some future date: patiently waiting in line, purchasing tickets, and choosing and paying for snacks (with play money).

After buying their tickets and treats, the women seated themselves in the backyard “theater” and enjoyed watching several animated movies.

“We had a blast! The women really felt like they were at the movies. I know they were all having fun, but I think I had even more fun than they did,” Gillian said laughing.

“I’m so blessed to be in this house,” said Cherlyn, one of the residents. “It feels like we are a family.”

Come see all the photos from the night.