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D'Vine Path students adjust to coronavirus pandemic


Last updated 8/27/2020 at 5:01am

Students at D'Vine Path are adjusting to the COVID-19 pandemic through the vocational education they receive at the ranch. The pandemic has caused many businesses and programs to shut down, but D'Vine Path has remained open.

D'Vine Path, a program created by Lenila Batali, focuses on helping special needs adults. Special education ends when the student turns 22, but D'Vine Path continues to educate these students through vocational and life skills training after their graduation. This training provides the students with more opportunities. Along with their agriculture and viticulture training, D'Vine path provides training in hospitality and the arts, as well as workshops taught by guest speakers.

Batali started the program eight years ago, and her family has lived in Fallbrook for 20 years. Her daughter, Tiana Batali, has autism spectrum disorder, which inspired her to start the program focusing on life skills for special needs students after graduation.

"They're the ones that inspire me," Batali said. "I didn't find my art career rewarding, but now I get to see these students grow every day. That brings me satisfaction."

Being able to see students achieve their goals and become successful brings her joy as well, she said.

Through this program, the students identify their goals and learn how to pursue them. Two students have gone on to pursue careers in viticulture after working with the vineyard at D'Vine Path.

Batali said, "Everything aligns because they learn what they're looking for. They're finally climbing the right mountain."

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the students had to acclimate to new protocols, and they struggled with the lack of social interaction. At D'Vine Path, their curriculum is predominantly completed outside working in the garden and in the vineyard, so the students and advisers could remain socially distanced and wear face masks. Batali said she is very thankful to be able to provide this service during the pandemic when social interaction is extremely important for special needs individuals.

As the program grows, Batali said she is happy to see the positive changes in these students. She said the parents have told her the students are coming home excited and enthusiastic, looking forward to telling their parents what they learned that day.

"We're finding that our current students are so welcoming to new students," Batali said. "They've found their tribe."

She said many of the students consider the ranch their second home. Batali said that it brings her so much pride and joy, knowing that her program is truly making an impact in each of the students' lives.

Batali explained that one Thanksgiving while she was on vacation with her family, a student emailed her and asked, "Can I go spend some time at the ranch? I need to relax and recharge."

"This student was having a hard day, and their first thought was to go to the ranch to calm down because D'Vine Path brings comfort to each and every student," Batali said.

To learn more about D'Vine Path, contact Lenila Batali at [email protected]


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