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ATU679 – Watch Us Farm with Janice Argarwal


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Your weekly dose of information that keeps you up to date on the latest developments in the field of technology designed to assist people with disabilities and special needs.
Special Guest:
Janice Argarwal – Executive Director and Founder – Watch Us Farm
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—– Transcript Starts Here —–

Janice Argarwal:
My name is Janice Argarwal and I am the Executive Director, Founder of Watch Us Farm here at Zionsville, Indiana. And this is your Assistive Technology Update.

Josh Anderson:
Hello and welcome to your Assistive Technology Update, a weekly dose of information that keeps you up to date on the latest developments in the field of technology designed to assist individuals with disabilities and special needs.

I’m your host, Josh Anderson with the INDATA Project at Easterseals Crossroads in beautiful Indianapolis, Indiana. Welcome to episode 679 of Assistive Technology Update. It is scheduled to be released on May 31st, 2024. On today’s show, we take a trip just a little north of here up to Watch US Farm. We will talk to Janice Argarwal, the Executive Director and Founder of Watch Us Farm, and learn about all the great things they’re doing to help individuals with disabilities gain job skills and a bunch of other cool stuff.

We’re also joined by Amy Barry from BridgingApps with an App Worth Mentioning. If you’re looking for a transcript of today’s show, that is available at

Our transcripts are generously sponsored by InTRAC. You can find out more about InTRAC at Also, don’t forget, listeners that this is really your show. So if you ever have a suggestion, a comment, maybe a suggestion for someone that we should have on the show, please do reach out. You can email us at or call our listener line at (317) 721-7124.

As always, listeners, we thank you so much for taking time out of your day to listen to our show. Now let’s go ahead and get into an App Worth Mentioning with Amy Barry from BridgingApps. Take it away, Amy.

Amy Barry:
This is Amy Barry with BridgingApps and this is an App Worth Mentioning. Today’s app is called Pillboxie. Establishing a home-based pill program and medication routine can be complicated and confusing with many people taking multiple medications prescribed by multiple physicians dispensed at multiple times and containing multiple instructions. Medication management is a common source of strength for patients and caregivers.

The Pillboxie app can be part of a simplifying and organizing process. It has several features that make it stand out from other pill management apps. The first feature is that is very user-friendly. Organized into two sections, one side is dedicated to the current day’s pill schedule while the other is dedicated to the current day’s pill. The other side has been very cleverly designed to look like medicine cabinet shelves. The shelves visually house the user’s various medicine containers. Simply tap on each individual labeled pill bottle to access its specific information, including scheduling, dose history, reason for taking, and a general instruction box.

The general instruction box allows for needed flexibility to add more information. So it’s a great idea to include the pill dosage, the prescribing physician’s name, refill, date, and any precautions. Perhaps one of the strongest features of this app is its ability to include the actual appearance of each medication. This is done by either using a photograph or by selecting a pill shape and color from a provided list, each medication’s picture then appears both on the label of the containers and the medicine cabinet and next to the drug name on the daily pill schedule. This visual connection is critical in helping persons with memory and cognitive challenges. Changing or updating the pill picture is easy and it’s important ability if using generic medications that often change in appearance at every new refill.

Other well-designed features include push notifications organized into one notification by dispensed time, an excellent email, email exporting ability using a very clear template playlist, multiple profile options, a lowest price shopping search using Google, GoodRx, and short how-to videos accessible within the app. The caregiver that we trialed Pillboxie with loved its use as a teaching self-management tool for her cognitively challenged loved one. Each Sunday, her loved one sits down to refill his morning, noon, and evening pillboxes for the entire week. Pillboxie replaces her handwritten medication LogHide that is included with her attempt at pill sketches and descriptions. Now a mobile device sits next to his pill work area where the Pillboxie app serves as a real visual guide to help.

The Pillboxie app is currently $2.99 at the iTunes store. This app can be used on iOS devices. For more information on this app and others like it, visit

Josh Anderson:
Listeners, today is the last day of May, and summer is just around the corner. And in Indiana, this means that crops of all kinds are going to be popping up around the landscape. We are super excited to have Janice from Watch Us Farm here today, where they’re growing a little more than just produce. They’re working to grow new opportunities for individuals with disabilities and we cannot wait to dig in and learn more. Janice, welcome to the show.

Janice Argarwal:
Thank you. Thank you for having me.

Josh Anderson:
Yeah. I’ve been looking very forward to this interview and getting to learn a little bit more about Watch Us Farm. But before we do that, could you tell our listeners a little bit about yourself?

Janice Argarwal:
I am an old timer. I’m a pediatric physical therapist. So I have been in this field for about 40 years and I always thought that I was that good therapist that understood families with special needs. But, 24 years ago, my husband and I had our son, Alex, and it changed my whole perspective of how hard this journey is, and how much we need help. My husband and I are kind of a force to be reckoned with. And so, we decided, at that point, that as we move on this journey, whenever something needs to be accomplished, we’re not just going to fight for ourselves, but we’re going to fight for the other families. I can’t even imagine having a child with special needs, without having medical backgrounds. It was very easy for us to move through a system and to get the services we need.

We knew how to fight. We knew how to work with the insurance companies and the government and yada, yada, yada. But a lot of families don’t have that. A lot of families don’t have that background knowledge. So we’re now taking that exact same knowledge and moving this forward as we look at programs for adults after high school. What happens after high school? Because most people don’t even know that they’re there, let alone that they should have jobs and housing and they still want to have friends and they still want to have a community. So we are trying to reinvent that here in Indiana.

Josh Anderson:
And that brings us on to kind of the reason that I got to meet you today and got to have you on the show. So let’s kind of start at maybe the beginning. Where did the idea for Watch US Farm come from?

Janice Argarwal:
Good question. In the early nineties, I was living in England training at a place called the Bobath Centre. I had been a therapist for the developmental teams in New York and Boston, so I was very familiar with all of the systems. But when I went to England, the host family that I was living with, they had a child with quadriplegic, CP, all the limbs were involved and they would tell me how he’s training to go into the media, where his housing’s going to be, and how they were working to make him independent. And it changed my whole perspective because in New York and in Boston, we’re thinking, “Okay, after high school we’re just working on getting them housing and we may be working on getting them a day job day programs, but these families were actually working for a goal and they could see that goal.”

And then we went to Germany. My husband is from Germany, and the same thing. They would have these communities where these adults with special needs, they had jobs, the communities, the corporations were bringing the jobs to the facilities and they had housing, so they had that transportation. All of their friends were there, and these are three and four generations old. This is not a new thing to them. And I just came back with this kind of, what is going on? Why do we not have that here in our country? We moved to Indiana and had our son, Alex.

And Indiana is very deficient in all of these things, even more so than many other states. And I looked at that as an opportunity thinking, “Well, okay, so we don’t have it. How can we build it? How can we build something that is better than anybody else? Let’s take it. Let’s put together a pilot program and let’s make this a program that we can move around the country so that when a family has a child with special needs, they have that hope, they have a goal to look for, as opposed to just getting them through school.”

No, one day my son is going to be going to work in a lab. He’s going to work in the legal firms or something like that, and he’s going to have a job here and housing here and his friends are going to live around him. And he’s going to be in our community because he belongs to our community, and community should support community. So that’s how we started this.

Josh Anderson:
That is awesome. Well, I think we’re probably going to spend the rest of the time just talking about all the amazing things that Watch Us Farm does, but let’s just maybe start with what services do you offer, and I don’t even know if services is the right word to put in there, but maybe just talk about what Watch Us Farm does.

Janice Argarwal:
So essentially, what Watch Us Farm does is teach adults how to work. That’s the hardest part. You don’t know how to work until you actually work. So we’ve gone through different levels of things. We’ve done things like lawn maintenance, trail maintenance. For a long time before COVID, we were doing all the trails and park work here in Zionsville. So working with landscaping, we do organic gardening. Three years ago we started building… We found an old greenhouse, they donated it to us, we rebuilt it, and we have a 7,000 square foot greenhouse where we do hydroponic gardening. We create this nutrient dense produce and it’s from seed to processing, including the cleaning and all the things go with it. They can come in and they learn how to work and they learn how to take pride in their skills. One of the fun things I love is we have a fiber arts group.

We have weaving big looms, floor looms, and we have people that can weave beautiful scarves and rugs and dish towels sitting on these looms that we get all set up for them. And you can imagine that quite a few of our kids, especially with autism, have a lot of OCD and they see that, and these are works of arts that these kids do. We do cards. We’ve done electronics where we take and we make outlets that an electrician will take to the job site and just be able to put them in.

So our range is kind of diverse. It’s all space-based, so we’re limited in our space. So as we now have been granted land, we’re going to increase that space, which will increase the job opportunities. And a lot of our jobs come from our companies around here who say, “Can you do this?” I’ve got a person in it and he says, “Can you guys assemble and disassemble?” And I’m like, “Well, right now I don’t have space, but when we have space, we absolutely can do this.”

So people are starting to see us and asking us can we do this and that, and I know that we can find people that want to do what we’re talking about. It’s just a matter of getting the space and then bringing them in and letting them learn the different skills and figuring out which job they want. My goal is to have hundreds of jobs someday that when a person comes into our program, they can walk around and see all the different jobs and go, that’s the job I want to try. Because that’s what it’s like for us. We all have lots of choices and I want these adults to have choices, but the only way we can do that is by increasing the space and then the talent around us that will help train them.

Josh Anderson:
Oh, most definitely. Most definitely. And as you talk about teaching people to work. I know it’s the skills of the things you talked about. What are some of the other skills of working that folks learn when they come to Watch Us Grow?

Janice Argarwal:
It’s Watch Us Farm.

Josh Anderson:
Oh, Watch Us Farm. Goodness gracious, I’m sorry, I’ll fix that.

Janice Argarwal:
Oh no, no, no. It’s really called Watch Us and we’re on a farm. So we are growing, we are learning. Watch us learn, watch us grow, watch us evolve. So the first thing is learning to show up. Hygiene, dressing, being appropriate the way you look, what you’re doing, make sure your hands are clean. That’s an important part. And then the job, doing the job to the highest level daily. That is hard to teach someone. When they first come in, they’re all excited. Six months down the road, it’s not as exciting. Well, can you continue to work six months down the road? Can you continue to do you clean up after yourself because your parents aren’t there to clean up after you. During lunch, do you engage with other people at lunch? For some of our kids, that’s kind of hard. So we encourage them to come to the table even for a few minutes, tell us what they’ve done, what happened this weekend.

What we’re trying to do, in all aspects of work, is also bringing that community. But work is not just the actual task itself, it’s all the things around that task that make the job appropriate. Because if you go onto a job site and you get upset and you run, they’re not going to know what to do. So we work with, okay, so when something goes wrong, how can we take a second, take a breath, sit down, relax. You are not allowed to walk away. You need to stay here. Take that break and then get back to work. That’s a hard thing to teach some people because their first thing is they’ve always been allowed to take… It’s okay, you’re doing the best that you can do. You’re doing fine. Well, a job employer doesn’t want you to do the best you can do. They want you to be able to do the standard that they expect from you.

That’s a hard thing to teach, but it’s crazy. As soon as they get over that little precipice of like, okay, you know what? In order to get paid… We pay real money… In order to get paid, I need to actually do the job. And you know what? I can do that. It’s an hour here, it’s an hour there. I take my breaks. I can do this. You see people evolve.

An example. We have a girl right now and she came to us and kind of frumpy and she had a very low self-esteem and she has her issues. We all have our issues. But as she learned to work and she learned to increase the time that she works and her quality of work got better, she started walking, she started losing weight, she started combing her hair. She now puts bows in her hair, she looks beautiful, she’s lost 58 pounds. She’s excited to come to work and to engage with everybody and talk with people. That was something she didn’t have before at this level. That’s how we teach people to work. We teach them to become a part of our society and actually make a difference.

Josh Anderson:
That’s great. And you teach them pride. Pride in their work and I don’t want to say reason to get out of bed. But reason to go to work and we’re lucky enough that we get to work in nonprofits and things that hopefully make a little bit of a difference. It’s maybe a little easier to take pride in that kind of work and really do your absolute best every day, but once you can find that in work, there’s like you said, it translates into so many other parts of life of just having that pride and it does make it much easier to do your hair, put bows in it, and really kind of present yourself in the way that you want to and maybe the way that, unfortunately some folks don’t get to see themselves for so long.

So that is awesome and I love that you kind of talk about the whole person and really everything that they can do. Then as you talked a little bit about expanding in space and everything, do you have anything cool coming down the pipeline or anything neat coming up?

Janice Argarwal:
Yes, we do. So we’ve started our capital campaign and that means we have to raise a lot of money, but a lot of that is I want foundations and people in corporations to see what we’re doing and invest in that. We’re starting it. The Chandler family here in Zionsville own a place called Hickory Halls. It’s a polo field. And they’ve given us August 2nd. It’s a Friday night. We’re going to need sponsors to have sponsors come out and watch a night of polo. We’ll have tents up and catering and a great family fun night at halftime that a plane comes by and drops candy. For corporations that want to invest in this, it’s a great time to bring out some of your favorite clients and just have a beautiful evening. They come out, you get VIP parking, you go to your tent and you get to watch.

It’s just a great evening. But that’s going to be our real kickoff so that we can start raising money to start building our first real campus so that we can build upon just what we’re talking about. So that there’s a center in a community where when families have these kids, they can go. We’ll have a farm-to-table restaurants, we’ll have walking paths, and maybe some petting zoos. We want to have a big orchard where people can walk around, pick apples. Those are things actually a lot of families can’t do. You can’t go to these fall festivals when you have a kid with sensory issues.

We want to be that place that people can come to and they just find that relaxing moment and they go, this is where my child wants to be someday, or this is where we can get the information. We have the people that work for me, they’re smart, they are retired directors of vocations at Ben Davis or physical therapists or occupational therapists or fiber art specialists. We want to bring in specialists that have the time and the talent and the knowledge to help these families out so that as we advance their child, even at young ages, because we are part of the Medicaid waiver program. Even as we work advance the ages, we get them the resources and the knowledge so that their child can achieve the most that they can achieve.

Josh Anderson:
Yeah. And not just that. I feel like you also give the folks choices. It’s not, you’re going to come in, you’re going to do one task and we’re going to stick with this. It sounds like there’s so many different opportunities, and whether it turns into that they continue to work at Watch Us Farm, or they take those skills onto somewhere else, I feel like you’re really giving them a lot of opportunity to go out and be independent and make their own choices on their own, and I think that’s completely invaluable and something you don’t always see in programs.

Janice Argarwal:
When I was in Germany, I’ve been working with a facility called Regens Wagner, there are seven of them throughout Germany. Their campus is like what we want to create, and we were there visiting a couple years ago, and they have room after room of different job opportunities where people can work on machines or they have washing, drying, pressing sections where all the hotels and host houses send all their linen. And people, they have a five-year waitlist. People in the community want to invest in this, but they’re just probably 80 different times of jobs. And I say to Hubert, the gentleman who heads it up, I’m like, “So how do you know when an adult comes into your system, what job?” And he says, “I walk them through and they look at every job out there, and then at the end of the week or so, they come up and they say, ‘this is where I want to work.'”

That cut me to the core. They had opportunity after opportunity to look at different jobs right there, and they got to choose which one they wanted to try. That is not something we get to do. And then the fun thing about that is after they learn the machine or whatever, they had the opportunity, like Audi, they’ll work on a machine from Audi in their facility and they will know that machine. The quality control will be brilliant. And then they can actually have the opportunity to go work at one of the Audi facilities and they’ll get them housing down there.

Because they’ve already learned how to be fairly independent in their housing and in their job, and now the only thing you might have is some anxiety or whatever that comes with that. But then they move them into the actual facility. And the success rate is significantly higher than anything we’ll ever see because they have completely prepared that person and he got to choose the job he wanted. And then once he was a master of that, then we moved him into an unfamiliar territory, but with a familiar job and they’re successful.

Josh Anderson:
So awesome. Yeah, because it’s just getting, like you said, getting to choose what it is you want to do, getting all the skills, getting everything you need so that when you go, you’re really just set up for absolute success. There might be a few little things to work on, but when you know the things like the back of your hand, it makes it so much easier. At least brings that kind of chance for failure way, way down. That is absolutely super cool. If our listeners would want to find out more about Watch Us Farm, about the event coming up in August, or any of that kind of stuff, what is a good way for them to do that?

Janice Argarwal:
Go to our website, We are pasting more and more information on it. Honestly, my number’s on that site. Give me a call. Do you want to be a sponsor or you want to figure out ways that you can help? Or if you’re an employer who someday wants to work with us, give us a call. We’re so open to that. We offer visits. Come out. Meet us at the farmer’s markets. Brick Street market is next weekend in Zionsville where we’ll be selling all of our fiber art stuff, come out, buy stuff, but also talk to us, see what our adults are doing.

Where we offer weaving classes, come and see what our adults are doing. You can sit on a loom and in a couple hours you can make a big rag rug. But become a part of it. See what’s going on. We always welcome that. We want our community to be really a part of this because the only way this is going to grow is by that. And honestly, someday I’m going to be gone, but my son is not, and I want this to continue for him and the next generation and the next generation. And that only happens when a community takes ownership of a place and says, “This is who we are.”

Josh Anderson:
Yeah. And you could not be more correct. We will put links to that down in the show notes, Janice, so our listeners can definitely go and kind of check that out. And especially for the folks here in Indiana and in the Zionsville area. Definitely do just check them out and check out all the great work that they do there.

I cannot thank you enough for coming on the show, for telling us about all the amazing things that you do and just the planning that goes into it, and I don’t know the skills and abilities that individuals get to come out of the programs with and everything is absolutely invaluable. So thank you so much for coming on the show and we can’t wait to continue to watch Watch Us Farm grow in the future and all the great things that it’ll be able to do.

Janice Argarwal:
Josh, thank you so much for having me. And letting us tell people what we’re doing, what great things are happening here in Indiana.

Josh Anderson:
Do you have a question about assistive technology? Do you have a suggestion for someone we should interview on assistive technology update? If so, call our listener line at (317) 721-7124. Send us an email at or shoot us a note on Twitter at INDATAProject. Our captions and transcripts for the show are sponsored by the Indiana Telephone Relay Access, Corporation or InTRAC. You can find out more about InTRAC at

A special thanks to Nicole Prieto for scheduling our amazing guests and making a mess of my schedule. Today’s show was produced, edited, hosted, and fraught over by yours truly. The opinions expressed by our guests are their own and may or may not reflect those of the INDATA Project, Easterseals Crossroads, our supporting partners, or this host.

This was your assistive technology update, and I’m Josh Anderson with the INDATA Project at Easterseals Crossroads in beautiful Indianapolis, Indiana. We look forward to seeing you next time. Bye-bye.



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