“Although our vulnerabilities and the external threats to our wellbeing are in many ways nothing compared to those of the persons whom we serve, it is important that we recognize our own before dealing further with the vulnerabilities of those whom we serve.
We are all vulnerable to breakdowns in our personal values. Sometimes these can be due to how we feel and what we are experiencing within ourselves; at other times we can be part of a system that makes it harder for us to respond to our shared values. If a caregiver is afraid of being hurt, he/she then becomes more likely to use restraint to control violent behaviors. Or, if a caregiver is depressed, then it is extremely hard to bring joy to others. If we are being beaten and de-valued at home, it is hard to bring non-violence into someone else’s home.
Many of our vulnerabilities are worsened by lack of adequate training and hands-on supervision. Some caregivers are quite isolated and seldom have the opportunity to discuss their problems and search for new responses to challenging situations. It is critical that caregivers recognize their weaknesses and find ways to overcome them. Community leaders need to listen to caregivers and find ways to offer support and encouragement.
Caregivers need to find their own self-worth from themselves, talking frequently, sharing their anxieties, and pointing out their goodness. Our own worth has to be generated from within ourselves. We need to form strong communities.
The question of burnout seems to be always present. Some caregivers give up and attribute their burnout to poor supervision, working in violent settings, receiving little guidance, or low pay. Since we are not only teaching feelings of companionship, but also a sense of community, it is important for caregivers to look at themselves, question their reality, and search for ways for themselves to feel safer, more engaged, and more valued. The first step in this is to step back and examine those things that make us vulnerable.
Let us take a moment to reflect on these aspects of our lives — recognizing these will help us understand better the needs of those whom we serve.”
~Excerpt from John J. McGee’s “Mending Broken Hearts” — CPLS Newsletter.
Gentle Teaching has become a main part of my life. During my university career, I have done many presentations and projects based on gentle teaching because it applies to so many different areas of study; whether it be Psychology or Kinesiology and Health Studies. As Assistant Home Team Leader, I dedicated most of my support times (and outside support times) to making sure the people I support are physically healthy. I continue to do activities to keep the guys active and engaged, but allow them to decide which activities are right for them! I pre-cook and freeze meals so that it is easily accessible for the rest of the team. This is done so that supports aren’t tempted to buy unhealthy food! Since this started, I have continued to encourage others on the team to do the same as well. As a result, the team has all begun to contribute to grocery shopping and cooking wholesome meals. This was not so they could be “fit” or “skinny”, but to better compliment one’s overall quality of life. I am a strong believer in how physical health affects one’s mental health, thus my pursuit of a masters degree in sport and exercise psychology.
Although I recently stepped down as Assistant Home Team Leader, I have continued to keep many of the same responsibilities. The title of ATL was not my motivation to be a leader! I will continue to be passionate about caring for the people I support, as that is the foundation of Gentle Teaching. Their companionship and presence in my life is enough to want to help with the quality of it. COR has shown me that I am capable of my own academic accomplishments. Sport and Exercise Psychology is not popular in Canada just yet, but that doesn’t mean I can’t continue to follow my interests and turn them into my passion. Even though I have stepped down from my ATL role, supports still contact me when certain issues arise; they still want to hear my advice and experience. I love this! For the first time, I feel like I am a mentor. I like knowing it is not my leadership status that motivates them to ask me for help. I feel as though they ask because they know I am effective at solving problems while still keeping one’s emotions in mind. It has become a very empowering experience. I love the leader that COR and Gentle Teaching has enabled me to become!
Kyla, COR Support
Recently featured in the SARC Spring Update, Ben Morris, Comic Book Club Facilitator, had this to say:
“Comic Book Club has been a breath of fresh air. Not only do we get to reacquaint ourselves with our favorite characters and stories old and new, but we get to share them with like-minded friends in a fun and creative environment. Whether we’re reading, story-telling, or just taking out an hour of the day to let loose and laugh, The Club is where it’s at!”
For more information, contact Ben: firstname.lastname@example.org
COR, in partnership with a number of talented folks, has worked to develop Tell It Like It Is, a Sexual Health and Wellness Educational Curriculum for diverse learners. In an effort to bring it to a wider audience, COR has partnered with the Saskatchewan Association for Community Living (SACL) and the Saskatoon Sexual Health Center to assist in the delivery of Sexual Health and Wellness Training across Saskatchewan.
Using a compassionate approach and taking into account the diversity of learners, each module of the curriculum offers various learning strategies, worksheets, and activities. The curriculum covers sexual health topics including, but not limited to, the physical body and changes, boundaries, healthy relationships, dating, intimacy, sexual orientation, safer sex practices, and understanding sexuality.
Providing honest and clear sexual health education to individuals living with a disability enables them to make informed choices and decisions about their lives. Being equipped with the knowledge of personal rights and an understanding of consent helps individuals recognize signs of coercion or abuse and provides the tools required to protect themselves. Through Tell It Like It Is, our aim is to empower organizations serving people with disabilities to provide sexual health education and information to those individuals they support.
“This project has been a journey…. we hope that through partnership we can continue to build on the course content while continuing to provide a rich educational experience for diverse learners across our province.” – Michael Lavis, COR
Check out an article about the initiative in SACL’s Spring Edition of Dialect and download the course curriculum here for FREE!
For more information, email Marlene Yaqub at: email@example.com