A Culture of Gentleness

The true integrity that Gentle Teaching is related to creates an atmosphere where people are truly loved, feel safe and can embrace a culture of gentleness. Given these elements of John McGee’s philosophy of Gentle Teaching as teams of support people at Creative Options Regina we have created positive places for supports and the people who we serve to grow together. My personal contributions to my team’s culture of gentleness relate to true caring for the woman I support. They are fostering positive relationships between her and the team who supports her, including myself, as well as promoting independence in unique ways. These elements of support help to create a culture of gentleness where everyone feels safe and loved.

Creating and maintaining good relationship among the team and with Angie is extremely important when considering the support to an individual and support to Support relationships, as well as the inter-reliance of both relationships. Coming into my employment opportunity with Creative Options Regina I thought that maintaining so many positive relationships was going to be difficult. This was not the case because the nature of Gentle Teaching with the four pillars (safe, loved, loving, and engaged) and the four tools (presence, words, hands, and eyes) helps everyone to maintain positive relationships that help us to better work together to provide support. With everyone working together, bringing ideas, concerns to one another and the ability to be honest with each other creates a positive team atmosphere for us as supports, which in turn results in the ability to provide better support.

Promoting Angie’s own form of independence and what she wants to do, as well as achieving what she wants is one of the best ways of maintaining a culture of gentleness. Whether it is playing dominoes all day or venturing out on the town, it is important that the people who we support have the most impute in their every day lives and that we are there to help them — not do for them. Another element that adds to Angie’s form of freedom is creating a home that truly reflects her personality. Whether it is blasting Christmas music in July, helping her decorate her house for holidays, or bringing my guitar, the thing we are there to do is help her achieve what she wants and be her companion every step of the way. Although her way of independence appears different from that of most people, what is important is that we create a culture of gentleness that helps her to be independent in a way that involves help from her friends. After all, the founder of Gentle Teaching John McGee stated:

“Loneliness is not freedom. Decision-Making is not freedom. Independence is not freedom. Autonomy is not freedom. These are only expressions of possible freedom. It is each persons becoming the author of his/her own life-project, but in the context of being-with-others, feeling at home with others, feeling safe within oneself, and feeling connected and engaged with significant others.” (McGee. 2.)

As a support person, I feel that being there for what Angie wants is my biggest contribution to creating a culture of gentleness

As a support person, I feel that being there for what Angie wants is my biggest contribution to creating a culture of gentleness.

Given the kind nature of Gentle Teaching, the goal of creating a culture of gentleness and kindness is made easier if one follows the teachings of John McGee’s philosophy. Two of the ways that I try to encourage this culture of gentleness are by fostering positive relationships between the team of supports, Angie and myself, as well as helping Angie to create her own form of independence. Encouraging this gentle community of people leads to a better experience for anyone who enters Angie’s house and more importantly improves Angie’s quality of life.

 

Andrew, COR Support

References:
McGee, J. Self-Determination as an Expression of Engagement.

 

Dylan Morin is an extremely hard working and dedicated citizen in the Regina community.

Dylan Morin is an extremely hard working and dedicated citizen in the Regina community. His days are filled with student life, working part time for Dutch Industries, and volunteering for one of the countless clubs he is a part of. He makes himself available whenever he is needed and never shies away from a challenge. Dylan is everywhere.

Dylan is dedicated to his studies at the University of Regina. He is currently in his 4th and final year of the Campus For All and plans to graduate in the spring of 2018. When asked what his favorite part of being in school was, Dylan was quick to reply, “Meeting new people!” He also mentioned that once he graduates he really wants to continue his studies at the U of R auditing classes, furthering his education and broadening his scope of knowledge. In his own words, “There is so much information out there.”

At Dutch Industries, Dylan has developed a strong relationship with a family run business that is designed to “bring quality to its customers for generations.” It is this mantra and his personal connection to his boss Greg that keeps Dylan passionate about his work. When asked what he does at Dutch Industries, Dylan said proudly, “quality control and shipping. I package bolts for farming equipment across North America (Canada and the US) as well as the UK and then prepare them for shipping.”

His days are filled with student life, working part time for Dutch Industries

Another reason why Dylan enjoys his work at Dutch is because “they are great at helping [him] balance his time with what is important and the things he loves to do.” Dylan has been an amazing advocate for Friendship Club, Best Buddies, book club, Special Olympics bowling as well as track, and the Wind On My Wings Sailing Club to name a few. Being involved in his community and taking part in special events around Regina is something Dylan truly enjoys. In getting to know Dylan over the past couple years I have learned that his passion for serving others is unmatched. He is a fantastic public speaker and enjoys pounding the pavement looking to connect people and organizations, alike.

Finally I asked Dylan what his dreams were once he graduated from the University. Dylan replied without hesitation, “I make a good pay cheque already. I plan to keep working and saving. I will probably take some more classes but I don’t think much will change.” To conclude our interview I asked Dylan what his dream job would be if given the choice to do anything in the world to which he replied, “I would love to be a flight attendant for WestJet. I think it would be amazing to fly from Chicago to LA or even Vancouver again!” Dylan, with your passion and dedication to doing a thorough job, the sky is the limit.

Thank you for modelling passion and dedication, Dylan! We could all learn something from you.

 

Ben Morris,

Community Education and Outreach

 

“It’s nice to have money. Especially when I want to buy something big.”

Austin is an example for us all to follow. Austin has set a goal, worked hard to learn the skills, spent the time mastering his skills and finally achieved his goal through persistence. He never once slipped up and was always prepared to try again when a challenge arose. Austin was not afraid to ask for help when he needed it and was always ready to help others with their challenges. When you put your time and effort into a goal, anything is possible!

Austin has been passionate about recycling for as long as he can remember. In his spare time he cleans up his neighborhood, and is always looking for ways to help out the environment. If there is a will there is a way, and Austin’s will is what pushes him to research all the different ways to reduce waste and maintain a healthy planet! That is why a job in the recycling field at Sarcan could not be better suited for him.

passionate about recycling

What started as a self-directed three month work term for his high school work experience class, turned into near full-time paid employment for the summer months. He was 16 when he set his sights on future employment with Sarcan and he is now 18 years of age still passionate and proud about this role.

Austin and his supports have started to notice a change in his self-confidence. His numeracy skills and ability to count and understand money has also improved and he has no problem reading a schedule or earning his own steady paycheck. Much of this success can be attributed to his job at Sarcan and because of this success his independence has also increased. He recognizes that he can set goals for himself and can succeed in attaining those goals. With this new heightened self-awareness and his independence and confidence levels elevating it is my hope that new and exciting opportunities will continue to present themselves to him.

In addition to being a great employee, Austin is learning to be a humbly responsible young man. To be fair, at 18 one doesn’t have a lot of expenses but he manages to save most of his earnings every two weeks. “It’s nice to have money. Especially when I want to buy something big.” He does however splurge with twenty dollars on pay day to celebrate his hard work. At such a young age it is rare to find this level of dedication! Austin’s next chapter in life is sure to be bright.

 

Ben Morris,

Community Education and Outreach

 

“I love cars,” he beamed. “I’d like to work with Monster trucks or clean Nascars. Maybe a mechanic.”

Ted is always on the go! Whether taking an evening to race around town on his bike, or working as a cleaner and detailer for cars and trucks at Morsky; Ted is always on the move. His attention to detail helps make him an extremely gifted artist and his resourceful nature rivals that of Macguiver. In the first couple minutes of getting to know him I learned that Ted is playful and loves to joke around which makes him a good friend and well-rounded teammate.

When asked what his favorite part of working at Morsky is, Ted confidently stated, “saving money for things and [his] boss. I really like to have money for things I want.” Ted is a cleaner and detailer at Morsky and loves being part of the team. “Everyone I work with is really nice to me and when I do a good job, they hook me up with a bonus.” Not a bad gig if I do say so myself.

When the clock strikes 4 pm, Ted’s day isn’t finished. In his spare time he likes to tinker with new projects and fix broken treasures. If he can’t fix and sell it, he finds a way to repurpose it. One of Ted’s most recent projects is a mount for his iPod which fastens to the frame of his new bike. Now he can listen to tunes while he rips around town.

Looking around Ted’s home it is easy to see that Ted is passionate about creating

Looking around Ted’s home it is easy to see that Ted is passionate about creating. When he is not fixing up his ride he can be found drawing video game characters, painting fresh canvasses in his art class, and playing through games on his Xbox. One of Ted’s favorite games is Minecraft; a game where one builds and plays characters of their own design in a world which is also designed by the game player.

Finally, I asked Ted about his dream job. “I love cars,” he beamed. “I’d like to work with Monster trucks or clean Nascars. Maybe a mechanic.” It sounds like any pit crew would be lucky to have your creative vision and playful personality. Thanks Ted!

 

Ben Morris,

Community Education and Outreach

 

Bronwyn loves meeting new people and forging new friendships in her community.

Over the last four years Bronwyn Lenton-Young has been volunteering in her community. Whether she is sorting and preparing food to be distributed from the food bank or delivering hot meals to the doors of people around Regina with Meals on Wheels, Bronwyn has learned to find joy in helping others. In addition to providing safe and healthy meals to her community, she has also learned important skills in cleanliness and sanitation in the kitchen. What started as housekeeping and sanitation at the Regina Food Bank has made its way into Bronwyn’s natural skill-set in the home as she becomes more familiar with her role.

Bronwyn’s ultimate goal is to become employed in customer service and to create permanent income for herself. She loves meeting new people and forging new friendships in her community. She has accomplished this in her role at the Regina Food Bank but perhaps most evidently with the people she meets on her Meals on Wheels route. When asked about her role at Meals on Wheels, she speaks more about the people on the route than the actual volunteering itself; Citing birthdays and her knowledge of the people she meets on a personal basis. Her infectious smile and ability to engage conversation with anyone strengthens her case for this award as it is directly related to her helpful role in the community. She cares about people and unknowingly brightens the days of those whose path she crosses.

She cares about people and unknowingly brightens the days of those whose path she crosses

Through Bronwyn’s experience volunteering with the public and with her ever developing knowledge of safe food and better housekeeping practices, she has evolved into a very independent woman. In Bronwyn’s home you will find her preparing her own meals as well as keeping her space clean and tidy. She is a terrific housemate to her friend Gillian, a great member of the Regina community, and a valued member of our COR community as well.

My favorite part about Bronwyn is that she is unassuming and humble. She expects nothing and is thankful for what she receives. When asked if she was aware of how valuable her role in the community was, she replied with, ‘my parents are proud of me. And Shea [Bronwyn’s Team Leader], she is proud of me also.’ Bronwyn helps people every day whether it be in providing healthy meal options to the less fortunate or by helping to keep the levels of cleanliness at work and at home suited to the highest of expectations. She would never ask for credit and that is why she deserves our recognition.

Thank You B!

On October 25th, 2017, Bronwyn was the recipient of the Al McGuire Award for Community Involvement. Watch SARC’s Celebrate Success video here.

 

Ben Morris,

Community Education and Outreach

 

Vulnerabilities of Caregivers – John J. McGee

“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.

John J. McGee’s “Mending Broken Hearts” CPLS Newsletter

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.

 

I love the leader that COR and gentle teaching has enabled me to become!

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.

what I learned at COR

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

Gentle Teaching has become a main part of my life

Being WITH one another is one of the main lessons I have grown to appreciate since being introduced to Gentle Teaching.

Often when I have the chance to catch up with somebody I have not seen for a while, the question always seems to pop up: “So, where are you working these days?”. This is a funny question for me to answer because when you truly find something that you are passionate about and enjoy doing on a daily basis, it’s no longer considered work – this is how Gentle Teaching has transformed me as a person. After graduating high school, I soon found myself at a job that did not offer any growth for myself as an individual. A cooking job that provided forty hours a week, but had me asking myself if this is really how I want to spend the next however many years of my life, at a job where I simply show up for a nine to five shift, then go home. I can imagine that I was among millions of people who couldn’t wait to be done work to get home and relax, dreading the thought of having to go back the next day. I needed a change, especially knowing that I had much more inside of me than that. COR was an option that I had considered applying for, but was ambiguous about at first. It’s the type of organization that was very unfamiliar to me solely because I was one of many who had the common attitude that people with a disability may be seen as troublesome and based my perception on the idea of their “behaviour”. I took a blind leap into Gentle Teaching and soon realized that a critical part of this culture of gentleness is shedding these beliefs and valuing people for who they are. Now, two years later, I have found myself buried so deep in the lives of the individuals I serve that the thought of not seeing them throughout the week is unnerving.

With COR, I now find myself getting lost in the moment with these individuals that I can honestly call my friends, forgetting about time all-together. From being part of a fast paced, aggressive work environment in the past, to now being a part of a community that practices Gentle Teaching in every aspect in life is truly a blessing. Gentle Teaching has helped me focus on building a sense of companionship and community with those that I serve and that there is no nine to five shift when it comes to being involved in others lives. The relationships you create and maintain with others directly revolves around the time you invest with them, being WITH one another is one of the main lessons I have grown to appreciate since being introduced to Gentle Teaching. This philosophy is truly something special, something you can’t just turn on or off when it fits. I believe it’s the unconditional compassion for others in which we all have inside of us.

 

Sawyer, COR Support

 

Finding the perfect job is hard!

Jessie loves sport! Being active is a giant part of his makeup (blueprint) so a job at the University of Regina in the athletic department was an obvious and easy transition for him. After more than a decade of employment at a local grocery store, Jessie knew it was time for a change. Jessie’s friendly and conversational nature now thrives on the busy and bustling Regina Campus. “I get to meet a lot of people and chat them up all the time! Sometimes [my friends] come by and say hi which is pretty cool too.”

Jessie’s extremely conversational personality mixed with his natural ability to make people smile makes him the perfect candidate for a role in customer experience. On finding a job that fits his talents, Jessie also stated that, “If I am not checking people in to the gym, my boss lets me clean the equipment and chat with people around the gym. I have a good boss.” Consumers in health services have so many options nowadays with gyms popping up on every corner. Jessie has found a way to make that experience different at the U of R.

I have a good boss

In addition to being able to use his natural abilities every day in his role at the gym, Jessie is able to feed his need for sport after hours as well. Once Jessie punches the clock at the end of his day he is able to make use of the facility. When asked about the perks of his role, Jessie’s eyes lit up to say, ‘I have my own student card and can play ball or sit courtside to watch the Cougars play as long as I am not on the job.” Jessie went on to say with a grin, “sometimes I get tempted to shoot a couple hoops when I’m on break, but I know it looks bad on the resume!”

Finally when asked what he does with his hard earned paycheck he replied, “I save it. I don’t spend a lot. I guess I do want a DeRozan Jersey to wear while I am shooting hoops, but that’s it.” Not only is he an athlete and social butterfly, but he is responsible too!

Finding the perfect job is hard. Feeding the soul and the bank account is often something that we have to do separately; making time in our lives for both. Jessie has managed to find a role with the University that not only takes care of both of these life necessities, but nourishes them as well.

Great work Jessie!

 

To learn more about Inclusive Employment, visit: www.4to40.ca.

 

Ben Morris,

Community Education and Outreach

 

“Gentle Teaching has pushed me to be the best support and friend possible”

I believe I am naturally a very gentle, loving and empathetic person, which made Gentle Teaching an easy concept and philosophy for me to grasp. I remember looking at the COR website before applying and thinking that being employed with this organization would be so rewarding, as I would just have to follow and build off of my values. With additional trainings on the philosophy of Gentle Teaching, I’ve been able to maintain a culture of gentleness within the team of individuals I support by valuing them for who they are and consistently showing them my love and gratitude for our friendships.

I believe that I am able to maintain a culture of gentleness

Gentle Teaching has certainly pushed me to be the best support and friend possible. The moments in which the Gentle Teaching philosophy and its effect on my growth as a support and individual become most notable to me, are in the moments of conflict. Of course it is easy to be calm and loving when things are going well, but the real test of self lies in times of challenge. I believe that I am able to maintain a culture of gentleness within times of adversity by continuing to offer positive regard, unconditional love, and acceptance. I challenge myself to always make sure that my words, presence, hands, and gaze, display a sense of love and compassion, with an honest desire to help.

I look forward to continuing and building off of the friendships I’ve made at COR for the rest of my life. When supporting, I am constantly reminded of how lucky I am to be in the presence of such wonderful individuals. This only enhances my aspirations of becoming a Gentle Teaching advocate within my support role, as well as within the health region.

 

Marie-Claire, COR Support