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Culture of Gentleness: A Promising Practice for Supporting Vulnerable Individuals

Global Regina Click here to watch the interview on Global.

 

CTV Morning LiveClick here to watch the interview on CTV Morning Live.

 

Culture of Gentleness

4to40 Featured in 2016 Vital Signs Report: Economic Belonging — Building an Inclusive Workforce

Vital Signs ReleaseVital Signs Executive SummaryClick here to view the full report.

Click here to view CTV News coverage of the report.

 

Dispelling Myths About People with Disabilities

COR partnered with four AWESOME UofR Kin Students on a project for the International Day for Persons With Disabilities (IDPD 2015). Check out this great story about the project posted to the UofR webpage on December 2, 2015. Be sure to watch the video too!!

Article by: Costa Maragos

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Some myths and misconceptions about people with disabilities are being explored in a compelling and thoughtful video produced by four Kinesiology students.

The video production is titled; Inclusion Matters: Debunking Common Myths Around Disability.

“We hope to generate some critical thinking and open-ended discussions about the current myths and stereotypes many people have about people with disabilities,” says Jordan Wirachowsky, one of four students involved in the production. “The overall message is we hope it can change  attitudes towards people with disabilities and create a more inclusive society.”

Wirachowsky, along with Matthew Pacholko, Jason Mo and Jordan Wyonzek, came up with the idea as part of a project in their Kinesiology 342 class, Developmental Disabilities & Well-Being, taught by professor Brenda Rossow-Kimball.

The video has been produced to coincide with International Day of Persons With Disabilities, December 3. That day, the video will be shown to a class at Campbell Collegiate in Regina.

In the video, students, faculty and staff on campus are asked to respond, sometimes with little or no warning, to various statements relating to myths about people with disabilities, including:

  • people with disabilities only like to spend time with others who have disabilities;
  • people with disabilities are more likely to be injured in the workplace;
  • people with disabilities are not independent and are unable to perform tasks of daily living.

“A few individuals gave some real thought to the questions and strived to dig deeper and find true meaning in the questions,” says Pacholko. “Some students appeared at a loss of explanation. Perhaps it was because they’ve never thought of the topic in such a way before or because they were put on the spot.”

Watch Inclusion Matters: Debunking Common Myths Around Disability, produced jointly by Brandon Wu of Strategy Lab and Creative Options Regina.

As part of the assignment, the students were asked to connect with a community organization and create a project that recognizes this year’s theme for International Day of Persons With Disabilities.

The students connected with Creative Options Regina, a non-profit organization in Regina that develops personalized support services for people with disability.

“Participating in class projects such as this helps raise awareness of our organization, while further contributing to the development of a more inclusive community for all,” says Michael Lavis, Executive Director of Creative Options Regina.

The video’s overall message, say the students, is the hope it can change peoples’ attitudes towards those with disabilities and create a more inclusive society.

“A more inclusive society helps build relationships and allows people with different abilities to be valued and shown dignity,” says Pacholko.

 

Click here for the full story on the UofR webpage.

 

4to40 featured in Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce Newsletter

Well 4to40 is at it again! This time it was the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce writing about the impact the program is having at the University.

University of Regina Supports students with disabilities 4to40 making a dent in Saskatchewan

To download the Saskatchewan Chamber Newsletter, click here –> Jan 2015 Edition

Brian Calley’s Remarks at the 2014 Culture of Gentleness Conference

An inspiring speech by Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley given during the 2014 COG Conference in Michigan, USA.

Don’t Listen To People Who Use The Word ‘Impossible’

Every year, on December 3, people all over the world come together at various events to celebrate International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD). This international celebration of difference and understanding was established in 1992 by the United Nations, and seeks to encourage those worldwide to consider new perspectives in order to fully promote inclusion of people with disabilities in all aspects of our social, cultural, and economic spheres. Each year the theme is different and highlights a new and important topic – this year’s theme was “Sustainable Development: The Promise of Technology.”

Over the summer of 2014, many individuals that receive support through Creative Options Regina (COR) had the opportunity to take a 6-week course through the Regina and District Association for Community Living called “Let’s Connect – Sharing your Awesome with an iPad.” The individuals who attended learned all about how to utilize the wonderful world of technology and expand their ability to communicate and deepen their sense of community through the use of an iPad. At the end of the course they got to take their iPad home and make it unique to their own needs and interests. Many individuals now connect through iMessages, e-mails, FaceTime, Facebook and other social media platforms; many utilize their camera feature to take and share photos of their family, friends, activities, and favorite things; many utilize speech applications or other assistive or educational tools; and of course all of the fun stuff such as YouTube, games and silly apps! The list of ways in which these individuals use their iPads to expand their world goes on and on, and it has been truly incredible to see.

COR Presents Tech Talks

In September 2014, two UofR Kinesiology and Health Studies students, Megan Barss and Leah Fiorante, were given the task of creating an event that brings awareness to IDPD as a requirement for one of their classes. Megan and Leah had heard about “Let’s Connect” and watched the videos that Strategy Lab created to broadcast what the course was all about. Megan and Leah thought it would be great to do a follow-up video of how “Let’s Connect” and technology in general has aided in improving accessibility, community, and connection for those within COR who now utilize their iPads frequently. Over the course of a few months, and many meetings and correspondence, “Tech Talks” was brought to life.

“Tech Talks” was held at the Science Centre on December 2nd 2014. There were approximately 50 people in attendance, all of different abilities, ages, and backgrounds. “Tech Talks” began with some appetizers and wine, and as people began to socialize the room grew with excitement and interest. The first speaker of the evening was Jeph Maystruck, who works at Strategy Lab and is involved with many other initiatives across Regina. Jeph spoke about how technology is influencing our society as a whole, and he captivated the audience with his discussion around never saying something is “impossible” and continually seeking new opportunities and potential for growth. It also doesn’t hurt that Jeph gave out lottery tickets to the audience members who answered his questions – he expanded our minds and our wallets! Jeph began the evening by instilling a sense of hope and inspiration in the audience, which laid the foundation for an evening that was all about capabilities and reaching goals never thought possible with the help of technology.

The second speaker of the evening was Kevan McBeth, who has been an advocate for people with disabilities for over 11 years, which began after the birth of his daughter Lauryn who was born with Down Syndrome. Kevan spoke about how important technology can be for those with disabilities, and in particular the ways in which technology has allowed his daughter Lauryn to grow and learn in a way that is unique and appropriate to her individual needs. Kevan spoke about many apps that can be downloaded to assist with spelling, math, or writing, as well as features such as Siri, which acts not only as a companion for many, but also encourages people to annunciate and speak fluently in order to have their commands understood. Skills such as this are transferrable to real life situations and are taught through the apps in a way that is patient, understanding, and at a pace that is appropriate to the individual. Kevan shared many stories of how technology has allowed individuals, and in particular his family and his daughter, to connect and communicate on a new level, which most often has a positive impact on the persons overall quality of life.

The third speaker was Stacey Laing, who is the coordinator of the “Let’s Connect” program at RDACL. Stacey shared with the audience the ways in which she has seen people grow and flourish as a result of utilizing their iPads. Stacey shared many inspirational stories about individuals who now get their needs met by taking photos of groceries and other items they want and then sending these pictures to their supports; individuals who now connect with old friends, supports or family who they had previously lost touch with; individuals who have never had a meaningful item all to themselves and who now find such pride and joy in using their iPad; and many more amazing stories of success and growth. Stacey stated that “Let’s Connect” is expanding and many other organizations within the province are receiving training on the course and are now rolling out the program in their own districts. Upon conclusion of Stacey’s discussion, the follow-up video of the “Let’s Connect” course that was created specifically for IDPD was shown – it can be viewed here:

Tech Talks: In Celebration of the 2014 International Day of Persons with Disabilities from Creative Options Regina (COR) on Vimeo.

After the video was shown, I, Kasey, invited up 4 individuals from COR who had participated in the “Let’s Connect” program to share their own stories of the ways technology has impacted their lives. First, Erin joined me on stage and discussed how she utilizes her iPad for school and connecting with friends and supports. Next, Patrick came on stage and discussed how he uses his iPad to connect with friends over various social media platforms, as well as how he utilizes apps such as the Weather Network to help plan his day accordingly. He also discussed his hope to eventually use a transit app to aid in planning his transportation around the city. Next, Ruby came on stage and shared her love for YouTube and watching craft videos. Ruby even brought a wooden crossbow that she made by watching an instructional video – but don’t worry, nobody was hurt during the display of the crossbow… it was made out of wooden sticks and rubber bands! Last but not least, Andrew joined me on stage and spoke to the audience about how he loves to use the calculator app to figure out the exact hours, minutes, seconds, and milliseconds that a person has been alive – he is very creative with the use of his iPad! All 4 of these individuals use their iPads in different ways that are special to their own interests and needs, and it was great to hear from them about how technology has improved their ability to communicate and connect.

After Erin, Patrick, Ruby and Andrew shared their stories, Tech Talks came to a close. Many people stayed after to mingle, ask questions, and network. There was a buzz in their air that is difficult to describe… It felt as though there was a common feeling of hope and inspiration in the room. I feel that “Tech Talks” encouraged those in attendance to strive to consistently challenge their ideas of what people with disabilities are capable of and to always see the ability in others in order to continually provide opportunities for inclusion and growth for those with disabilities in all spheres of our communities. We can all utilize the brilliant world of technology to help bring to life each individuals unique and valuable strengths, to help formulate and accomplish individual goals and understand and appreciate everyone’s abilities and desire to be included and contribute to our communities in a meaningful way. Technology has shaped our world in ways that were never thought possible. Technology has allowed for us to uncover medical and scientific discoveries that have never been explored before, to travel to unknown depths and spaces to find new species and cultures, to share ideas and spark movements with people across the world that shape our social and political realms each day… It is time that we fully include the population of individuals with diverse abilities into this wonderful world of technology. The world as we know it can be shaped and inspired by the unique and valuable perspectives of those with disabilities, all of which can happen at the simple touch of a screen.

Kasey, COR Support

Don't Listen to The People Who Use The Word Impossible

Government of Canada Enabling Accessibility Fund (EAF) for Workplace Accessibility

Employment and Social Development Canada launched a call for proposals on August 6, 2014, under the workplace accessibility stream of the Enabling Accessibility Fund. Small businesses can apply to receive up to $50,000 in grant funding for projects that help to create or maintain job opportunities for people with disabilities through improvements to accessibility in the workplace. Projects may include:

  • construction, renovation or retrofit of workplaces in which job opportunities could be created or maintained specifically for people with disabilities; and
  • the installation of assistive technologies for work use.

If you are an employer who has hired or is thinking about hiring people with disabilities, you are encouraged to apply for a grant by October 1, 2014. Choose to embrace diversity and break down barriers to accessibility in your workplace!

Click here to find out how to apply. Applications must be received by 11:59 p.m. (EST) on October 1, 2014.

Citizen’s Consultation Team

Government is committed to making Saskatchewan the best place in Canada for persons with disabilities to live. Together with the disability community and all Saskatchewan citizens, the Province is developing a comprehensive disability strategy to make this a reality.

The Strategy will focus on the priority areas specified in the Plan for Growth: housing; transportation; employment; education; support for community inclusion; and support for caregivers. Other priorities may be identified during the consultation process.

A fifteen member Citizen Consultation Team (CCT), appointed by the Minister of Social Services, has been tasked with leading the public forums that will start April 28th, 2014 in Swift Current and will continue across the province throughout the month of May 2014.

The public forums are an opportunity for you and/or your organization to: identify issues specific to your experience with disability; share your ideas on how to improve programs, services and opportunities for people who experience disability; and, give your perspective on other potential pieces of the Strategy, such as the common understanding of disability and the vision, values and principles.

Ensure that you and your members get involved in the discussion!

For more information and to register for the public forums visit here.