Building Digital Skills and Confidence: The Let’s Connect Initiative

In a world driven by technology, everyone deserves the opportunity to explore the digital landscape and connect with others. Let’s Connect is an educational initiative that empowers people experiencing disability by boosting their knowledge and confidence in using technology and communication devices.

Let’s Connect goes beyond just teaching technical skills; it’s about fostering independence and enhancing the digital experience for all. This program covers a range of important topics, including: connecting to Wi-Fi, staying safe online, utilizing accessibility features and helpful apps, practicing online etiquette, making informed choices on social media, and expressing oneself through pictures and videos.

Connecting to Wi-Fi: Navigating the Digital World

The program recognizes that accessing the internet is a gateway to a world of knowledge and connection. By practicing the process of connecting to Wi-Fi, participants can easily explore the online world.

Online Safety and Security: Empowering Users

In an age where cybersecurity is paramount, Let’s Connect places a strong focus on online safety and security. Participants learn about password security, identifying potential online threats, and protecting personal information. This knowledge assists individuals in navigating the digital world confidently.

Accessibility and Helpful Apps: Customizing Technology to Individual Needs

Technology can be a powerful tool for bridging gaps and creating opportunities, and Let’s Connect highlights this potential. The program explores accessibility features and useful apps that cater to the unique needs of participants. From device features to communication apps, these tools enhance daily life experiences.

Online Etiquette: Navigating Digital Spaces with Respect

In a world where virtual interactions have become the norm, this program teaches the importance of online etiquette. Participants learn how to engage respectfully in digital spaces, fostering positive online relationships and connections.

Being Smart on Social Media: Making Informed Choices

Social media can be a valuable platform for connection and expression. Let’s Connect equips participants with the knowledge to use social media wisely, enabling them to engage safely and meaningfully in online communities.

Sharing Your Voice Through Pictures and Videos: Unleashing Creativity

Amidst a digital landscape that celebrates visual content, Let’s Connect encourages participants to express themselves through pictures and videos. This creative outlet not only promotes self-expression but also boosts a sense of accomplishment and pride.

This initiative is not about highlighting challenges but celebrating the strengths and capabilities of people experiencing disability. It’s about recognizing the unique perspectives they bring to the digital realm and ensuring that they have the tools and knowledge to flourish in the digital age.

So, let’s connect – not just to the internet, but also to a world of possibilities, knowledge, and empowerment. Let’s celebrate the incredible strides being made by Let’s Connect in making this vision a reality for all.

Short Breaks: Supporting Regina Families

“Short Breaks,” is not just a program; it’s a lifeline for families, a testament to the power of understanding the intricate needs of families and supporting them with Short Breaks. 

The Core of Short Breaks: Family Support and Respite

At its core, “Short Breaks” is about recognizing and responding to the essential needs of families. It offers something invaluable – respite. This respite is not just a temporary relief, but a critical support system for families who navigate the daily challenges of caring for loved ones who experience an intellectual disability. It’s about providing these families with a chance to rejuvenate, to catch their breath, and find comfort in the knowledge that their loved ones are in a safe, nurturing environment.

A Community Effort for Empathy and Inclusion

“Short Breaks” is a collaborative endeavour involving Inclusion Regina, Creative Options Regina, and the City of Regina, with financial support from Sask Lotteries. This collaboration underlines the community’s commitment to empathy, inclusion, and the well-being of all its members.

More Than Just Time Off

The program goes beyond offering mere “time off” for families. It’s an opportunity for individuals experiencing disability to engage in social, educational, recreational, and creative activities. These activities are designed not only to entertain, but also to stimulate and foster a sense of community belonging and personal growth.

The Ripple Effect of Short Breaks

The impact of “Short Breaks” extends far beyond the individuals it directly serves. It lightens the load for families, providing a sense of security and peace of mind. For the community, it strengthens the bonds of understanding and compassion, creating a more inclusive and supportive environment for all.

A Model of Compassionate Community Support

“Short Breaks” serves as a shining example of what can be achieved when a community comes together to support its most vulnerable members. It’s a reminder of the importance of empathy, the value of respite, and the power of collective effort in making a real difference in people’s lives.

As “Short Breaks” continues to grow and evolve, it stands as a beacon of hope and a symbol of the strength of community spirit. Its success lies in its unwavering commitment to providing much-needed support to families and creating a space where everyone feels valued and included.

Tell It Like It Is: A Compassionate Approach to Comprehensive Sexual Education

In a world that sometimes tiptoes around important topics, Tell It Like It Is stands boldly as a revolutionary program. It’s not just sex-positive; it’s inclusive, comprehensive, and unapologetically honest. This program is on a mission to empower diverse learners, guiding them to make informed life choices that promote optimal health and wellness in all dimensions of life.

This isn’t your typical sex education program. It’s a compassionate journey through crucial life topics, offering a safe space where participants can explore, learn, and grow. Let’s take a closer look at what makes this program so remarkable.

Goals:

Accurate Information: The foremost goal of this program is to ensure that learners receive accurate and up-to-date sexuality education. In a world where myths and misconceptions abound, this program equips participants with the knowledge they need to make informed decisions about their lives.

Open and Safe Platform: Beyond just information, the program creates a platform where participants can open up. It’s a place to share stories, ask questions, explore curiosities, express fears, and gain knowledge without judgment or shame. This safe and open environment is a cornerstone of the program’s success.

Curriculum:

Tell It Like It Is consists of nine modules, each covering a range of topics related to sexual health and wellness. These modules are designed to cater to diverse learners, making the program accessible to all. Some of the topics covered include:

Communication Skills: Effective communication is the foundation of healthy relationships. Participants learn how to express themselves, listen actively, and navigate the complexities of human interaction.

Hygiene: Personal hygiene is not just about cleanliness; it’s about self-respect and self-care. This emphasizes the importance of maintaining good hygiene practices for overall well-being, but also as a way to improve relationships and connections with others. 

Building Healthy Relationships: Healthy relationships are an important part of a fulfilling life, and help us to reduce loneliness and isolation. This explores what constitutes a healthy relationship, and how to recognize what an unhealthy relationship looks like. 

Sexual Health: The program also covers life-saving information that is necessary to keep ourselves safe; including consent, abuse prevention, STBBI’s (Sexually Transmitted and Blood-Borne Infections), private vs public spaces, and much more. It offers a safe and non-judgmental space for participants to learn about their bodies and sexual health.

Tell It Like It Is doesn’t shy away from challenging topics. Instead, it approaches them with empathy and compassion, recognizing that every participant is unique and has their own lived experiences. The program’s interactive learning activities make the experience engaging, ensuring that the knowledge gained is not just theoretical, but practical.

In a world that often stigmatizes conversations about sexuality and disability, Tell It Like It Is recognizes the necessity of these conversations. Everyone has the right to education, relationships, and pleasure, and upholding the rights of people with disabilities is vital. 

So, the next time you hear about Tell It Like It Is, remember that it’s more than just a program; it’s a movement towards a more informed and inclusive world. It’s about breaking down barriers and fostering a culture of openness and acceptance. Tell It Like It Is – because knowledge is power, and everyone deserves to wield it. Learn more about this program here!

Fostering Inclusion and Connection: The University of Regina Best Buddies Initiative

Best Buddies Canada, in partnership with Inclusion Regina and Creative Options Regina, is proud to support the University of Regina’s Best Buddies Chapter. This program unites post-secondary students with adults from the community who have intellectual or developmental disabilities, forging powerful connections that promote inclusion.

As a local chapter of the global nonprofit organization dedicated to cultivating one-to-one friendships and inclusive opportunities for individuals with disabilities, Best Buddies champions social interaction, personal growth, and meaningful connections between students and community members with disabilities. This effort contributes to the creation of a more inclusive and diverse community.

The university program, designed to break down barriers isolating individuals with disabilities, pairs students with intellectual or developmental disabilities alongside their peers from post-secondary institutions. It fosters a supportive environment where students gain insights into the challenges and successes faced by their buddies, shaping their attitudes during their time on campus and beyond.

For adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities, Best Buddies offers a lifeline to a more enriching life. This program provides opportunities for engagement in social activities, the establishment of lasting friendships, and the development of essential life skills. Moreover, it empowers them to become self-advocates and leaders in their communities, reinforcing the idea that diversity and inclusion are pivotal in building a stronger and more vibrant society.

Inclusion Regina and Creative Options Regina play integral roles as the Host Partners of the University of Regina Best Buddies Chapter, providing support and resources for the program’s success. Together, they foster a culture of inclusion, diversity, and understanding within Regina’s post-secondary institution, a positive influence that ripples through the city’s social fabric.

Best Buddies exemplifies the power of friendship, unity, and acceptance. In a world that often accentuates differences, this program serves as a poignant reminder that, together, we can build a world where everyone belongs.

Prairie Sexuality and Disability Conference featured in SARC Update (Winter 2023)

We are excited to share an article featured in the SARC Winter Update on the 2022 Prairie Sexuality & Disability Conference. We are still beaming with pride when thinking back to the event made possible because of all our incredible partners, sponsors, presenters, caterers, and resource distributors! We look forward to seeing everyone at our 2023 conference in Saskatoon. Stay tuned!

Sexuality and Disability Conference 2022

Creative Options Regina, Saskatoon Sexual Health, and Inclusion Saskatchewan are pleased to announce an upcoming conference supporting sexual health and wellness for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their networks.

Date: October 7, 2022

Time: 9-4pm

Location: University of Regina College Ave. Campus

 

REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN! (Click to Register)

Space is limited, so register early to secure your spot.

This is an exciting opportunity for support workers, caregivers, family members, community-based organizations, researchers, students, health care professionals, self-advocates, or anyone interested in learning more about sexuality and disability.

 

Proudly supported by the Community Initiatives Fund and the Saskatchewan Prevention Institute!

Celebrating Inclusive Employers: October is Disability Employment Awareness Month

Defining Your Role, with Jamie Carter

Two years ago, we connected with Jamie Carter to talk about her ambitions, dreams, and employment with Regina business, iQ Metrix. This week, we were able to reconnect with Jamie. 

Jamie has continued her employment at iQ Metrix for almost three years (since January of 2017) and has developed an exciting rapport with her colleagues and bosses. Her fantastic work ethic and a gift of gab has opened up a universe of opportunities and led her to the University of Regina, where she began her journey in education. In her own words,

“There is no time like the present to get what you want!”

Now years later, following our initial encounter with Jamie, we revisited the discussion about her employment. To jog our memory, we asked her a little bit about the work that iQ Metrix does and she described her current role with the company.

IQ Metrix is a software programming company. They are different. Everyone there seems to be having so much fun, and they enjoy chatting with me! They’re always busy but seem to be happy! Let me say, though, maybe a little too busy! . . . I’ve gotten more confidence in what I’m doing.”

Full of humour and character, Jamie chuckled at her response. When asked what her favourite part about working was, she replied,

“I like getting my workout with deliveries, and I like joking around with everybody. Thumbs up for iQ Metrix!”

Jamie was excited to add her current role as a University of Regina student to her resume. When we met two years ago, she was adamant about wanting to return to school and pursue more education and today, she can proudly say that she’s been attending classes for three semesters. When asked about the courses she’s taken and currently enrolled in, Jamie explained, 

“Two semesters of Cree and this year, one Indigenous studies class so far. I want to take classes that have to do with First Nations. I’m proud of that.”

Where she once explained school as being scary, Jamie now seems filled with motivation and dedication — describing University as: 

“…Interesting. My professors are interesting. What I am learning is interesting. I want to be a receptionist someday and work my way up, so I need to go to school for that.”

With such a busy daily life filled with meaningful employment and education, one might think that Jamie would also find time to relax. When asked about her schedule, Jamie replied, 

“I’m busy six days a week, man. I don’t have time to relax! But I suppose I like to watch T.V. at home and play with my cat. Just chill- but my [usual] plan for every day is reading. I like to get my brain practice. Not University books always. I just like to wake up my brain after its’ weekend sleep. I need to wake it up and get it back in an education mood. I take it seriously.”

Hanging out in the peripheral of Jamie’s life, we have noticed amazing things about her journey. One quality we appreciate about Jamie is her ability to maintain her unique spark and humorous edge. She loves to laugh and aims to make you smile at every turn. We also appreciate her feeling of accomplishment through the development of her character. Two years ago, Jamie was defining what meaningful employment and education meant to her. Today, reconnecting has illustrated how profoundly she owns her accomplishments. There is a growing hustle in Jamie that inspires us every time we can reunite and celebrate her. This hustle is driven, respectful of its boundaries, and humbling to the untrained eye.

Thank you, Jamie! Thank you, iQ Metrix! Thank you to the University of Regina Campus for All. Today, we acknowledge and celebrate you all for your progressiveness with inclusive employment and building love within our communities.

A Journey Through Inclusive Employment

Lucas Faye, alongside his family and Peco Nagai (Educational Facilitator at Campus For All), are actively defining what inclusive employment means to him, as well as working towards a vision for what it can be for everyone.

Lucas is currently a 4th year student at the University of Regina with assistance from Campus for All — an Inclusive Post-Secondary Education initiative for adults experiencing intellectual disability. Lucas is enrolled in courses that interest him, spreading positivity, love, and a contagious smile to the many people he meets on campus. One thing you might not know about Lucas is that he is also employed as a Teaching Assistant with the Center for Student Accessibility. He is also an employee of Special Olympics Saskatchewan. Students supported by Campus for All attend classes, participate in campus activities, create relationships, prepare for employment, and enjoy the same opportunities as their post-secondary peers. 

As we focus on National Disability Employment Awareness Month, we reached out to Lucas, his family, and Peco to share their perspectives on inclusive employment. Together, our conversation focused on how important inclusion has been for Lucas and the culture of Campus for All. Peco shared her profound connection to her position as an immigrant who experienced many barriers to inclusion in a country she now calls home. She began her journey as a Student Advisor for the English as a Second Language program. More than twenty years later, Peco’s involvement [since 2016] in Campus For All has lead to the opportunity to meet, learn from, and grow beside Lucas. Peco identified her hopes for what people can achieve for themselves. 

“You must expect that people have their own goals for their lives, and that’s the number one focus, rather than putting our own expectations on students because students need to be respected as the people they are. . . I like to see people become proud of themselves and enjoy their lives fully, regardless of disability. They’re entitled to that.”

Peco also highlighted the importance of finding meaning within the work that we do while encouraging us to understand that finding meaning within a job is completely unique to every single person.

“Every job has meaning because it’s important for the team. If a job provides meaning to you, then it is a meaningful job” 

We asked Peco: How can we better promote and encourage inclusive employment?

Peco provided insight on understanding the positive impact that individuality can offer to a workplace and our communities.

“The number one thing is giving people a chance, as well as not to be afraid. These people are not fragile, they are strong, they are adults and they are our equals that come to work. Don’t be overly protective. Work together from your heart, because sometimes we close our kindness and simply saying ‘that’s okay, you don’t have to do this’ is not being kind. Have the mindset that you CAN do it, think about how you can do it. . .Or better yet, let’s think together.”

Both Lucas and Peco reflected on the meaningful work within his role. Shredding important confidential documents, folding T-shirts for the Student Success Centre, and maintaining the integrity of the computers in the office are among some of the key duties he fulfills. Peco also shared an important story regarding Lucas’ character advancement and how it has impacted her as a person.

“We planned a big celebration – a big event welcoming about sixty people and Lucas planned everything from menus, to budget, invitations, the master of ceremonies, the clean-up and setup and everything involved. I was amazed at how much Lucas could do. . . I realized that we need to have higher expectations of these students. I explained, he learned, and he did it. So I had to learn to trust him. . . Lucas surprised so many people. We invited office workers, managers, directors — all were just surprised. This made the Centre of Student Accessibility realize they wanted Lucas as a casual employee – so thank you, Lucas.”

While Peco discussed how much professional development has occurred within Lucas, she also realized that as an employer, trusting in his abilities supported his natural growth. Peco identified how her trust evolved into counting on Lucas in his role.

“Strength will build up more and more, so please don’t count on the first appearance of people. It’s about the opportunity we provide for people. . . Being part of a team, we realize how much we rely on the good work that Lucas provides to the team and the only thing we expect is him being himself. . . four years ago when Lucas came, he was my first student. I never would have thought that Lucas would be here right now.”

A strong support system plays an important role in the success of any student or employee. Lucas’ family worked together with Peco in order to support the successes and failures that Lucas has experienced along the way. As an inclusive employer, a connection with families is a key factor for the development and success of the employee.

“Lucas’ parents trusted me, they did not see me as a person that pushed too much by bringing him to that overworked zone. They also supported me and we communicated very closely about the work we wanted him to do, the challenges and stresses in order to work towards a better outcome next time. . . Family support is very big.”

Lucas added to the conversation by sharing his own perception of the role he fulfils at Campus for All. He identified his achievements in event organization and utilization of computer programs, which landed among his most meaningful duties.

“I make student lists for people’s classes like time, location, e-mail addresses. . . data entry into Excel, Powerpoint and Word”

Given Lucas’ exuberant character, we were interested in asking him a few questions about what makes him so awesome. We asked Lucas what he loves to do in his spare time.

“Music, listening on my iPod: Abba, Barenaked Ladies, all kinds of stuff. If I had a million dollars is my favourite!”

And once asked how much he would share with us if he had a million dollars, Lucas jokingly responded “I’d give a thousand to each of you guys.” We also asked Lucas what his dream job is. If he could be anything in the world, what would he be?

“I’d like to be a bus driver, the city bus. . .I usually take the bus. . .I’ve helped Robbie, Taylor and Amelia too. I can do that, I can show people how to ride the bus”

When posed with the question of how he likes to spend his hard earned money, Lucas stated:

“I usually save it, I’m not much of a spender. I save up for games and eventually would save up to go to Los Angeles to go on Disney rides.”

We also asked Lucas if he would recommend that people become part of Campus for All. 

“I recommend people work for Campus for All. I enjoy working here.”

Allen, Lucas’ father, shared the family’s insight on how opportunity has opened up for his son. The inclusiveness they have experienced together has largely shaped the man Lucas is.

“Now he has even gained employment right in the University to help him get further trained for his employment and life ahead. This is all so important. He has just started this job, but I know that they will be so inclusive and open to him. So, as you can see, Lucas has been very fortunate to have had great opportunities over the past.”

Allen expressed the family’s deep gratitude for the roles that so many have had in Lucas’ life over the years. He also shared his perception of Campus for All and the message it sends for a more inclusive society.

“Not only does it give a chance for a much better life for students with better job opportunities, self-sufficiency and a more blossoming interest in life and education. It also helps regular students learn to accept, understand and integrate those with an intellectual disability in their own lives. I hope and pray that this program can always continue and expand so much further and help so many more people.”

Lucas, thank you for being YOU. You are defining what employment truly means for you. You actively show us what opportunity, trust and empowerment can offer for inclusiveness within our communities. Way to go, Lucas!