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!
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
Location: University of Regina College Ave. Campus
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.
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.
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!
Over the past several months, COR and Inclusion Regina have been working together to unite our families — consolidating our operations will enhance the programs currently available for people experiencing disability within our community. Considered complementary to one another, the two organizations will benefit from joining forces because of the increased critical mass that will result, allowing the expansion of services and the potential to add new services.
The people served by Inclusion Regina and Creative Options Regina deserve the best opportunities we can provide. People served, their families and employees will see ‘more’ and ‘better’ as we join forces to make the best use of our resources; our funders will see greater efficiency and stronger outcomes too.
We look forward to an exciting future — building an inclusive community — together!
February 13th, 2019, Saskatoon — Saskatoon Sexual Health, Creative Options Regina, and Inclusion Saskatchewan are pleased to announce a new companion website for our modern and innovative sexual wellness initiative Tell It Like It Is! just in time for Sexual and Reproductive Health Awareness Week 2019.
Tell It Like It Is! is a revolutionary program—It is sex-positive, inclusive, and comprehensive; the purpose is to assist diverse learners in making life choices that promote optimal health and wellness in all dimensions of life. Using a compassionate approach, each module offers various learning opportunities through topics such as: communication skills; hygiene; online safety; developing goals and dreams; building healthy relationships; as well as sexual health education on topics such as STBBIs. Evidence indicates that people with intellectual disabilities do not receive adequate health information and education. “It has been our experience that when health education like Tell It Like It Is! is provided participants experience positive outcomes such as identifying healthy relationships, having the capacity to make informed decisions, and have fewer vulnerabilities to abuse.” Michael Lavis, Executive Director of Creative Options Regina.
This project reaches further than the individuals who participate in the programming, as it aims to support caregivers, educators, healthcare professionals, and the disability services sector by sharing information about existing resources and supports related to sexual health and well-being. The demand for this one-of-a-kind program continues to grow, with interest from all over Canada and North America. To increase access to the project, the Instructor’s Manual is available at no cost online at our new website www.nevertmi.ca. The website was created in collaboration with Strategy Lab (Regina), and will continue to grow as a resource hub for sexual health and wellness education for diverse learners.
The goal with this project is to develop a community of individuals and organizations that will respect, value and celebrate the diversity and uniqueness of people with intellectual disabilities and their collective lived experiences. “We are all entitled to loving, fulfilling, and healthy relationships— Tell It Like It Is! promotes an environment where there’s never too much information, and participants are encouraged to ask questions, challenge assumptions, and gain vital life skills” said Heather Hale, Executive Director, Saskatoon Sexual Health.
To learn more about Tell It Like It Is, we invite the community to join us at an upcoming Community Collaboration and Learning Opportunity in Saskatoon on March 15, 2019: Sexual Health Education and People with Developmental Disabilities.
United Nations Population Fund: Young Persons with Disabilities: Global Study on Ending Gender-Based Violence, and Realising Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights
Meet Mitchell Anderson.
Have you ever worked on a project that you’re so proud of you want to share it with everyone? Mitchell has! In fact, ever since the travel training program began he has been thinking about and working on ways to help lift it to new heights. In his own words Mitchell stated, “This program is for everyone. We could all use it. It’s great for the environment and it helps people believe in themselves and their abilities.”
Mitchell’s involvement in this collaborative initiative (Campus for All, COR and City of Regina) as a travel trainer has been inspiring people of all ages and abilities to strive for greater independence. When asked what he has enjoyed most about the program he stated that, “after doing it for the past few months, it’s been great to learn from people and hear about other people’s lives and experiences with using the bus. It’s also been pretty neat learning about how to adapt my language to help others understand and learn about how the bus helps people in wheelchairs. It would be great to learn about how the graduates are doing; what they liked and what they struggle with.”
Being well spoken and accommodating is only one of the many talents this trainer possesses. He manages to hold down a second job with the Conexus Arts Centre in the evenings and is an active idea-man. He enjoys science music and one day would like to write his own book. Eventually his goal is to become a teacher’s assistant. He is always on the lookout for new ways to promote the travel training program to new audiences and is never happy with ‘just because.’
Some of the feedback Mitchell has been getting from the project after the first nine months into its pilot year has been very positive. He said that, “some of the people have been telling me that they like the fact that they can go out and do it on their own. This was inspiring to hear.” He went on to explain, “If people only knew how easy it was to get around, public transit would be used by everyone.”
Looking back on the last nine months it’s hard to imagine this program being as successful without the hard work of Mitchell. He is extremely humble when it comes to his strengths but when asked to elaborate on what his future holds he said, “Well something that people don’t know about me is that I like to travel. I like to talk about my trip to Vienna, Austria and Paris, France. Someday I’d like to go back; maybe even with my girlfriend!
Thank you Mitchell for teaching Regina’s finest about the program. It takes strong advocates like you to truly bring these things to life!
For more information, visit: www.4to40.ca
Director of Storytelling
Dylan Morin can get almost anywhere in Regina.
“I know the city like the back of my hand,” he said. “I know how to get to a lot of the stops.”
He’s been riding the city bus since high school, despite the challenges of an intellectual disability. On Thursday, he took the 18 from the University of Regina. Once the doors shut and the driver pulled away, Morin spoke in a soft, reassuring tone. Don’t be nervous, he offered, you’re not alone.
“There’s nothing to it,” he said. “As much as you need me, I’ll be there for you.”
Morin was showing how he teaches other people with disabilities how to ride the bus. He’ll be one of four transit trainers hired through a partnership between the city and Creative Options Regina, which are preparing to roll out a transit trainer pilot program this spring
“We’re the only transit system in Canada using this particular approach,” said Regina’s paratransit and accessibility manager, Lynette Griffin. “We’re utilizing people with disabilities, particularly people with intellectual disabilities, to do the training.”
She said the program will help Regina Paratransit users make the jump to conventional transit. It will also create paid employment for the trainers. The goal is to open up more flexible transit choices, all while saving the city money in the long run.
“If we can move some trips off, then we’ll have capacity in Paratransit to continue to meet our growing demand,” she said. “It will help Paratransit to manage our budget… for every trip on conventional transit, it’s a $20 saving.”
Those who learn to use buses won’t be barred from Paratransit. Griffin said she wants to avoid a “segregated system.” But she called conventional transit “a great second option” that can promote empowerment.
“It will give them the opportunity to travel through the community without having to book trips in advance,” she said. “You can come and go wherever you want, so there’s much more independence and flexibility.”
Creative Options Regina supports people with intellectual disabilities, and its CEO, Michael Lavis, is convinced that most of his clients would thrive on the bus. For many, only one thing stands in the way: Fear.
“People are nervous because they don’t know,” he said. “Sometimes people haven’t really been afforded the opportunity to learn.”
That’s why his staff looked for trainers like Morin, outgoing people with extensive bus-riding experience. They’re all part of the University of Regina’s Campus for All program. Lavis called them “champions of transit.”
“They know that transit system inside and out,” he said. “No fears, no apprehensions. They know where to go.”
Morin plans to use a staged process that will go from hands-on to hands-off as his students get the hang of the bus.
“It’s about getting individuals outside of their comfort zone,” he said.
At first, he’ll meet them at their home, walk them to the bus stop, show them how to read a transit map. He’ll sit right beside them as they look out for their stop. If all goes well, the next trip might be different.
“I wouldn’t sit with you on the bus like I did,” he explained. “I would give you a landmark to pull the bell at.”
By the end, Morin would be on standby, taking check-ins over the phone.
The program’s contract is still being finalized. But Lavis and Griffin are confident it will be up and running this spring. Griffin said all Paratransit users will be welcome to make use of the training, whether they have cognitive or mobility challenges.
Morin and his colleagues will be there to show them the way.
“They’re actually really excited about it and want to be champions for teaching others,” said Lavis. “That’s part of the magic.”