‘I love the freedom to move and the feeling of the outdoors!’

Employment means something different to every person. Some folks enjoy the social aspects of a job where the people make the work tolerable. Some prefer a role where they can put their head down and get things done for 8 hours a day and then go home to resume life the way they truly want. For Trent employment is all of these things. For Trent, employment adds variety.

When asked about what the perfect job for Trent would be he replied, ‘For me it would be the perfect mix of things. I don’t just like one job over another. I like to have time at home to chill out, and I also like to meet new people at work. If I had to choose I would say I’d be a mechanic in the afternoons and then relax by the water and skateboard all night!’ As Trent is a self-proclaimed ‘night owl’ evenings are made for leisure and relaxation.When I am skating I can let go, be myself, and let my worries drift away

Over the course of our conversation it became quite evident that Trent’s heart belongs to skateboarding in the summertime. When asked about his passion Trent stated, ‘I love the freedom to move and the feeling of the outdoors! When I am skating I can let go, be myself, and let my worries drift away!’ Trent also talked at length about his desire to keep up his skills and dedicate as much time as possible to practicing which is truly admirable when working toward any goal!

Finally, when asked about what he spends all his extra cash on, Trent lit up and said, ‘with my money I want to save enough to treat my family to things like Pats games or trips. I also want to make some upgrades to my skateboard like to the wheels and axels. New bearings would be sweet too!’

In getting to know Trent it has been my greatest pleasure to learn about his value to any work place. He loves to belong to team and is a dedicated partner to be able to count on. He values his work life balance and is never afraid to share in conversation-especially if it’s about the great outdoors or thrashing during the summer. He is adaptable, polite, and an all-around unique guy!

Thank you Trent for sharing your passions with me!

 

Ben Morris,

COR Family Member

 

It is an amazing thing to be surrounded by so many kind, genuine, and warm people!

The way that I create and maintain a culture of gentleness surrounding the women I support is through curiosity, warmth, and the building up of others. These three elements feed into one another and are tangibly helpful in sustaining the positive morale and affectionate atmosphere that are vital to a culture of gentleness.

curiosity implies -cor

Curiosity implies interest, attention, respect and good-naturedness, all of which are essential to building and maintaining a culture of gentleness. In the time I have been supporting at COR, I have consistently made a point of asking questions and approaching those I serve and my team with openness and attentiveness. I have found that it is much easier to build pleasant, amicable, and trusting relationships when the other senses your interest in them. Approaching the individuals I serve with curiosity means that I do not assume I know what they want, nor do I cut them off mid-sentence because I think I know what they will say. Instead, I try to listen with fresh ears every day in hopes that I might see and hear things that might otherwise get missed for that individual. Approaching my fellow team members with curiosity means asking how their day went and actually listening to the response. It means refraining from gossip or judgement when someone has made a mistake, and giving that person the benefit of the doubt. I truly believe that this is an essential piece to maintaining good team morale, and by extension, a happy and healthy emotional climate surrounding the individuals we serve.

Hence, I take that curiosity one step further by projecting genuine warmth and care to everyone in our circle. The most important aspect of the culture of gentleness for me is the sense of ease and comfort I feel when approaching others within our community. It is an amazing thing to be surrounded by so many kind, genuine, and warm individuals and to feel safe from judgement, ridicule, or rejection when moving through said group. It is important to me that others feel that same security in me, and so I strive to project amiability, not only to those I support and my teammates, but to everyone else within our immediate community.

That warmth and openness can be taken even further in the form of building up others around me. Greeting an acquaintance by name, remembering what they like, or asking a thoughtful question can make them feel seen and important. Encouraging and complimenting can likewise give someone a well-needed boost to keep doing their best. If I can build up the individuals I support, other supports or even COR friends and family members by doing any of these things, then that person I uplift is more likely to turn around and pay the same kindness forward to someone else. That, to me, is life force behind a culture of gentleness.

Ashley, COR Family Member

It is an amazing thing to be surrounded by so many kind, genuine, and warm individuals

Gentle Teaching has inspired me!

Gentle Teaching has inspired me to not only become a better support, but a better person, future educator, friend and family member. Gentle Teaching is not something I do when at work, but rather a lifestyle change to improve the way I live my life with the hope to influence those around me. It is important for me to build meaningful relationships that will last a lifetime with the people I support. Gentle Teaching has taught me the importance of valuing someone regardless of any mistake or negative behavior they might display. Gentle teaching has also taught me the importance of unconditional love — this can be shown in many forms, such as getting involved in the individuals lives, learning their likes and dislikes, sticking with them through hard times and providing reassurance we will get through this together.

Gentle Teaching has transformed the person I am today by guiding me away from your typical caregiver role into a support who plays a more meaningful role in a person’s life. I am inspired to be a better person than I was yesterday and who I will be tomorrow.

I am inspired to be a better person than I was yesterday

Brooklyn,

COR Family Member

 

Gentle Teaching has taught me that relationship building is so important when helping people.

Gentle teaching has changed the way I have relationships in my personal and professional life

Prior to supporting at COR, I hadn’t heard of the term Gentle Teaching; however, it is the main reason that I wanted to support at COR. Growing up, I knew I wanted to help people, but there is so much more to just helping people. Gentle Teaching has taught me that relationship building is so important when helping people. I have learned that there are many factors that make up building a positive relationship. That is where the four pillars of Gentle Teaching come in. One must first feel safe. When someone feels safe with another person they can open up and create the basis of a strong relationship. I use this with the individuals that I support and with the people in my everyday life. This is a skill I have learned, that I will use in my future practice as a Social Worker, when starting new relationships with my clients. The next pillar is to feel loved. Every person wants to feel loved, valued, and respected. I want the people that I support and work with to feel loved, valued, and respected by me. The next pillar in Gentle Teaching is loving. I love this pillar, as it lets people know that it is okay to show others that you love and care for them. I used this everyday in my personal life and when I’m supporting by letting others give me hugs, high-fives, etc. Everyone desires human connection, and I believe it is so important to make sure people who want human connection, get that. The last pillar is engaged. I think this one is very important. Healthy relationships are ones that have good communication and engagement. I have learned from COR and my studies to have branching conversations with others. This means to not just listen to someone, but to actively listen by making eye contact, asking questions about what the other person is telling you, and being present the entire time. I use these skills with my friends, family, and partner when they are talking to me. I also use these skills when I am supporting, so that the individuals feel heard, valued, and respected. I hope to also use this skill in my future social work career, as I hope to be a counselor one day, and being engaged during a counseling session is very important. I also love that Gentle Teaching doesn’t use the reward/punishment way of altering behavior. By using the four pillars of Gentle Teaching, I hope that the people I support now and, in the future, will change and grow with me, by going at the pace that each individual needs. Gentle Teaching has changed the way I have relationships in my personal and professional life.

using the four pillars of gentle teaching

Amelia,

COR Family Member

 

When Dreams Meet Opportunity

Meet Austin.

Through years of getting to know Austin, we at COR have become increasingly aware of his passion for recycling. It’s no secret that when you see his engaging smile around our studio, cruising the neighbourhood or cleaning up many communities, that he will have some form of recycling with him. As Austin has grown into the man he is today, his innate care for plastic waste has followed closely beside him. He has made great efforts to transform this passion into filling a very serious gap in this city: the proper way to recycle. As we dug deeper into this issue, Austin helped us to realize just how much he knows about proper disposal of waste and how far we still need to go. This gap in knowledge is just one thing that Austin is actively bringing awareness to. What we admire about Austin, though, is his inspiration to do more than just talk the talk.

We teamed up with him in his quest to rid this city of improper recycling due to the lack of recycling literacy there is. Though this is an overwhelmingly large feat, we believe Austin has the drive and fire in his soul to do it. Every dream must begin with an idea, so we combined our hearts, and our minds and got to work.

This summer, Austin, Chelsi and a few others at COR created an easy-to-follow informative household video based on the city’s guidelines for proper recycling. Together, we then took to the streets of Regina, knocking on doors and setting up appointments to share this message and begin filling this gap. Austin is laying his own foundation for a bright future based on his vision for a cleaner city and a cleaner world.

It’s people like Austin that truly change the world. By not settling for good enough or turning a blind eye to important issues, Austin has turned his passion into a much needed resource for our city.

Austin, you inspire us to believe that we all have the ability to make positive impacts on the environment and in the lives of others around us. Thank you for being you.

 

Regina Leader-Post: Celebrating the Value of Every Person

On December 3rd, 2019, COR was featured in the Regina Leader-Post in celebration of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

Read the article below:

To view online, visit: https://www.pressreader.com/canada/regina-leader-post/20191203/282175062982247

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!

 

Regina man with intellectual disability fulfills lifelong dream of working for fire department

Regina man with intellectual disability fulfills lifelong dream of working for fire department

It hasn’t been easy for Peter Rhodes to finally arrive at his dream job, following in the footsteps of his father who used to be a firefighter.

As a young child, a blast shook Peter Rhodes awake one night.

A furnace explosion caused the family’s house to catch fire while Rhodes and his sister were inside.

“I was scared,” he recalled in a recent interview. “I had no clothes on, nothing like that. I got seriously burned.”

Thanks to their neighbours who called for help, Rhodes and his sister were rescued by firefighters.

Now 47 year old, Rhodes — who lives with an intellectual disability — recalls that moment as one of the things that inspired his dream of working in fire services, a dream that has finally come true.

“I felt like giving up, but I didn’t,” said Rhodes from Regina Fire & Protective Services Fire Station No. 2 where he is the first employee hired with an intellectual disability.

It hasn’t been easy for Rhodes to finally arrive at his dream job, following in the footsteps of his father who was a firefighter.

Originally from B.C., his father died when Rhodes was three years old. His mother later died of lung cancer, and Rhodes bounced around in foster care before landing in Saskatoon and eventually Regina.

 

Regina Fire & Protective Services (RFRS) member Barry Szeles, from left, and Austin Bates work with 4to40 employee Peter Rhodes, who has an intellectual disability, at Fire Hall 2 in Regina.

For the past 10 years, he has been a client of Creative Options Regina (COR) — a non-profit organization that develops personalized support services for people with disabilities.

He has worked a few jobs around the city thanks to a program jointly operated between COR and the University of Regina’s Campus for All called 4to40, which connects people experiencing disabilities with forward-thinking employers.

But none compare to this one.

“He was so excited, even after … he went down to the fire hall for the first time,” said Donna Flaman Johnson, an inclusive employment broker for 4to40. “He left that day on top of the world.”

Rhodes works two, three-hour shifts a week helping his platoon with daily chores and inventory checks.

“Fire service is about helping people and when you hear Peter’s story, you can’t help but want to help him fulfill his dream,” said Kevin Digney, assistant chief of operations.

Starting off slow, they’ve introduced Rhodes to one platoon at station No. 2. Together, they do daily chores like sweeping, mopping, washing the trucks and hoses and more. He always has a job coach with him for guidance and so he’s not alone in the station if the platoon has to go out on a call.

His favourite part, he said, is washing tools.

Rhodes worked his third shift on Wednesday, but he has already blended into the team like he’d been there all along, sipping coffee in the kitchen and going about his tasks with quiet confidence. Everyone appeared at ease, despite how new the situation was for all of them.

4to40 employee Peter Rhodes, fourth from left, who has an intellectual disability, stands with his job coach Connor Brown, fifth from left, and the day crew at Fire Hall 2 in Regina. TROY FLEECE / Regina Leader-Post

 

4to40 employee Peter Rhodes, who has an intellectual disability, works with Regina Fire & Protective Services Austin Bates at Fire Hall 2 in Regina.

He was quiet and a little shy, but broke into a hearty laugh after Digney joked about photoshopping a fellow firefighter’s lush hair onto his balding head in any photos going to press.

“I was happy,” said Rhodes of when he found out he’d got the job. “I know I can do it.”

But not everyone felt the same way. Rhodes’ roommate told him he couldn’t do it, called him a coward.

“I told him I’m … no coward,” said Rhodes, whose very presence in the station proved his old roommate wrong.

He’s doing well, said Digney, and it’s clear that the station is happy to have him as they guide him through his duties with respect and compassion.

“What they told me when I was down at the fire hall was that working for the fire department is like being part of a family,” said Flaman Johnson in an interview.

“Here they are basically bringing Peter in like he’s one of them — to support him, to encourage him, to give him new experiences and (get him to) try new things, to grow,” she added. “That’s exactly what family is all about.”

Flaman Johnson, who’s been with 4to40 since last fall, met Rhodes in early spring and has interviewed him extensively about the things he likes to do so that his work with the fire department would be meaningful, an important part of any job, for any person.

She said she loved him from the moment she met him and saw immediately the love others had for him too.

“Everybody just wanted this to work out for Peter because they know this has literally been his dream for years,” said Flaman Johnson. “I just find it so fulfilling and so inspiring when I see organizations open themselves up to this type of work arrangement.”

Seeing Rhodes in the fire station, you can tell he’s just proud to be there, she said.

And it’s a step in the right direction, said Digney, in the city’s commitment to having a diverse and inclusive workshop.

“It’s new,” said Digney. “The fire service is traditional, a lot of culture and it’s time that we have a new tradition.

“He’s been looked after very well from the guys at the station here and as we move him out to the different platoons and the different stations I have no doubt he’ll be embraced and treated as one of our own.”

Rhodes’ message to those who haven’t found their way to their own dream job yet?

“It’s not easy to come here at all,” he said. “It takes time.”

But he didn’t give up.

4to40 employee Peter Rhodes, left, who has an intellectual disability, with his job coach Connor Brown at Fire Hall 2 in Regina.

jackerman@postmedia.com

View Full Article Here.

 

It’s not goodbye, it’s see you later!!

One of the most important questions I ask every new applicant that wants to join COR is why did you apply here and most will say it’s because they want to help people. Whenever I’m gathering feedback in our annual survey about what everyone likes about COR, the vast majority of answers will say they love the people. And whenever I’m meeting with someone to do an exit interview, I’ll ask what they will miss the most about COR and everyone always says they’ll miss the people.

It is with a heavy heart that I announce I will be transitioning out of my role with COR to join the Human Resources Team at the University of Regina. This is something that found me by surprise and presents an opportunity to further my professional development in such a way that I couldn’t miss out on. Although I am excited for this new challenge, it feels bittersweet because I’m also saddened to leave you all. There’s nothing that can replace the culture at COR. We’ve got something really special here and I’m forever grateful that I got to be part of it. I’ve grown as a person in ways that I could never have imagined and probably still haven’t fully realized.

I remember applying for the position on a whim with tempered expectations and soon after found myself feeling excited about the possibility of becoming part of something very unique. I remember saying I’d be happy to fill any position available and upon stepping into my role I felt like it was too good to be true. I remember thinking about how I didn’t want to fail or let anyone down or have someone find out I wasn’t good enough. For the first several months I referred to a dozen different sticky notes and jotted down things like “don’t say shift!” or “what’s a CLSD?” What I learned very quickly was that COR is a safe place to learn and grow. You can make mistakes, step out of your comfort zone and truly make a positive impact in the lives of others. I’ve been lucky enough to be here for almost four years and in that time I’ve had the pleasure of welcoming many of you into this family and watching many others develop into absolute rock stars.

You are all amazing people and you have taught me so much in ways I cannot describe. You are the most caring, compassionate and supportive people I’ve ever met and I’m grateful to have worked with you. As COR continues to thrive in the community, challenge the status quo and change the way our society views and values people, I am excited to watch and support all the work that will continue to make our community a better place.

Thank you COR for taking a chance on someone who didn’t know much other than the fact he wanted to help people. I am grateful for all the opportunities I’ve had to grow personally and professionally. It’s not goodbye, it’s see you later!!

Rory McCorriston,

COR Family Member

 

I have allowed the practices of Gentle Teaching to bleed into all aspects of my life

Making sure someone is feeling safe, loved, and engaging in whatever we are doing has allowed so many relationships to flourish and has made me a better care giver and support

When I started supporting with Creative Options Regina two years ago I had a very different understanding of Gentle Teaching. After supporting in this environment, having the pleasure of taking both Gentle Teaching Levels 1 & 2, as well as the countless other training’s provided by COR, I have completely transformed my understanding, and my way of supporting. Being able to support someone in such a positive environment, one that is flexible to the needs of the individuals rather then having them bend to the needs of the organization, has allowed me to see so much growth and positivity in the lives of the individuals I support, as well as one’s I have had the pleasure of meeting and spending time with. I have allowed the practices of Gentle Teaching to bleed into all aspects of my life. Making sure someone is feeling safe, loved, and is engaged in whatever we are doing has allowed so many relationships to flourish and has made me a better care giver and support.

I have allowed the practices of Gentle Teaching to bleed into all aspects of my life

Lauren,

COR Family Member