Gentle Teaching has transformed the person I am as well as the person I aspire to be in many ways. What started out as a “job” in the beginning, quickly became “spending time with the guys” and this was because of Gentle Teaching. I think essentially, Gentle Teaching allowed me to understand the importance of living in the moment and appreciating the little things in life. I started realizing quickly the opportunities for learning and life experiences that these guys I support had missed out on through their lives because people who were supposed to “care” for them, honestly did not care. Showing them first hand that they are just like everyone else and have the freedom to make their own choices was sometimes anxiety filled. In the end though, not only did they learn something, but I did as well – how much I took for granted in my own life.
Gentle Teaching really made me assess my own life to what I viewed as important and what others thought I viewed as important because these are very different categories. Gentle Teaching has allowed me to view situations from multiple perspectives which enhances my problem solving skills. I think someone cannot fully understand this culture of gentleness until they are fully immersed in it. In order to fully understand the culture of gentleness, it is important to allow yourself to be vulnerable not only with the individuals you support, but your support team as well. I’ve never had a job where I could discuss personal struggles with a coworker and come out feeling more equipped to support rather than being torn down and humiliated. I have truly been blessed with an amazing COR family and continue to grow and thrive because of them. Gentle Teaching quickly becomes a way of life and you begin to realize how often you use it outside of supporting. I look forward to using my experience with the culture of gentleness in my future endeavours of nursing and beyond.
Shelbi, COR Support
On September 23rd, COR hosted a Support Appreciation Night at the Saskatchewan Science Center to celebrate the incredible people that form part of the COR family! With approximately 80 people in attendance, the evening was filled with Potato Chip Challenges, Segway races, Nitrogen Ice Cream, prizes, tasty food and splendid company! A special thanks to everyone at COR for their commitment and dedication to cultivating a culture of gentleness! Your passion is truly inspirational!
Through my 3 and a half years of experience with COR and the philosophy of Gentle Teaching, I have attained a wealth of knowledge and an everlasting impact on my life. When I first started with COR, just like most people, I was a bit skeptical of the whole ideology of unconditional love. In latent terms, I perceived it as ‘give them whatever they want’ or ‘they can do whatever they want without consequences’. At the time, I failed to realize it was so much more than that. The whole basis of Gentle Teaching isn’t trying to change the individual’s behaviour, but rather changing our approach on how we serve the individuals.
My ability to use Gentle Teaching had never really been challenged until I began supporting at a new home and more specifically supporting one individual at that home. When I began, to be 100 percent honest, I was quite nervous. I had heard all the stories that this was the hardest team to support on. To my surprise, it really wasn’t! I got off to a good start with two of the guys. The only one I hadn’t connected with was one of the guys. Every time I would enter his space or try to interact with him, he would completely shut me down. This really bugged me personally. I am the type of person who really likes to get along with everybody, and at times, will over step boundaries to be liked by that person. This happened one day when I was supporting him. I came in that day with what I thought was a solid game plan. I was going to force myself to stay with him, we were really going to joke around and have an awesome time together. I also had the idea to take him to a Rider practice that day thinking it was going to be an amazing experience. I was completely wrong. Sure, he enjoyed the idea of going to Rider practice and seeing all his favourite players, but he still didn’t feel safe around me. I struggled to interpret what he was saying numerous times throughout the day and it led to numerous negative moments, the worst being at the Rider practice where he hit me. After that day, I came to realize that by forcing myself to be in his space, I had removed one of the most fundamental and most important pillars of Gentle Teaching; feeling safe.
In order to fix this, I needed to change how I provided care, while also trying to encompass the tools of Gentle Teaching to build the four pillars. For the next couple of months, I took a step back and really focused on observing, rather than forcing myself into situations for my own personal reasons. I was selective and patient in choosing the times that were appropriate to help strengthen his sense of feeling safe around me. Most of these interactions were focused around watching sports games or going out to grab a drink from 7/11. I tried keeping the interactions short and consistent allowing him to become comfortable around me. As time passed, I was able to get him to feel safe by changing how I provided for him. Once I had the sense of feeling safe around me, the other three pillars (feeling loved, feel loving towards others, and feeling engaged) came much more naturally.
Through my experience with all the individuals I support, they have had an everlasting impact on my life. They have taught me if I adjust how I provide care and unconditionally love them, rather than force them to be who they are not, that they will reciprocate it back in their way.
Brydon, COR Family Member
Coming from a standard 9-5 job and not really knowing what all was out there for employment, COR seemed like it could be a new experience, but nothing more! Right from the minute I sat down for my interview I learned that I could not be more wrong. Everything felt different. In the sit down interview we hardly even spoke about the job! Sure I learned what I’d be doing, where I would be spending most of my time, and what was expected of me, but it was warmer than that.
The man who interviewed me asked what I liked to do. He actually cared about getting to know me! We talked about everything from the gym and martial arts; what I initially thought was an interview turned quickly into a conversation. I was spending time talking to someone, getting to know someone.
The feeling of having someone care about you and actually want to know, and include you in something this special was amazing! This feeling has only become more intense.
It is a feeling that has began to resonate within myself. I care about looking after and genuinely appreciate the young lady I support. I want to see her do all the things she has always wanted to experience. Watching her grow and learn that we are not the institutions she was accustomed to is uplifting to be a part of.
The work we do is not about a pay cheque. The organization doesn’t allow for people with that mindset to exist within it. It grows us, and it is the 4 pillars that COR stands upon which make it so: safe, loved, loving and engaged are 4 fundamental beliefs in COR that shook my ideas of what a “job” was supposed to be. It isn’t a job! It’s a Culture of Gentleness, and it is what we strive in COR to instill within ourselves and in the people around us. It is those fundamental values that take this “job” and changed it into a community.
Cole, COR Support
Family members and friends of COR are invited to join us for an evening discussion on a Culture of Gentleness as a Promising Practice, with special guest: Deirdre Mercer, Center for Positive Living Supports (Michigan, USA). This interactive and powerful learning experience will better your knowledge of the important role of a gentle caregiver. Space is limited. Please contact Michael for more details.
The Saskatchewanderer spent some time this spring hanging out around COR capturing some footage of Patrick and his friends! Here is what he had to say:
“No two people are the same. That is the philosophy behind Creative Options Regina (COR), an organization that provides personalized support services for people with disabilities. The staff at COR tailor supports for each individual to help them discover their talents and interests and to help them reach their personal goals. COR has helped Patrick find full time work, develop an active social life and live independently in his own home. I first had the pleasure of meeting Patrick during a sports night at the Core Ritchie Community Centre in Regina, and I immediately understood his nickname — Energizer Bunny.”
A special thanks to the Government of Saskatchewan (Ministry of the Economy) and Neil Fisher (The Saskatchewanderer) for making this video possible!
I consistently strive to build and maintain a culture of gentleness among the individuals I support and spend time with. When I am in someone’s home I try to put myself in their shoes. Who am I to come into this person’s home with demands and unrealistic expectations? Trying to be mindful of what I say/how I say it and how I present myself to the person receiving support is always at the forefront of my thoughts. By using the four tools (presence, eyes, hands, and words) positively, I continually try to build on the relationships I share with the individuals I serve.
Ensuring that person feels safe where they are and who they’re with is an important first step. Afterwards is the point at which the person can begin to be stretched and grow. Remembering that the relationship I have with the person I’m supporting is one of interdependence, allows me to teach as well as learn. This is an attitude that I attempt to maintain both within COR with the individuals being supported as well as in my other social circles.
Jordan, COR Support
Every year we celebrate the people who are committed to making our organization great! This year, COR Supports gathered for an evening of fun and gaming at a Casino Night hosted by the Tartan Lounge!
I cannot express how fortunate I am to work alongside such a dedicated, compassionate group of people. You are all remarkable individuals and I sincerely appreciate your determination and commitment to creating a culture of gentleness within COR.
I know our work can be challenging at times, but I truly believe that by working together, remaining strong and committed to our mission, we will succeed in achieving our goal of building a brighter future for those we serve.
Thank you for everything that you do. You are all truly a source of inspiration.