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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

Proceeds from 2019 India Night donated to 4to40

 

Read the story on the UofR website: https://www.uregina.ca/external/communications/feature-stories/current/2019/11-07.html

 

 

Our families our coming together!

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!

Visit: www.inclusionregina.ca or www.creativeoptionsregina.ca

 

 

4to40 Transit Travel Training featured on Global News Regina

Regina program helps those with disabilities transition from Paratransit to city buses

Transit Travel Training

For people with disabilities, getting around the city can be daunting. But a unique program launched last year is making a difference in helping those individuals gain freedom and independence.

The Travel Training Program started as a pilot project in 2018 and is a partnership between the city, the University of Regina and Creative Options Regina.

Independence is one of the greatest things that’s come from this program,” said Ben Morris, creative director with Creative Options Regina. “It’s helped people get out there easily and as much as they want to.

“The first person who went through with us in its trial year was actually able to find gainful employment, based on the fact that they had learned to use conventional transit.”

“You had to book [Paratransit] in advance, and sometimes, if you wanted a trip the day of, you weren’t guaranteed a trip,” Pagan said.

But that all changed last year, when the pair made the jump to city transit after graduating from the program.

“We’ve been able to get around the whole city, basically,” Paige said. “Some places that we’ve never been before; other places we are going constantly because it’s our favourite hangout place. It’s just a sense of freedom where we don’t have to rely on Paratransit all the time.”

When it comes to making the switch, it comes down to fear for many. But thanks to transit travel trainers like Dylan Morin, who also went through the program, that fear quickly goes away.

“I’ve seen growth in a lot of people and hopefully it gets the demand off of Paratransit and more on regular transit,” Morin said. “It gives you the freedom and the chance to go wherever you want, whenever you want with hands-on training.”

So far, Morris is calling the program a success, saying the demand is increasing with two people currently on the waiting list.

“We’ve had quite a few asks to come out and speak to different organizations around the city, and every time we are there, we are getting questions about accessing the program,” Morris said.

For Pagan and Paige, the program means new opportunities and a new sense of confidence.

“You can’t live in fear,” Pagan said. “How do you know if you don’t try? I’ve learned that since I moved out, I always try new things and this is one of the best thing that’s ever happened to me.”

View the article on the Global News Regina website.

 

Caring for the caregivers is key for Creative Options Regina

Caring for the caregivers is key for Creative Options Regina

Employees at Creative Options Regina with a client. Supplied photo  

The job of providing supports for people with disabilities or those struggling with their mental health can take a heavy toll, though Creative Options Regina discovered when you care for the caregivers it benefits both the clients and the company.

This is their second year being named as one of Saskatchewan’s top employers. This year will mark Creative Options Regina’s 10th year in business though executive director Michael Lavis notes it was about seven years ago when the company started to refocus their efforts to create a healthier and happier work environment for their employees.

“The field of work we are in may not be physically demanding, but it’s very emotionally demanding,” he explained. “We need to ensure our employees feel supported and have the supports they need to be doing well both physically and mentally to be able to provide the quality care.”

Lavis said the key to providing this supportive work environment was to understand the needs and wants of their employees, which he credits as being the non-profit’s most valuable assets, and make sure they felt valued, respected and that their voices were being heard.

Not only do they offer their more than 200 employees flexible hours — including the opportunity to work shortened and condensed work weeks — and the option to telecommute, they also encourage the employees to share their passions — leading to the introduction of a number of sports teams, clubs and fun nights out.

“It’s about facilitating relationships both in and outside of work,” Lavis said. “When you think about the amount of time people spend in the workplace throughout their life, you would hope they have those relationships and connections with their coworkers.”

Putting these extracurricular activities in place is generally at a very minimal cost to Creative Options Regina, Lavis said. Even when there is a fee — such as the $1,000 entry fee to participate in the Regina Dragon Boat Festival — the amount of time and the number of employees who come out to support is more than worth it.

“All summer long they practice once a week, they’re engaged in this physical activity and connecting by doing something that they all love. So to me, thats $1,000 well spent,” he said. “Sometimes you just have to give it a try.”

Though Lavis notes it’s not always easy to manage the different needs of all their employees, he says this approach has also helped them retain employees longer — which in turn has helped maintain a sense of trust with their clients alongside the high quality of care they are known to provide.

“In the support services sector the turnover rate is quite, quite high and we’ve been year after year between nine and 14 per cent — which is a fraction of the provincial average,” Lavis finishes. “I believe a big part of that is because of the work environment we are cultivating and the attention we pay to our employees.”

Click here to view article on the Leader-Post site.

 

Never TMI website promotes accessible and comprehensive sexuality education for people with disabilities

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.

 

Website: www.nevertmi.ca

Further Information:

United Nations Population Fund: Young Persons with Disabilities: Global Study on Ending Gender-Based Violence, and Realising Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights

 

Thank You Mr. Mikes!

Regina charities get a hand from Mr. Mikes

Regina, SK, Canada / 620 CKRM The Source | Country Music, News, Sports in Sask

Two local charities will be receiving $500 each thanks to the Mr Mikes Steakhouse “Deeds Well Done” program.

Organizations were nominated by costumers between November and December last year.

General Manager of the Grasslands Ryan Pylatuk said the winning charities were then based on the impact they have on the community and willingness to help the most vulnerable.

“Family Service Regina was chosen. They work with seniors, adults, children and pregnant and parenting teens to help strengthen individuals and families by creating safe, inclusive and vibrant communities,” he said.

For the location on the east, Plyatuk said Creative Options was selected.

The restaurant chain further noted this provides them the chance to recognize and give back to those who contribute towards making the community a better place.

https://www.620ckrm.com/2019/01/20/201425/

 

Royal Roads University article on innovation features COR

“These solution-seekers want to tackle problems head on. This is not your traditional way of doing business.”

When you’ve got a big question with no clear answer, it’s time to innovate.

That’s what drew Glenda Tarnowski to Royal Roads Graduate Certificate in Corporate Social Innovation program.

As the director of professional practice for the College of Licensed Practical Nurses of Alberta (CLPNA), Tarnowski provides leadership support to licenced practical nurses (LPNs) in the delivery of safe, patient-centered care.

As the healthcare landscape changes and an aging population increases, so does the need for specialized and responsive healthcare.

She, along with the leadership team at CLPNA asked themselves, “How do we best prepare LPNs to meet the care needs of the changing demographic?”

Social innovation was made for questions like these, says Colleen McCormick, who teaches in the graduate certificate program and brings the principles and practices of social innovation alive as director of Connected Communities BC in the Ministry of Citizens’ Services.

“Social innovation is about co-creating solutions with the people who are living the problems,” she says. “Bringing diverse people and sectors together to radically collaborate on addressing a complex issue at the systems level is what makes the field of social innovation so fascinating to study and play in.”

McCormick says social innovators are driven by social impact, so they don’t care much for “Band-Aid” fixes.

“These solution-seekers want to tackle problems head on. This is not your traditional way of doing business.”

The six-month program is offered through Professional and Continuing Studies and is designed for those looking to incorporate social concerns and solutions into the very fabric of their organizations—whether in government, business or the non-profit sector.

Michael Lavis is the executive director for Creative Options Regina (COR), a non-profit organization that provides supports for adults and youth experiencing disability. He registered for the program to help him identify blind spots within the organization.

“The program is helping us better understand what drives innovation and to dissect and build a strong, healthy vibrant organization that has value for stakeholders,” he says.

Lavis says COR realized the benefit of focusing not only on the people who access supports, but also on caregivers. He says COR knows a strong, vibrant care team is key to providing exceptional care.

“We intentionally shifted our focus and looked at who all of our stakeholders are and what we’re doing to nurture those relationships,” he says. “The program is really helping us frame that.”

Assoc. Prof. Robert Mittelman, one of the program designers, says organizations are increasingly looking to build social needs into their business models.

“Corporate social innovation is about looking forward. It’s about using an intervention to address a social issue, whether it’s a new product, service or a change to how your organization operates,” Mittelman says. “It’s about putting that social issue at the centre of your business strategy.”

The blended program includes three applied courses that introduce participants to the foundations of corporate social innovation, design thinking and the principles of measurement and scale.

“Students go back to their organizations the next day, after a new module is released, and build change right from the start of the program,” Mittelman says.

 

August 28, 2018

By: Lisa Weighton

Click here to view the article on the RRU website.

Two organizations prove that nice guys can finish first!

Mastermind Toys and Creative Options Regina

September 17, 2018
Your Workplace Sept-Oct 2018
While they may not seem that similar on the surface, Mastermind Toys and Creative Options Regina (COR) are two organizations proving that when you take care of your employees, your employees will take care of your clientele. One is a toy retailer and one is a non-profit providing services to people with disabilities, but both focus on creating a warm and caring atmosphere and building a culture based on shared values.

The result? These two organizations have earned exemplary reputations with the communities they serve and enjoy unusually high staff retention rates for their industries.

Mastermind Toys

Mastermind has a unique philosophy for selling children’s toys and books. By fostering an educational approach, the company enriches not only the customer experience but the employee experience as well. In fact, they enjoy an average employee tenure of close to seven years — an almost unheard-of retention rate in retail stores.

Ryan Thorson, store manager of Mastermind Toys Terra Losa in Edmonton, Alberta, believes that the company’s workplace culture promotes a fun and inviting atmosphere that lives up to their motto: “We take play seriously.”

“I wanted to find a company where I could not only pursue career advancement,” Thorson says, “but also have it be a place that shares my values… a family-like atmosphere and a track record for treating its employees with fairness and respect.”

Mastermind was originally opened in 1984 by brothers Andy and Jon Levy in Toronto to sell educational software to families excited about their new home computers. Two years later, they opened a store in the Ontario Science Centre. Now with 60 stores across the country, and growing, Mastermind’s CEO, Jon Levy, understands the impact that his company can have on the communities where the stores are located.

In 2015, the company launched a partnership with WE (formerly Free the Children), a charity that supports youth education in Canada and overseas. In 2016, Mastermind stores raised $400,000, but the initiative isn’t just about giving back to the community; it’s also about engaging employees.

“Anne [Baston, vice-president of marketing] and I started to talk about the charitable side of our business and what we could do to broaden our horizons from the standpoint of how our employees were engaged charitably,” says Levy.

After much deliberation and brainstorming, the company selected WE. Its educational mandate plays well with Mastermind’s objective to sell toys that educate.

When they launched the initiative, many of the company’s younger employees were already familiar with WE from their school days. Selecting a charity with broad appeal, and that their employees were already comfortable with, made for a smooth, easy transference of enthusiasm from the top down. To drive home the impact that they are making through their charitable efforts, Mastermind takes managers of the stores that raise the most funds to Kenya on a yearly basis.

“Behind every great manager is up to 60 employees that get that store to greatness. Two store managers went with me and my wife, Karyn, who also works in the organization, the first year. The rest of their teams back in Canada got a fantastic reward package … Even though they didn’t go on the trip, they were highly congratulated with lots of prizing.”

Levy is always on the lookout for ways to connect with his employees. He started creating videos for the staff that, in addition to educating about a product, also introduces him to all employees in a playful, easygoing manner. This, in turn, helps break down uncomfortable hierarchy in the organization.

“Our inner kid, the way we like to play and what we think resonates with the community, really comes through in a personal way [with this] video program… so, it’s kind of fun,” he says. “When I visit stores, the newly hired staff say, ‘I know you, you’re on the video.’”

“Every store you go into, whether it’s out in B.C. or in Nova Scotia, it feels like family,” says Baston. “There’s a community feeling to all of the stores. Despite the fact that we’re growing… Mastermind does a really good job of hiring people with similar values. You can feel that when you walk into the stores, into the home office. I think that makes it very different from other retailers.”

Creative Options Regina (COR)

A culture of gentleness is woven into all aspects of the organization at COR — not just in how the individuals and families COR serves are treated, but in the people it hires and how each employee is mentored.

Michael Lavis, executive director, says that their method of “gentle teaching” is not specific to disability but rather can be applied to all people constructing supports for marginalized populations. “There are a handful of organizations — I think there are four of us now in Canada — working on this philosophy… which is really the foundation, the bedrock of the work that we do. And this is rooted in whether or not a person feels safe and valued — putting relationships at the core of care giving,” says Lavis.

The company is the seventh-largest care provider in Saskatchewan and employs 200 staff who serve 20% of the most challenging cases in the province’s service delivery system. Like other service providers, COR is contracted by the government to provide personalized support services for people with disabilities. What differentiates them from other providers, though, is the intentional shift they made to focus on their employees — the caregivers.

“By making that shift — by making sure we are nurturing our caregivers and that our employees are feeling cared for — what ends up happening is they give the utmost care to [our clients],” says Lavis. “So, it’s shifting the focus as an organization to our employees — to what the employee experience looks like, what the employee wants, what they need from us to feel supported and how we can really understand what is meaningful to our employees.”

Organizational culture is a popular topic these days, but Lavis challenges people to go one step further and work on shared values, as he feels that that has the greatest influence on culture. “What drives culture is value alignment. That’s something we’ve focused on, understanding the values of our employees … and where we see that alignment and shared common purpose,” he says.

In the Saskatchewan disability services sector the employee turnover rate was around 60% in 2015. By contrast, the turnover rate at COR has remained at a steady 9 – 14% since the company’s inception.

Creating a caring staff atmosphere is about understanding who is working for you and what is important to them. For most employees, a fair wage is critical. But for many that is only a small piece of a larger picture. There are other crucial factors, such as whether or not employees feel engaged and if their ideas and suggestions are listened to and valued. At COR, they have found that exploring employees’ passions and helping them bring those passions to life in the workplace is key.

“We have to have that conversation with our employees, because we need to know what it is that they want and need and whether that is something we are able to provide,” says Lavis.

Helping employees bring their passions into the workplace enables them to impart important life skills. For example, one COR employee who loves cooking offered to teach other employees to cook. As the average staffers’ age is 28, this is a skill that some of them may lack. COR helped the employee develop a monthly cooking class with regular attendance of 10-15 staff, who can now pass that skill onto COR clients.

Lavis says they plan to develop an art initiative next. The idea was brought to him by two employees who wanted to share their passion for art. “It’s a pivotal moment,” says Lavis. “A matter of us saying, ‘Yeah. I’d love to help you. How are we going to do this?’

“It’s easy to think of barriers of why they can’t do it. And that takes the wind out of their sails. But, by saying, ‘I love this idea. We just have to think it through a little bit more. Let’s talk.’ — Then, they are motivated and energized, and you know what? [Here we are now] developing an art studio. There were lots of barriers, but we have been able to work through [them] to be able to see it realized.”

Lavis believes that a customer-centric focus has actually harmed many companies. “People tend to focus on the customer and forget about their employees,” he says. “I think that, whether it’s a for-profit or not-for-profit business, if we want to provide the utmost care for those we are contracted to provide services to, that starts with us caring for our employees. If they feel well cared for, they are going to provide great care.”

 

Click here to view on the Your Workplace website.