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Check out what’s been going on in our world!
Check out what’s been going on in our world!
Kelly Schnurr is one of the astonishing people we are highlighting in our November 2017 e-newsletter. Kelly is currently completing prerequisite courses for a degree in Social Work at the University of Regina. He is also volunteering with Astonished! To read more about Kelly and some of the other astonishing people in the Astonished! community click here……
Landon Sawden is the newest A! Student Researcher. Landon started at the A! Teaching and Learning Centre in September and he is actively pursuing his goals. Each Student Researcher works with a group, of their choosing, to identify their Strengths, Dreams, and Needs. Landon recently met with his group and identified two big goals: 1-To move out of his family home into age appropriate housing that supports his specific needs. 2- To succeed as a degree student at the University of Regina.
For most 25-year old’s these can be big goals, but if you add in the need for accessible housing, support with some personal care, accessible transportation, someone to take notes in class, and a low fixed income, the barriers to achieving these goals can seem insurmountable.
Landon is identifying what he is looking for in housing and researching the housing options in Regina. He is learning about the enormous cost of some locations, the long wait lists, and the wide range in quality of housing and supports. We will all benefit from Landon’s research because there are many in our community who want to know about accessible affordable housing, what is available, and how the system works to access such housing.
Landon is registered as a degree student at the University of Regina. Prior to this Landon was part of the U of R Campus for All Program where he audited classes and had the support of a buddy for things like note-taking and getting familiar with the campus. This semester Landon is taking Psychology 101, his first class toward his degree. He was able to receive a U of R Accessibility Grant to help with some of the costs, and he now has a volunteer note-taker, but this is a time-consuming process for Landon and he has some great suggestions on how to make it more efficient for everyone.
Landon is trying to juggle class time, study time, A! Teaching and Learning Centre time, travel time (via ParaTransit), researching housing options, and occasionally getting enough sleep. He is up and in his chair for more that 50% of every day and he wants and needs more down time. The good news is Landon is a man on a mission and he has a wonderful team in his court. Welcome Landon.
Low floor buses are on all Regina bus routes and allow for easy access on and off the bus since low floor buses have · No stairs to climb · The ability to ‘kneel’ to get close to curb level · A low-angle ramp that unfolds to allow people with wheelchairs, scooters, baby carriages, or carts to board the bus.
A! Student Researchers Kennen Dorgan, Kaitlyn Hoar, and Sean Davis took their first rides on City of Regina public buses in October.
Sean has a network with the Realm Foundation. His network facilitator, Cindy Leggott, suggested he expand his transit options by trying out the regular city buses (Sean also uses the services of ParaTransit). Sean and his teammates Alix Norum and Parker Florell, prepared for their ride by checking transit maps, planning travel time, then Parker and Alix did a test run. This was a clever idea because they got on the wrong bus and saw much of the city over a two-hour period. Sean was happy to miss that experience. On their actual travel day, they went from the University of Regina to the Cornwall Centre and returned to the University. It was smooth sailing, and Parker got a new name. A person standing outside the mall saw Parker and called out, ‘Hey Cowboy Man’ because of his distinctive cowboy hat. You can check out their trip photos here
These are their travel tips: If you have a large power chair take the bigger spot behind the bus driver, there is an accessible stop button beside this space, push the button to alert the driver that you will need the ramp lowered at the next stop, you use the same bus pass as the one for ParaTransit, and if you need someone to assist you on the bus your assistant does not need to pay a bus fare.
The team of Kennen, Kaitlyn, Hannah Merk, and Julia Peters chose the same bus route as Sean’s team. To prepare for their trip they talked to ‘Team Sean’ about their experience, phoned the City Transit Line (306-777-7433) for bus information (very helpful), and learned some things from their bus driver. They all agreed that using public buses was a lot easier than they thought it would be. They stopped for lunch at the mall, did some shopping, and Kaitlyn loved getting her eyebrows threaded before returning to the University. You can check out their trip photos here.
These are their travel tips: There are two spaces for wheelchairs, with tie-downs for the space behind the driver, and on the opposite side, a device that holds the wheelchair in place.They were all impressed with this device. In the space behind the driver the person in the wheelchair faces the front of the bus, on the opposite side the person in the wheelchair faces the back of the bus.
Additional tip – if you are waiting at a bus stop and not sure when your bus will arrive, text 306-596-6136 and put the bus stop number in the message (the number is at the top right of the bus stop sign). You will get a reply telling you when the next bus should arrive at your stop.
Dr. Brenda Rossow-Kimball, Astonished! Board Chair, and Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Kinesiology and Health Studies at the University of Regina, brings together Strengths Perspectives theory, and conversations with the parents, founders, and vision keepers who began Astonished!
Historically, the dominant narrative in the ‘helping’ professions such as social work, disability studies, and medicine have taken a ‘deficits-based’ approach; a professional assesses an individual’s problems and creates an intervention to ‘deal’ with their inadequacies, illness(es), deficits, lack of achievement or functioning, and so on (Anderson & Heyne, 2012). The nature of the ‘helping work’ undertaken by professionals is situated in a negative state and defined by one’s problems. The strengths perspective is an attempt to write a counterstory of possibility, hope, expectation, and independence in response to a dominant grand narrative of inadequacy, hopelessness, underachievement, and dependence.
Saleebey (2009) writes that the incentive to develop a strengths perspective is a response to “our culture’s continued obsession with psychopathology, victimization, abnormality, and moral and interpersonal aberrations” (p. 2). For example, a deficits approach sees the person as a ‘case’ or ‘diagnosis’ whereas the strengths perspective sees the person as unique with talents and resources; the deficits approach creates an intervention that is problem-focused whereas the strengths perspective will initiate support that is possibility-focused; the deficits approach sees the professional as the expert whereas the strengths perspective sees that individuals, families, and communities are the experts; finally, the deficits approach aims to eliminate illness or dysfunction whereas the strengths perspective aims to enhance one’s well-being and quality of life (Anderson & Heyne, 2012).
“Families are the basic, foundational social units in every society (DeFrain & Asay, 2008, p. 2), yet research on ‘families’ has typically taken a deficits-based approach by emphasizing the problems or weaknesses in families or by highlighting the individuals in the family unit who causes ‘problems’ or stress. For families who live alongside a child experiencing disability, the dominant narrative is negative, citing the experience as stressful (Aneshensel, 2014), depressing (Emerson, 2003), hopeless, ‘copeless’, laborious, and burdensome, leading to family dysfunction and breakdown (McConnell & Savage, 2015). However, “If one looks only for problems in a family, one will see only problems. If one also looks for strengths, one will find strengths” (Defrain & Asay, 2008, p. 5).
My thinking has been inspired by the initiative and ingenuity of the parents and vision keepers who began Astonished! many years ago. Because little research focuses on the positivity and strengths within families when facing new and unexpected challenges, I thought the strengths perspective would be an appropriate framework in which to think about the lived stories of mothers and fathers who are parenting a family unit that is experiencing disability.
The strengths perspective suggests that when facing adversity, we ought to put the lens of focus on “what people want their lives to be like, and what resources and strengths they have or need to get there” (Saleebey, 2006, p. 12), I have learned that families, indeed, pull on their strengths and resources to regain and maintain the coherence that existed prior to disAbility. As one parent stated so well, “Everybody sets a bar for their family standards. Ours simply adjusted and now this is our normal. You readjust your normal.” For families experiencing disability, the framework of the strengths perspective may be a response to the longstanding dominant narrative that suggests the experience of parenting is primarily laborious, onerous, family-breaking, and dysfuntional. Families carry on [with] “one foot in front of the other”, “extreme strength”, and “no fear”.
“It’s just ordinary life.”
We celebrated the last A! Dance Project of the year – Halloween Edition!
With instruction from our friend MacKenzie Drumm, we found our own rhythms, channeled our inner Halloween spirits, and danced to some spooky tunes. Sean took the prize for the best Spooky Spirit. Thank you to the Saskatchewan Community Initiatives Fund for your generous support of the A! Dance Project. To see photos from the evening click here…..
Photo: Ashley, Megan, Amanda
It is amazing how much can happen in two months. Check out what has been happening at Astonished! during July and August 2017. We are having a wonderful time creating inclusive culture.
Photo: Bobbi-Jo Schmitz, Kevin Ma, Kaitlyn Hoar
We work in inclusive community to address barriers facing young adults with complex physical disAbilities (core members) by creating opportunities for teaching and learning, social, recreational and cultural engagement, and for employment and housing.
The Big Sky Centre for Learning and Being Astonished Inc.
University of Regina
3737 Wascana Parkway
Regina, SK S4S 0A2
Bonnie Cummings-Vickaryous, Executive Director, 306-737-9560