Hillary Moffatt

Changing your life path is not easy at any age but sometimes life swoops in and invites you to make a change. Four years ago, Hillary Moffatt was a third-year apprentice electrician, pregnant with her second child, and living with excruciating back pain. Yoga was the only thing that helped alleviate the back pain, and yoga became the path that intrigued Hillary. Now twenty-four, the mom of two children (5 and 2.5), half way through her third year in Health Promotion in the Faculty of Kinesiology and Health Studies at the University of Regina, Hillary is volunteering with Astonished! in our Yoga for Everybody class.

Hillary has completed her 200 hour Yoga teacher training and is currently working towards her 500 hour Yoga teacher certification. She teaches yoga at Oxygen Yoga and Fitness where she runs a kids Yoga program, and also teaches yoga to a boys’ basketball team (13 and 14-year old’s) for an hour each week. Her dream is to create an inclusive yoga program for children and youth ages 2-18, so volunteering with the Astonished! Yoga for Everybody, which is led by Rebekah Lindenbach and Ruth Blaser, seemed like the perfect place for Hillary to volunteer.

Hillary says “I love what I am learning about how people practice yoga in a wheelchair. When I teach yoga, the hardest part is to get people to feel relaxed and feel grounded physically and mentally. At Yoga for Everybody, everyone is able to come into shavasana (the final pose of any yoga class) in a way that is comfortable and relaxing for each individual participating.”

Welcome Hillary, we look forward to what we will learn together on this place where our paths cross.

Photo: Rebekah Lindenbach and Hillary Moffatt

Checking Out the City of Regina Low Floor Buses

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.

National Volunteer Week April 23-29, 2017

April 23-29, 2017 is National Volunteer Week . Volunteers are essential to Astonished! and we want to celebrate our volunteers. Kaitlyn Hoar, Astonished! Student Researcher, is organizing our 2017 volunteer appreciation event. One of Kaitlyn’s goals is to expand her event planning skills so this is a perfect opportunity for her. Kaitlyn is teaming with Bonnie Cummings-Vickaryous, A! Executive Director, to plan and host a volunteer appreciation event Thursday April 27, 2017 from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm at The Owl at the University of Regina . When asked how she plans an event like this Kaitlyn responded that she begins at the end, imagining the event, who is there, what it looks, sounds, and feels like, what people are eating and drinking (in this case it will be appetizers and beer), and how much fun everyone is having. She then plans the details to make the imagined event a reality. When asked about her biggest challenge in planning an event, she responded ‘the budget’, this made us laugh as we can all appreciate this particular challenge. Thank you to all our Astonishing volunteers. Volunteers keep your eyes on your email for your invitation in early April.
We hope you will join us on April 27th.

PHOTO: Kaitlyn Hoar and Bonnie Cummings-Vickaryous

Introducing Amanda and Kelsey

Amanda Mahoney is a graduate of the University of Regina (U of R) with a Degree in Kinesiology with a major in Human Kinetics. She is currently working on her Bachelor of Education (Middle Years) (U of R). Amanda realized she loved teaching kids how to be healthy and work-out, thus her commitment to a second degree. Kelsey Culbert is an Astonished! Student Researcher, and a student in the University of Regina Campus for All. Together they make a great team.

They meet weekly to work on two areas Kelsey has identified need strengthening: her comfort and competence with her new laptop, and her skills driving her power chair.

Kelsey was familiar and comfortable with her previous computer but when she upgraded to a new operating system she found it frustrating (many of us know how that is). Amanda and Kelsey work together to adapt the laptop to Kelsey’s needs, for example creating short-cuts on the desktop for the apps Kelsey uses regularly. Kelsey loves the portability of her laptop because she can now study anywhere.

They also practice wheel-chair driving on the track at the Paul Schwann Centre, University of Regina. Amanda says it is easy to team together because Kelsey is very clear about her needs. For example, Kelsey identified that she has problems staying to the right when she is driving so the track practice is helping her strengthen her driving skills.

Amanda is a volunteer with Astonished! but both Kelsey and Amanda say this is more like friends hanging out. Thanks Amanda and Kelsey.

PHOTO: Amanda Mahoney and Kelsey Culbert

Gestures of Love

Noticing gestures of love is like eating good food, it nourishes us. At Astonished! there are many gestures of love to notice. For example, the way the Student Researchers, staff, and volunteer lean in to listen to one another as they ‘check in’ at A! TLC; or the generosity and faithfulness of donors; or the way Core Members keep one another in the loop.

A particular gesture of love is the gorgeous quilt Phyllis Matt created specifically for our annual fundraising event, Wings on Our Wheels ~ Astonished! in Flight 2016.

Phyllis is a Registered Nurse who has lived and worked in many outpost communities in Northern Canada. Phyllis says ‘Part of quilting is about building a “Great Stash” of fabric and friends’. Quilting has been a great way for her to meet new people from all over Canada.  She now works and lives in Saskatoon and spends much of her spare time quilting and reading at the lake.

Thank you Phyllis for adding Astonished! to your ‘Great Stash’.

Celebrating Volunteers

How do you define ‘volunteer’? This is a situation where the dictionary definition misses the mark. There are no dictionaries that include ‘relationship’~ ‘mutual benefit’ ~ ‘fun’ ~ ‘creative’ ~ ‘generous’ but all of these words can describe volunteers and their experience at Astonished! In the photo above Brenda and Kennen are discussing their A! volunteer photography practice. Astonished! volunteers develop and share skills in the Astonished! Teaching and Learning Centre, participate in Social Club activities, are members of committees, help raise funds, serve on the A! Board of Directors, partner in research projects, and so much more.

We could not do what we do without the generous support of volunteers. On Wednesday, January 13th we hosted a wine and cheese party to say THANK YOU. To see photos from this evening please click here…..