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Check out what’s been going on in our world!
Check out what’s been going on in our world!
Robert Frost wrote ‘Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference’. Abbey Patallas knows this experience of the roads diverging. Five years ago, Abbey set out on the road of a degree in Kinesiology and Health Studies with a major in in Human Kinetics. Abbey is now in the last semester of her degree. In January she began her major practicum with Astonished! Some things have become clear to Abbey; she is really interested in the ongoing relationships with A! Student researchers, enjoys working one-to-one, developing and delivering programming, teaching and learning, and the social aspects of Astonished! She has discovered through experience that she is less interested in the clinical aspects of assessment and rehabilitation, but that knowledge of the human body will serve her well wherever her future takes her.
Abbey is working on the Astonished! Gala, approaching businesses and following up on sponsorships. She is part of the Astonished! Teaching and Learning Centre program three days a week with Melissa Turbuck, and she is working on a web-based sign-up-form for A! volunteers.
Outside of her work at A! and being a student, Abbey has a part time job working in administration at SaskTel. To balance all of this, she enjoys staying active and spending time outdoors. We are happy to have Abbey with us this semester and wish her all the best on the roads of her future.
At Astonished! our creativity originates in, and responds to, the unique lives of the A! Core Members. Mia Bell is a good fit for this creative process. Mia is in the first semester of her Interdisciplinary Masters Program in the Faculty of Media + Art + Performance (MAP) at the University of Regina. As part of her studies Mia is the support person working at the VOICE Lab.
Mia completed her undergraduate studies in Psychology with a minor in Visual Arts. With Dr. Rebecca Caines and Dr. Michelle Stewart , Mia worked on a community arts and disability project relating to Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). Being able to do her master’s studies across disciplines allows Mia to bring together her interests in disability studies, disability arts, improvising arts, and trauma studies.
As the support person in the VOICE Lab Mia recently introduced A! Student Researchers to the app ‘This is Sand’. The app encourages focused, creative, play, and self-expression. Mia is interested in visual arts as a way of expanding the expression of ‘VOICE’. Mia will be available to A! Student Researchers until September and we look forward to the unique expressions that will arise out of this collaboration. Welcome Mia.
On December 14th, 2019, Astonished! hosted our annual Holiday Feast. A! Core Members, families, friends, volunteers, and staff all joined in the festivities. With the Core Members, we began the event with a craft activity by decorating ornaments with paint and lots of glitter. When that was occurring, staff and volunteers were hard at work preparing the food. There was lots of food including turkey, mash potatoes, cabbage rolls, meatballs and to end the night, ice cream for dessert. We had fun coming together and catching up with one another over good food. Thank-you City of Regina for the Social Development Grant, which partially funds our monthly Astonished! Social Club event! Check out our Face Book post for more photos from the evening.
I did not plan to be transported by Disability Artivism Across the Flyover Provinces, but I was. At the registration table we were invited to choose red, yellow, or green dots to put on our name tags to signify how much interaction or engagement we wanted on that particular day. Those same name tags also welcomed us to the possibilities of gender identity. From the first moment of the opening address, when University of Regina Elder-in-Residence Lorna Standingready named her skin colour as a disability in a province where racism rules, I found myself in a new place of deeper perception and connections. A place where closed captioning, ASL interpretation, and Crip Time were normative.
Kirsty Johnston, a disability performance researcher and associate professor in the Department of Theater and Film at the University of British Columbia, was the keynote speaker. She took us through time, showing how disability has been represented and presented in theatre, and how these representations and presentations have been challenged and changed over time.
The morning panel of Traci Foster, John Loeppky, Kelsey Culbert, Joanne Weber , and Chelsea Jones addressed a wide range of topics. Traci Foster named some of the challenges facing actors with disabilities. For example, actors with disabilities are often expected to only play parts that are about disability, and work for less than the regular rates. Actors with disabilities are often typecast and not perceived as someone to audition for a role in a Shakespeare play or some other play.
The jam session with Dr. Helen Pridmore and the A! Student Researchers added vitality and fun to the day. At one point Mustafa Alabssi of Deaf Crows conducted the symposium participants (see photo above) and the room was alive with vocal sounds and laughter. Thank you to everyone who made this day possible. Please see the event brochure for a list of event supporters and sponsors and check out photos from the day. (Brenda MacLauchlan)
PHOTO: Mustafa Alabssi
What do you have when you put together 31 teams (99 participants), over 300 generous donors, one presenting sponsor (Scotiabank), three bronze sponsors (Dusyk and Barlow Insurance, Viva Optical, Uro Medical Supplies), one prize donor (The Owl), one practicum student (Hallie Burke), three A! staff (Bonnie Cummings-Vickaryous, Elisa Wong, Melissa Turbuck), and one volunteer Communications Coordinator (Brenda MacLauchlan)? You have generosity in motion, otherwise known as the 5th Annual Astonished! Walk and Roll Presented by Scotiabank.
In harmony with the UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities Astonished! hosted our 5th Annual Astonished! Walk and Roll Presented by Scotiabank on December 1, 2019, a family-friendly pledge event that was a tremendous success. Funds raised will be used to support the work of Astonished! Thank you to our amazing sponsors, participants, donors, and organizers. Click here to see photos from the event.
On Giving Tuesday we are celebrating the mutuality of giving. University of Regina students join our team for a semester or sometimes longer. Nick Cuthbert, Astrid Liska, and Bushra Burki are part of the A! team this semester.
After meeting with A! Executive Director Bonnie Cummings-Vickaryous and A! Program Coordinator Melissa Turbuck, Nick Cuthbert chose Astonished! as his practicum placement for his Bachelor of Sport & Recreation Studies. Nick felt Bonnie and Melissa would be good mentors in helping him achieve his learning goals: to expand his program management skills, and increase his communication skills in one-to-one, group, and professional settings.
Nick is the second son in his Weyburn family, and family is important to Nick. He brings his learned skills of caring, paying attention, and responding, to his practicum experience at Astonished! Nick partners with Student Researcher Sean Davis and they attend to Sean’s individual goals. The whole community benefits from the strong bond of respect, trust, and fun they have established. Nick also provides leadership in small group activities on Thursday afternoons in the Astonished! Teaching and Learning Centre. In his meetings with Bonnie and Melissa he has increased his knowledge and skills in budgeting and grant writing.
Students in Sport and Recreation Management develop a theoretical and practical understanding of the importance of recreational and leisure pursuits to a healthy, active and balanced lifestyle. Nick says his two major learnings have been: always focus on the person first, and in Yoga for Every Body he has learned a lot about connecting with a group of people.
Moving from a town of 575 people to a university of 16,501 full-time and part-time students can be a bit of a culture shock. Astrid Liska, from Raymore, Saskatchewan set two goals for herself as she entered this transition. She wanted to become more comfortable and confident.
Astrid is a first-year student in the Faculty of Nursing. As part of her CNUR 100 class (Practice Education: Community Partnerships) Astrid did 45 hours of placement work with Astonished! CNUR 100 focuses on communication and collaboration in a service-learning environment. Learners can begin integration of values of social justice and of socio-environmental perspectives, particularly the influence of social determinants of health. Astrid has been part of Yoga for Every Body and the A! Social Club. She says ‘I couldn’t have picked a better placement’.
She was drawn to nursing because ‘it is hands-on and interactive, and there are lots of options for what I do and where I do it.’ Astrid brought her willingness to learn and her attention to people and details to her work with Astonished! She has more than achieved her goals of becoming comfortable and confident. It has been great to have Astrid on the A! team this semester.
Bushra Burki is in her second year of Education at the University of Regina. She is working on a major in English and a minor in Chemistry. Bushra is interested in sciences and is curious about how things work together. She says this mindset informs her in both English and science.
Being curious about how things work together is also informing Bushra in her various roles this semester. In her Education Core Studies 300 class she is doing her field placement with grades seven and eight students at Dr. George Ferguson school. As a volunteer with Astonished! she is using the All Curriculum with Student Researcher, Kennen Dorgan, to help Kennen expand her literacy skills. Bushra has noticed how the All Curriculum highlights approaches that are useful to her in her field placement.
Bushra was also a leader in the Astonished! Summer Literacy program and you can learn more about Bushra on our Summer Literacy page . For Bushra one of benefits of being part of the Astonished! team has been getting to know individual people in the community.
Thank you to all of our volunteers and practicum students, past and present, and those we have yet to meet. Together we are making a difference.
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