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Check out what’s been going on in our world!
I am a Student Researcher in the Astonished! Teaching and Learning Centre (A!TLC). I graduated from Grenfell High Community School in 2011. I am the youngest in my family (except for my dog). I have two sisters and one brother. I also have one niece Zoey who I like to cheer on at baseball games. My brother Reed and his wife Renee are having a baby so I will have another niece or nephew by the end of this year!
Two and a half years ago, when I started at the Astonished! Teaching and Learning Centre (A!TLC), I was nervous because everything was new and the University of Regina is a big place. Now I am confident and comfortable with both the people and the place. I am so happy for each day that I spend at the A!TLC. It is a place where I can see my friends and a place where I can give and receive lots of support. Everyone there helps me reach for my dreams and we all have lots of fun together.
Making decisions can be hard for me, but once I know what I want I am focused and go for it. With the support of my family, friends, and Astonished! staff I take on all kinds of adventures. My sister Tanys is a professional photographer and I really like what she does. I want to become a better photographer so I do regular photography exercises as part of my work in the A!TLC. I have a special clamp that holds my iPad to my chair and I use a remote control to compose and take my photos. This helps me keep the iPad steady while I decide what I want in the photograph.
Last fall I was a mentor in the University of Regina Social Work class Issues in DisAbilities Studies. I liked mentoring the social work students in my team. Because I am developing my photography skills we photographed places in Regina that were inclusive. At the end of the course I told my mom “We aren’t focusing on disAbility, we are focusing on ability. I am helping them focus on what they can do to be good enablers in community.”
As part of the Astonished! Summer Literacy program I wanted to learn to text so I could send messages to my sister Lynice (you probably figured out my family is important to me). With the support of the Astonished! staff I really expanded my literacy skills and hope to keep doing so.
Right now I am planning a road trip to Alaska with my mom, dad, and my companion Silvia. It would be easier to fly to Alaska but the airlines won’t let me use my seat insert on the plane and I can’t travel without my seat insert. It provides the support that is necessary for my spine. My dad can make almost anything so he made a way for my seat insert to fit in the truck. We are going to drive to Alaska with our travel trailer. I have already started a blog for my trip. You can follow me at Kennen’s Dream Trip. I chose Alaska as a destination because Lynice and her husband Kris live there.
My next goal is a trip to Mexico! My companion Silvia is from Mexico and I would like to see her country. I have already met a lot of Silvia’s friends and family through Skype and Facetime, and am excited to say “Hola!” in person! There is so much to look forward to.
Ruth Blaser writes…..After six years in my role as Co-Chair and then Chair of the Astonished! Board of Connectors I am thrilled to announce that, as of the AGM 2015, Dr. Brenda Rossow-Kimball is our new Chair of the Astonished! Board.
I am moving to the position of Past-Chair (for one year) with responsibility for Donor Relations and Major Gifts.
I have been reading again, Lynn Twist’s book The Soul of Money. For more than 40 years, Lynne Twist has been a recognized global visionary committed to alleviating poverty and hunger and supporting social justice and environmental sustainability.
She says …
“I see fund-raising as Sacred Work. It is the privilege of facilitating the allocation of the world’s resources away from fear and toward that which we love. Philanthropy is not the accumulation of wealth, rather the word comes from the root meaning …. Love of human kind.”
Astonished! is about being and becoming inclusive community. It’s about creating opportunities based on people’s strengths, dreams and needs. It’s about self-determination, personalization and full citizenship. It’s about creating and sustaining organizations structures and governance that support planting these visions and core value in our lives, relationships and community, and more!
I am a lucky woman to be part of the Astonished! community, still with the same old shoes and now in a different chair.
I was introduced to Astonished! initially through my friend Sue Bland’s blog. She had been doing some work with one of the researchers and Kennen Dorgan’s picture appeared on her blog. I had known Kennen and her family when I lived in Grenfell so I was very interested in her connection with Astonished! I did a little research myself and was indeed astonished by the dreams and possibilities of this determined group of people! When I last saw Kennen she had graduated from high school and was looking forward to moving on as her sisters had done. The question was “to what?” She seems to have found an answer to this question! The work of Astonished! continues to enable her to discover and pursue her goals. As a former educator I am encouraged by the good work I see happening here and want to support it for Kennen and the other amazing people at Astonished!
An animated movie, really, are we going to watch an animated movie about a plus-sized inflatable robot Baymax, and prodigy Hiro Hamada, who team up with a group of friends to form a band of high-tech heroes? I expected to be bored; instead I was fascinated, both by the movie and by the group of us watching the movie.
The A! Social Club event ‘Lunch and a Movie’ turned out to be a perfect mirror of audience and movie. In both the movie and the audience we witnessed trust, courage, humour, and friendship. You might not think it takes courage and trust for lunch and a movie. But both are often required when you have a complex physical disAbility and you’re going to have lunch with others. A complex physical disAbility can impact a person’s ability to chew and swallow with ease. Eating together can be stressful. But this doesn’t stop the Astonished! Core Members and their friends from getting together for lunch and a movie. Like the friends in Big Hero 6 we trust each other to get it right, and when it doesn’t quite work the way we thought it would, we trust each other to find a different approach.
Oh yes, we could have also used the help of a high-tech hero to fix some of the quirks in two power chairs. Calling all high-tech heroes!
A tribute to Rebekah Lindenbach from the A! Leadership Team:
Let’s have three cheers for Rebekah Lindenbach! This hard worker and all around great lady has just completed her final contract as a member of the A! Leadership Team. While on this team, Rebekah enthusiastically planned and implemented many fantastic monthly events for the A! community. Rebekah is a true leader and she worked hard at each event to ensure that all A! Core Members had lots of fun and were able to fully participate in whatever activity that was taking place. And she did (and continues to do) it all with a big and bright smile on her face. Rebekah, your diligent effort and joking ways will be truly missed on the team and we hope, no we expect, to continue to see you out at many future events. Now though, you will able to take it easy and soak up all of the well-deserved fun as an honoured guest. Although we continue to welcome any suggestions from you that will help to keep us in line. 🙂
True to her passion for planning and hosting events, Rebekah threw a lovely spring BBQ to celebrate her work with her team. A big thank you for having us, Rebekah and a big THANK YOU for your great work over the past 5 (WOW, 5!) years. We will see you around very soon! Hip hip hooray!
University of Regina Social Work practicum student, Jessica Trevors, and A! Student Researcher, Kelsey Culbert, were photographed by A! Student Researcher, Rebekah Lindenbach, as part of a workshop on creating great photos with your iPad. At Astonished! we are using technology to tell our stories, to learn from others, to connect with the wider world, and to have fun. One way to stay connected with Astonished! is through our e-newsletter. Our May e-newsletter focuses on ways we are Making a Difference. You can check it out here….. Subscribing to our bi-monthly (6 times a year) free e-newsletter is easy. If you are not already a subscriber please click here to subscribe.
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