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Check out what’s been going on in our world!
Check out what’s been going on in our world!
What could be better than bringing together friends, farm, and food on a beautiful June afternoon? Rebekah Lindenbach, her mom Joy, and Rebekah’s extended family generously host this annual event for the Astonished! Teaching and Learning Center. Each year we learn something new about their ever-changing dairy and grain farm. There have been many changes over the past seven years, but some things are constant year-to-year; the warmth of the community, the excitement at being on a working farm, the delicious taste of warm cinnamon buns, and the way everyone takes to the baby calves. Thank you, Rebekah, Joy, and your Broyhill family for hosting us once again. To see photos of our day click here.
PHOTO: Zirka Petrowsky, Joy Lindenbach, Rebekah Lindenbach
Chelsea Jones, MITACS Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Regina, and Katherine Taylor, Program Coordinator at Astonished! will be presenting at the Canadian Disability Studies Association (CDSA) Conference ‘Circles of Conversation’, June 1-3, 2019 in Vancouver. Their presentation Critical Community Reflections on “Giving Voice” in Research focuses on the process to date in the creation and use of the Voice Lab.
The Voice Lab is a studio space established in 2018 by a four-person research team. It opened in February, and currently hosts six core members. The name VOICE Lab is an acronym. It stands for Vocally Oriented Investigations of Creative Expression.
As Chelsea writes’ “I take up voice following the work of Meryl Alper (2017), who ties communication technology to digital equity and reminds us that voice “is an overused and imprecise metaphor—one that abstracts, obscures, and oversimplifies the human experience of disability” (p. 5). As such, I try make clear from the get-go that we not in the business of “giving voice.” And, to keep the work critical, we need to tease out the ways in which questions of “voice” and disability crop up at the intersections of class, race, and rurality among others. We also need to uphold “voice” as politically significant. Indigenous, critical race, and feminist scholars have cautioned against “giving voice” for some time.”
Thank you, Chelsea and Katherine, for representing us at this conference. We wish you all the best and look forward to the insights you will glean.
PHOTO: Katherine Taylor and Chelsea Jones
When Harry Potter went to Hogwarts, he got to really know himself and tapped into his inner strength and skills. He knew suffering and loss in his life. With the help of his parents and his friends, he found his way and his power. Perhaps these are some of the reasons Crystal McLaughlin feels such a kinship with Harry. Crystal is in her final semester of a Bachelor of Social Work from the University of Regina (U of R). She began this process seven years ago, when her daughter was one. Crystal was working at the Regina Residential Resource Center and realized she wanted to be part of the positive changes in people’s lives.
These seven years have held love and loss and increased self awareness. Five years ago, Crystal met Darcy Ward. Two years ago, they married, and Crystal expanded her family of two to a family of five, including Darcy’s son and daughter. This past semester Crystal took a leave of absence from school because Darcy was seriously ill. Last month Darcy died of kidney failure. We offer our regards to Crystal and Darcy and their extended families.
With great losses like this we must each find our way to go on. This month Crystal began her major social work practicum with Astonished! Crystal says that this time with Astonished! is helping her carry on. Crystal loves to learn and she is learning about ways of communicating that do not involve speech. Crystal brings a unique vitality and self-awareness to the Astonished! community. During her studies at the U of R she learned that she has both attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and anxiety. She has found that music and dance help her stay focused and release tension.
Crystal has much to offer Astonished!, and Astonished! has much to offer Crystal, especially at this particular time in her life. We look forward to our time of learning and being together.
PHOTO: Crystal McLaughlin and Kennen Dorgan
Astonished! is currently looking for two summer students to work with the Astonished Program Coordinator to plan, implement, and evaluate a summer literacy program. The program is based on the strengths, dreams, and needs of participants. It includes expanding reading and comprehension skills, new technology and social media, numeracy, and exploring literacy skills around the city.
The summer positions will start the week of May 20th and end August 23rd.
Please send a cover letter and resume to Bonnie Cummings Vickaryous with the subject ‘Summer Employment’.
Applications will be accepted until 12:00pm on May 3rd, 2019.
Did you know that you can sit in your wheelchair on a bus, in an accessible van, and on some trains, but not on an airplane? So, if you require a wheelchair to get about in the world, and you must go a long distance, how do you get there? This is a problem Astonished! Core Member, Kennen Dorgan, and All Wheels Up are trying to resolve. All Wheels Up is a United States of America (USA) based organization that is testing the safety of wheelchairs in airplanes and petitioning the USA government (and now the Canadian government) for the creation of wheelchair accessible spaces on planes. Kennen Dorgan is organizing a letter writing campaign to the Canadian government.
This is the first paragraph of Kennen’s letter:
Dear Prime Minister,
My name is Kennen Dorgan. My dream is to fly to Alaska to visit my sister. I have a complex physical disAbility and I use a wheelchair for mobility. I cannot sit independently from my wheelchair and airplanes do not have designated wheelchair spots. Every summer I spend at least 108 hours of challenging and exhausting driving time to visit with my sister in Alaska. A flight would take 15 to 20 hours.
Kennen and Astonished! are asking you to become part of her letter writing campaign. To learn more about what you can do please click here…
Photo: Altn-Yildiz Bekirova. Kennen Dorgan, Tanya Korpoetsky
To receive a bachelor’s in social work from the University of Regina students must complete two practicums. A practicum involves direct practice in social work agencies or other settings in which students are exposed to situations that call for their active engagement in a helping role. We are delighted that Lesley Rousseau chose to do her major practicum with Astonished! this semester.
Lesley hails from Cornach, Saskatchewan. Lesley and her twin sister Keely are both completing their fourth year in Social Work at the University of Regina. Lesley says ‘It has been eye-opening to see the barriers that individuals with disAbilities experience. To an able-bodied person these barriers may seem invisible.’ For example, if you are not able to sit independent of your wheelchair then travel with most airlines is impossible. Lesley is teaming with A! Student researcher Kennen Dorgan to learn more about All Wheels Up . The goal of All Wheels Up is to provide safe travel opportunity for those individuals wishing to fly and needing the use of their wheelchair. All Wheels Up Inc.’s intention is to create a wheelchair spot on planes and provide safe transport within airport terminals. We look forward to learning more about their research.
In addition Lesley will develop and deliver three sessions with the Astonished! Student Researchers in the Astonished! Teaching and Learning Centre. She is also helping spread the word about support for the Astonished! Spring Gala.
In her spare time Lesley loves to spend time with family and friends, read, and loves learning. Lesley says ‘Astonished! is inspiring’. Thank you, Lesley. We are so glad to be learning with you.
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