Introducing Katherine Taylor


I have been the Program Coordinator at Astonished for the past three years and it has been WONDERFUL. Thank you to the Astonished! Community for everything. My experience has been one in a million and I could not have done it without the support of each and every one of you. I fully believe in the good work that Astonished! does and am thrilled to have watched it grow and change during my time with it.

Now, it is my pleasure to introduce you to Katherine Taylor. She is taking over the role of Program Coordinator and is lovely, bright, and just the right person for the job. I know that Katherine will do great things for Astonished! and I am so excited to watch her (from afar!) in action. Astonished! is lucky to have gotten her and she is so lucky to have gotten Astonished! Over to you, Katherine!



Thank-you Ella! It has been such a pleasure learning the ways of Astonished! from such an amazing individual. I am very sad to see Ella go, but also extremely excited for this new opportunity.

A little about myself:

Like Ella mentioned previously, my name is Katherine Taylor. I come from a small town in Saskatchewan, and am happy to reside in Regina again! I completed my Kinesiology degree in the Fall of 2014 from the University of Regina, and then moved to Saskatoon to accept a position with a physiotherapy clinic. Although I enjoyed my time in Saskatoon, I knew Regina was a place that I soon wanted to get back to! Working with the disAbility community has always been a significant part of my life. Throughout high school I volunteered with the Parkland Therapeutic Riding Association, and then once moving to Regina, I found myself involved with organizations such as Creative Options Regina, Best Buddies, and Camp Easter Seal. These organizations expanded my knowledge, experience, and love for this field of work. Some of my favourite things to do are going home to visit the farm, spending time with friends, travelling, and camping in the summertime with my boyfriend. I hope to soon get to know more individuals involved with the Astonished! community as my time here continues!



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…..

Here We Come

It is a new year and in only two months we will be celebrating the 4th Annual Spring Fundraiser, Wings on Our Wheels ~ Astonished! In Flight. This is a fabulous event for all ages. We hope you will join us on Saturday March 5th, 2016, 6:30-9:00 at 4720 Castle Road, St. Martin’s Parish Hall, Regina, SK.  We are beginning with a Champagne Reception at 6:30. For more details…….

Photo: Jonah & Gabi Lindenbach

Celebrating IDPD 2015

Every year on December 3rd people all around the world celebrate the UN International Day of Persons with DisAbilities (IDPD). It aims to increase public awareness, understanding, and acceptance of people with disAbilities, and celebrate the achievements and contributions of people with disAbilities. This year’s theme is Inclusion Matters: access and empowerment for people of all abilities.

We at Astonished! are joining in celebrating this day!   Over the past couple of weeks we have had two events to commemorate this special day: an awareness day with popcorn sales, and our first annual Walk and Roll. We have  been so fortunate to have the help from a group of Kinesiology students who are in Dr. Brenda Rossow Kimball’s KIN 342 class “Developmental Disability and Well Being.” Part of their class requirements were to partner with an organization to raise awareness of IDPD and of the partner organization. This group, Kaili Gilroy, Chelsea Jones, Kaylee Giesbrecht, and Anne Tomyn, set up a booth in the Riddell Centre at the University of Regina and offered popcorn along with information about IDPD and Astonished! While they were set up in the Riddell Centre, they also accepted donations which they contributed to their Walk and Roll team. In total, this group raised $465 for the Walk and Roll fundraiser and also raised awareness of IDPD and Astonished!   Thank you!

Astonished! is also celebrating IDPD by having a party at the Owl on December 3rd from 2:30 until 4:00. If you are interested, please come and share in a toast to IDPD!

Photo: Anne Tomyn, Kaylee Giesbrecht, Kaili Gilroy, and Chelsea Jones

We Walked and Rolled

Students in Dr. Brenda Rossow Kimball’s Kinesiology 342 (Developmental Disability and Well Being), at the University of Regina, have the opportunity to put their learning into practice. Student groups partner with community groups to recognize the International Day of Persons With DisAbilities. Seven students: Kyla Bassingthwaite, Hollie Freund, Morgan Holmen, Corrie Van Burgsteden, Veronica Jack, Olga Koberts, and Tasha Gray partnered with Astonished! to create and deliver our first ever Walk and Roll event. We were all able to ‘take part in a sports and leisure opportunity’ which is one of the rights identified in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with DisAbilities.

It was a steep learning curve for all of us; but with the help of eight fabulous fundraising teams, great staff support, generous donors, and sponsorship from the Queen City Kinsmen Association and The Owl we had a great day on November 29, 2015 and raised 5% ($10,000) of our annual budget. Thank you to everyone who made this event a success. Please check out the photos from our event………

Photo: Between a Walk and a Hard Place team members – Hollie Freund, Morgan Holmen, Corrie Van Burgsteden, and Kyla Bassingthwaite.

Claiming Full Citizenship

The international conference, Claiming Full Citizenship, October 15-17, 2015 in Vancouver, BC, focused on self determination, personalization, and individualized funding. Rhea Boysen (A! Interim Manager) and I (Brenda MacLauchlan, A! Communications Coordinator and Parent) represented Astonished! at the conference and presented one of the sessions.

How do you summarize the experience of an international conference with 550 participants from regions as diverse as South Korea, New Zealand, Australia, the United Kingdom, Finland, the United States of America, and Canada? Rhea and I (Brenda) are each writing blog posts about this conference that will give you some ‘snap shots’ of our experience.

The stated learning objectives were:

  • Evaluate the progress in achieving the vision set out in the Seattle 2000 Declaration on Self Determination and Individualized Funding
  • Share lessons learned on the implementation of self-determination, personalization, individualized funding and supported decision making
  • Promote cross national, cross cultural and cross sector dialogue
  • Share best practices
  • Support the realization of the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities through promoting the effective global implementation of self-determination, personalization and individualized funding
  • Create a roadmap for the effective implementation of self-determination, personalization, individualized funding and supported decision making
  • Foster cooperative networks across jurisdictions, sectors and interests that will continue after the conference

Snap shot 1-The conference took place in a large, busy, downtown hotel in Vancouver. I was rather overwhelmed by the crowds. Within fifteen minutes of arriving at the conference I was engaged in a conversation with June Arthy and Bronwyn Moloney from Queenland Australia. They came to the conference to tell people their story about people labelled ‘Too Challenging’ or ‘Too Complex’ regaining their place in community. June (I guessed she was in her sixth decade) told me she had lived almost all of her life in an institution for people with intellectual disAbilities. She was delighted to tell me, with the support of a local not-for profit, she has been living in her own home for the last decade. I was inspired and no longer overwhelmed.

Snap shot 2 –The big attraction for me in attending this conference was to learn more about how Individualized Funding is managed in other places. Individualized Funding refers to direct funding to people with disAbilities so they can purchase services according to their needs. As a parent and as a member of Astonished! I have known firsthand the challenges of Individualized Funding in Saskatchewan. I hope we might learn from others like: Manitoba’s In the Company of Friends, a single window to access services, rather than being separated into service categories by diagnosis as we are in Saskatchewan; and Ontario’s Families for a Secure Future and the Ontario Independent Facilitation Network ,independent facilitators that assist individuals with the Individualized Funding process.

Snap shot 3 – This was the first ever international conference that brought together people living with disAbilities and people living with dementia, and families, professional support people, and academics from both of these communities. At first I wondered about the wisdom of putting together disAbility and dementia but I found it broadened the focus and helped us to be more aware of service gaps and attitudinal challenges.

Walk and Roll

You can always count on some new thing to be taking place at Astonished! In harmony with the UN International Day of Persons with DisAbilities eight University of Regina kinesiology students are teaming with Astonished! to host our first Annual Walk and Roll.

Walk and Roll is a family-friendly pledge event that aims to raise $15.000 to support the work of Astonished!

Getting involved is easy! Check out our online event page.  You can register as a team of four or as an individual. We are challenging individuals to raise $200 and teams to raise $800. Participants will walk/roll for a total of 1.5 hours. The Walk and Roll will take place from 12:00- 3:00 Sunday, November 29, 2015, at the Glencairn Centre, 2626 Dewdney Ave E, Regina. Come join us for a wonderful, fun-filled afternoon.

For more details on signing-up for this event please check out our Walk and Roll page. If you have questions about this event please e-mail Rhea Boysen, Astonished! Interim Manager.


Serendipity means a “fortunate happenstance” or “pleasant surprise”. At Astonished! we had been looking for ways to develop our skills at telling our stories in video, but not finding what we were looking for. Then, unexpectedly, while on retreat in East End, Saskatchewan, Brenda MacLauchlan found exactly what we wanted. While reading the community newsletter in Jack’s Cafe she came across an article about The Grasslands Project. This is a National Film Board documentary project about the grasslands and as part of their work they are holding media clinics to help people turn story into video. Scott Parker, director of the project, readily accepted the invitation to host a media clinic with Astonished!

We are delighted with the results. Check out the terrific video about our media clinic. Big shout out to Scott Parker and Robin Schlaht for your work with us.

Don’t Miss It

Have you been thinking about checking out a local sports bar? Well we have the perfect opportunity for you. On Thursday September 24th from 6:00 – 9:00 you can join the awesome Astonished! community and friends at  Press Box Sports Bar (909 Albert Street). Core Member, Kaitlyn Hoar, is hosting her second annual Steak Night Fundraiser for Astonished! Tickets are $25  for the meal: steak, salad, fries (drink is not included). $15 from each ticket will be donated to Astonished! Tickets must be bought by September 15, 2015. As well there will be 50/50 raffle and prize raffle table throughout the evening.

For tickets please contact Kaitlyn and Wendy at 306.949.8258


Annual Summer Fun BBQ

We hope you will join us at the Annual Astonished! BBQ  Tuesday August 18th at
Evraz Park (Formerly Ipsco Park), 1670 Armour Road, 5:30 –8:00 pm.

Everyone please bring your own chair (wheel or lawn) and we will meet you at the front gates of the park and provide the food and beverages! RSVP by Friday,  August 14th  to Bonnie

This event is weather permitting – if it looks like it will be a bad evening to be outside we will give you a cancellation email/phone call on the morning of August 18.

Tell your family and friends! All guests are more than welcome to come!

If you are taking paratransit, please ensure that your drop off is no earlier than 5:15 and your pick up is no later than 8:15. Thanks!