A! Volunteer and Practicum Students – ii

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.

Nick Cuthbert

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.

Astrid Liska

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

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.



Meet Jordan Macdonald

Jordan Macdonald is a fourth year Social Work student at the University of Regina. Jordan is currently doing his mini practicum with Astonished! When Jordan began his practicum, he noticed his awkwardness, coming in as a new person in an established group, but now he is loving his placement, the laid-back atmosphere and the feeling of hanging out with friends. Jordan’s experience of being one of five brothers and one sister in a blended family helps him adapt and find his place in new situations.

The primary focus of Jordan’s mini practicum is supporting Student Researchers in the VOICE Lab. He has been teaming with A! Student Researcher Kelsey Culbert to develop some new episodes for her podcast ‘Less Inspiration More Conversation’. For a better understanding of the focus of Kelsey’s podcast, take a listen to the first episode that Kelsey created with Chelsey Temple Jones: Less Inspiration More Conversation . We look forward to hearing the episodes that Kelsey is creating with Jordan.

When Jordan is not in the VOICE Lab he is part of the Astonished! Teaching and Learning Centre in the classroom, the yoga studio, the coffee shop, and The Owl. Welcome Jordan, it is great to have you on the A! team this semester.

PHOTO: Jordan Macdonald, Kelsey Culbert, Melissa Turbuck

Meet Lesley Roussseau

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.



Meet Kristin Drummond

Kristin Drummond is completing a Bachelor of Community Rehabilitation and Disabilities Studies from the University of Calgary. This degree is offered though online courses from the University of Calgary and Athabasca University. As part of her degree studies Kristin is currently doing a community-based practicum with Astonished! She is writing a volunteer manual that will support the orientation of Astonished! volunteers.

In addition to working on her degree and doing a placement with Astonished!, Kristin works 4/5 time as a client services coordinator at Spinal Cord Injury Saskatchewan. Kristin has life experience and education that contribute to her skills at work. She has Cerebral Palsy and has used a wheel chair since her middle-school years. As a child and a teenager growing up in Swift Current her grandparents played a significant role in her life. Kristin has an Employment Supports Specialty Advanced Certificate from Douglas College, and a certificate in Life Skills Coaching. She loves teaching transferable skills to people with disabilities. For example, she taught a community cooking class that included skills in math, reading, decision making, and self esteem. Kristin always tries to ensure that the people involved are part of the decision-making process and she is always willing to learn.

Kristin currently lives in Regina and is a regular traveler on ParaTransit. On her workdays she wakes at 5:30 AM to be ready for her bus that arrives at 6:50 and gets her to her workplace for 8:00. She notes it is difficult to plan down-time between activities because it is a challenge to get home and back in the time available. She can relate to the lives of many of the Astonished! Core Members who also must factor in a large amount of time in each day for travel. Time management takes on a fourth dimension when you must include accessible public transportation into the shape of your day, every day.

We are happy to have Kristin on the A! Team and are looking forward to learning with her.

Behind the Scenes

When you attend an event like the Astonished! Gala or the Astonished! Walk and Roll do you ever wonder how this all came together? Bonnie Cummings-Vickaryous, the Executive Director of Astonished!, is a pro at organizing events and she knows how important it is to have a competent team for any event to be successful. This semester Adeena Cox and Brooklyn Weisgerber, students in Sports and Recreation Studies at the University of Regina, are doing their Junior Practicum in Sport and Recreation Management with Astonished! Their focus is organizing, promoting, coordinating, and evaluating the 2018 Walk and Roll .

Adeena and Brooklyn have a few things in common: they each plan to graduate with a Bachelor of Sports and Recreation Management, they each are the eldest daughters in their families, and they both have their sights set on clear goals after graduation. Adeena’s long term goal is to work on an Olympics gymnastic committee. In the short term she hopes to manage a gym or a team. She is currently a coach at the Wascana Rhythmic Gymnastics Club. Brooklyn hopes to work at female hockey development with the Saskatchewan Hockey Association, encouraging more females to be involved in hockey, especially at the younger levels.

Brooklyn chose this placement with Astonished! because she has been part of events as a volunteer and like Adeena she wanted to experience the management of an event from start to finish.

Both Adeena and Brooklyn have registered teams for the Walk and Roll. Adeena knows how enthusiasm is contagious and her team quickly responded to the invitation to participate in the A! Walk and Roll. Brooklyn is seeking sponsors for the event and doing research on event sponsors. If you are interested in being a sponsor for the 2018 Walk and Roll please let Brooklyn know by e-mailing Bonnie Cummings-Vickaryous.

Thank you Adeena and Brooklyn. We are delighted to have you with us.

Photo: Adeena Cox and Brooklyn Weisgerber

Distinguished Fieldwork Award

On April 13, 2018 Astonished! was honoured to receive the Distinguished Fieldwork Award from the University of Regina Faculty of Kinesiology and Health Studies (KIN) at their Annual Distinguished Alumni and Awards Night. The Fieldwork Award recognizes the contributions an organization has made to the professional development of Kinesiology and Health Studies students through the fieldwork experience, which is considered to be the cornerstone of their undergraduate degree.

The Annual Distinguished Alumni and Awards Night recognizes the important contributions made by many alumni. The event also celebrates the contributions community-based partner organizations make to student development, and allows KIN students to reconnect with one another.

Thank you to our Executive Director Bonnie Cummings-Vickaryous, our Program Coordinator Katherine Taylor, and our KIN practicum students; Elisa Wong, Jessica Opdahl, and Kevin Mah; and our KIN mini-placement students Rhea Boysen, Ben Rumpel, Kennedy Gauley, and Parker Florell.

PHOTO: Rhea Boysen, Katherine Taylor, Bonnie Cummings-Vickaryous, Jessica Opdahl, Elisa Wong

Meet Elisa Wong

Elisa Wong is a 4th year University of Regina student in the Kinesiology and Health Studies Program. This semester, Elisa is doing her Fieldwork Placement (560 hours) with Astonished! Elisa is particularly interested in the program areas of Astonished! She is focusing on the Astonished! Teaching and Learning Centre and the Astonished! Social Club. She is also developing her skills writing grant proposals and assisting with preparation for the Astonished! Spring Gala. Although she has volunteered with Astonished! in previous semesters, Elisa says her current role is new to her and she is happy for the guidance Bonnie Cummings-Vickaryous and Katherine Taylor offer her.

Elisa loves volunteering and the opportunities it provides to meet new people. Her outgoing personality is a real asset and she is open to adventures. She travelled to Anaheim, California in 2015 to take part in VidCon. VidCon produces events and experiences for people who work in online video and for the people who love it. Elisa has a Vlog of her travels and adventures. In the summer of 2017 she was part of a French immersion program at Université de Montréal. Click here to see her Vlog of that adventure.

Elisa hopes to do future studies in Occupational Therapy at the University of Alberta. We wish her all the best in her application and are delighted to have her with us this semester.

Photo: Elisa Wong and Sean Davis

Introducing Jessica Opdahl

We are delighted that Jessica Opdahl chose Astonished! for her Health Studies field placement (Faculty of Kinesiology and Health Studies). Jessica is in her final year of Health Studies and hopes Occupational Therapy will be in her future. As part of her Health Studies degree Jessica has taken five courses in Indigenous Health Studies. This has helped her see health care and the wider world from different perspectives.

Jessica loves exploring unfamiliar places, whether in Canada, North America, or different continents. This past summer she travelled in Asia, spending time in the Philippines, Bali, and Vietnam. Although shy by nature, she likes to challenge herself, and sometimes travels on her own. In Asia, she was grateful for the opportunity to met new people, visit places unlike anything she had ever seen before, get through moments of culture shock, and carry many images of beauty and diversity into her daily life.

Jessica is getting comfortable with the Astonished! community, figuring out where she fits and what she can contribute. She is excited to learn, be involved with, and see what happens throughout her field placement. We look forward to discovering this together. Welcome Jessica.