Getting to know the A! Core Members and how they are living their lives.
Getting to know the A! Core Members and how they are living their lives.
My brain goes faster than I can type, but I have a solution; I use ‘speech to text’ on my tablet and phone, and ‘speech recognition’ on my computer. This makes it so much easier for me to work with the printed word. Learning ‘speech to text’ or ‘speech recognition’ takes patience because you have to train the program to recognize your voice.
I am also a big Pokémon fan. I grew up with it and the game is another opportunity for me to increase my manual dexterity and my training skills. The more you train with Pokémon the stronger the bond between the two of you. It is a little like training a dog, which I hope to do sometime soon. I am applying to get a service dog.
Most people probably don’t know this about me but I am terrified of meeting new people. I am not sure but this fear may be a result of being bullied when I was a kid. My twin sister Pagan calls me ‘Little Ame’ after the boy in the movie Wolf Children because he is very shy, but eventually he discovers his ‘inner wolf’. I don’t let the terror stop me from doing new things; like participating in the Astonished! Summer Literacy Program or going to work four mornings a week at Sask Abilities, but it takes its toll on me. I hope a service dog would help me feel at home wherever I am and hopefully reduce my feelings of anxiety and terror. Wish me luck with my application.
Oh I probably should also tell you that I have Cerebral Palsy, I can’t eat eggs unless they are disguised in a cake, I am careful about what I eat because I have ulcerative colitis, and at one point I had a blood clot. I have two favourite expressions, ‘burn’, and ‘hello’ (I stretch it out when I am saying it). Pagan and I live in our own apartments that are part of Chip and Dale Housing. Our apartments were designed for us so there is lots of room to get around in our power chairs, to reach the kitchen sink and the stove-top, and to get from our bedrooms to our bathrooms using the ceiling tracks. We both love having our own places. They were painted a few weeks ago and my bedroom is red like the colour in my photo above.
At A! Summer Literacy I loved that we read out loud. I have a lot of trouble comprehending when I am reading, it feels like my mind gets all jumbled up, but when it is read out loud I get it. I have this same problem when I am typing; this is another reason why ‘speech to text’ works so well for me. Another big bonus from the A! Summer Literacy Program is our new friendship with Al. Al is a University of Regina student who volunteered in the A! Summer Literacy Program. Pagan and I got to know him and now we hang out together.
I hope New Zealand will be in my future. I want to see the locations where they filmed The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings. I know this is a very big trip but I dream big.
You can learn more from Paige on her blog Jurassicdragon21 Dream Big No Matter What
You might say I was a bit of a rover in my early years. I was born in Saskatoon and then moved to Cudworth, Regina, Balgonie, Regina, Pense, and back to Regina, where I finally settled down. I attended school in most of these places, but spent my final few high school years at Michael A. Riffel High School. After graduating in 2006, I took a few years off and then went to work at Cosmo, where I currently spend my days.
Towards the end of my high school years, I moved into Cheshire Homes where I reside in my “green and white” man cave. This should give you a strong clue about my favourite activity. I am a sports animal who attends Rider games, Pats games, and Red Sox games whenever I get the chance. When I’m not at games, I’m watching games on TV.
I am a core member of Astonished! and attend most of their social events . This summer I am attending my first ever Astonished Literacy Camp. I am the only guy camper, which is pretty sweet. I also attend Friendship Club and BeLonging gatherings when there’s no football or hockey games to watch. In my very limited free time, I listen to country music, watch funny movies, eat pizza, and dream about going to camp. I would live at Camp Easter Seal if they’d let me! My favourite people are my girlfriend Kayla, who also works at Cosmo, and my godmother Margaret, who I visit in Cudworth whenever I get the chance. My friends describe me as an open-minded, good-natured, and honest guy, optimistic even when the Riders are losing and camp is over for the summer.
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.
Pascal Erickson – Just Saying…….
I graduated from Campbell Collegiate in 2005. Since April 12th 2007 I have been conducting my life from Wascana Rehabilitation Centre in Regina. People say I am an excellent conductor, organizing and scheduling things I want in my life. I love music, especially country and rock. My dad and I are regulars at the Craven Country Music Jamboree. Recently, my sister Jennifer and I rocked at the Nickelback concert in Saskatoon (photo of Jennifer and Pascal).
Some of my favourite things are chocolate, photography, painting, reading medical text books, researching on the web, visiting with friends, Camp Easter Seal, playing cribbage, Astonished! events, and the Saskatchewan Roughriders. I have a serious case of ‘Rider Pride’. I keep connected to my family and friends, my music, and my Internet research though my iPad and iPhone. They are always on my chair tray.
Some of my favourite Astonished! events include the Halloween Howl and the annual Fundraising event. Both have great food, drink, and music, all things I love.
Because I spend a long time in my power chair, and this can be uncomfortable, my perfect day begins between 9:30 and 10:00 with breakfast in bed. With the assistance of Wascana staff I get ready for my day. I need this support but adjusting to the lack of privacy in a large institution can be challenging. I find it frustrating when staff and other residents think they know everything about me.
I am currently working with the recreation coordinator at Wascana to come up with a volunteer placement that would bring together several of my interests.
I often say ‘just saying’ and several people in the Astonished! community have adopted this phrase.
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