Fall 2018 Newsblast

Summer has wrapped up and Fall is upon us which means….it is time for the release of our quarterly Newsblast! Read on to discover what we have been up to over the last few months.

Calls to Action

Schedule a My Compass Planning Lab

My Compass Planning is a secure, web based, planning tool that helps people with disabilities chart the course towards all things good in life. This platform is used at Skills Society to provide a way for people with disabilities to plan, strategize, and communicate with their supports, allies, and family. You can read more about My Compass Planning here.

One thing we’ve found that can be tricky for people with disabilities and their supports is identifying meaningful goals. To support the process of generating ideas for meaningful goals for folks at Skills we’ve tweaked the “Think Tank” Citizen Action Lab process. Team Leaders and Managers can now request a 1.5 our My Compass Planning Lab that brings key people from the Individual’s life together to explore and generate promising possibilities!

Email Paige at paiger@skillssociety.ca to book your My Compass Planning Lab today!

Values in Action: Engaged Citizenship

Supporting Engaged Citizenship

Citizenship is about belonging, contributing, and having access to important opportunities and choices. At Skills, our work focuses squarely on taking action that enhances and celebrates positive citizenship outcomes for individuals.

David, Davie, and Mathew Host a Community Dance

David, Davie, and Mathew, roommates and friends, have been hosting dance parties for years. The parties are designed to bring people together and are usually hosted at a local community hall. The men usually host a few parties a year and have done one for Christmas, Halloween, and St. Patrick’s day in the past. Davie, David, and Mathew each bring unique gifts and talents to planning the dances. David, also known as DJ Dave, brings his own speaker system and music from his collection of over 400 CDs. Davie loves to be in the kitchen and plans, preps, and serves delicious snacks. Mathew puts his organization skills to work, making decorations, organizing prizes, and handing out posters.  Read on to see what David, Davie, and Mathew had to say about their experiences party planning.

What do you like about planning dance parties?

Mathew: “Getting people together that usually come to the dance and meeting new people. I like being a good host and planning the dances so that everyone can be excited and happy.”

David: I like hosting the dances “because most people like to dance, and a lot of people come to our dances. I like DJing and I am pretty good at it!”

DJ Dave selecting the next song to be played

Davie: I like putting on dances “to have fun and meet people. I like seeing all my friends. We always do the dances and we will do them forever!”

The act of planning dances provides a sense of community belonging

“When we do the dances I feel like I belong and we help people from Skills and other places feel like they belong.” – Mathew

The service the men provide to the community also gives them a sense of pride and contribution. David says “[hosting the dances] makes me feel pretty good. Sometimes people come up to me after the dance and they tell me I did a good job. We couldn’t have the dances without a DJ.”

The role of party planner brings meaning and impact

Mathew announcing the door prize winners

Kandis and Sue, David, Davie, and Mathew’s supports, reflect on the meaning the dances bring to the men’s lives and the impact it has on the community: “[David, Davie, and Mathew] felt excited to create something that people were excited about! It makes them feel valued and needed, because they really are key players in making these dances happen and they know it!”.

This past Sunday, the three hosted a Halloween Dance at the North Glenora Community League. I was lucky enough to be invited and got to see David, Davie, and Mathew in action. They showed off their epic party planning skills and the night went perfectly! You could really see just how valued their dances are to others in the community. David, Davie, and Mathew set a stellar example of how to be engaged citizens, finding ways to share their unique gifts and talents with the community.

Moments of Gratitude

Shout Out to the CommuniTEA Drivers!

We are grateful for Graham, Debbie, Mathew, and Konstantin who generously gave their time to drive the tea van this season. Because of their efforts the tea van made it out to 22 events!

Larry and Mathew enroute to an event

Skills in the Community

Homeless Connect

In early October folks from Skills rallied together to collect donations for the Homeless Connect event. Homeless Connect happens twice a year and offers free services to over 2000 people experiencing homelessness or at risk of experiencing homelessness.

School Supply Drive

Skills was excited to contribute to an annual school supplies drive in September spearheaded by Adrian Bruff, a Skills support staff. The collaborative project gathered school supplies for youth experiencing homelessness, families living below the poverty line, newcomers to Canada, refugees, and immigrants supported through Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers, Bent Arrow, and Youth Empowerment and Support Services. A total of 101 backpacks and 22 teacher packs were collected!

Shift Lab Speakers Series

An initiative coming out of the work of the Action Lab, the Edmonton Shift Lab is hosting an international speakers series called “How to Have Difficult Conversations about Race”. The series features different international speakers each month including: Shelley Tochluk, Daryl Davis, and Trevor Phillips. One talk remains and will take place on November 29th with Trevor Phillips. You can get your tickets here.


Sector News

PDD Review

The Alberta Government recently launched a review of the PDD program. Individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, their supports, families, and allies are invited to provide their insights and input during this review process. Video, written, or art submissions can be sent to css.pddreview@gov.ab.ca. A community conversation is scheduled to occur in Edmonton on December 4 and 5th (time and location to be determined). To learn more or sign up for updates click here.

Advocate for Persons with Disabilities Announced

On Tuesday, October 30th, 2018, Tony Flores was announced as the new Advocate for Persons with Disabilities (see more here). The announcement took place in the Action lab and we were excited to hear the Honorable Sandra Jansen, MLA for Calgary-North West, give a shout out to our very own Bev Hills for her stellar advocacy in the disability space.

Recent Highlights at Skills

CommuniTEA Season Wrap Up

CommuniTEA Infusion, a social innovation initiative run by Skills Society, is a mobile tea house that travels around the city creating a pop up ‘town square’ like atmosphere where people come together to share in conversation over a glass of iced tea. One of the cool things about this project is that it’s run by people with disabilities. Larry James worked for the second year in a row as co-coordinator of the project, taking the lead during events and making sure everyone who approaches the van feels welcomed and receives a refreshing glass of iced tea. When the van is invited to large events Larry goes with a community builder, an individual supported by Skills Society who assists with making and serving the tea. The project provides both meaningful paid employment opportunities for people with disabilities and the opportunity for people with disabilities to engage in conversation with fellow community members.

This year the van made it out to 22 events and engaged over 1000 community members! Of those 22 events, 8 were block parties hosted by individuals supported by Skills Society, providing an opportunity for them to get out and visit with their friends and neighbors. To learn more about the CommuniTEA Infusion project click here.     

This newsblast was compiled by Paige Reeves, Co-coordinator of the CommuniTEA Infusion project and PhD student at the University of Alberta. 

Do you, or the person you support, have something to share in the next newsblast? Send me a note at paiger@skillssociety.ca. I’d love to hear from you!