Newsblast – Spring 2018 Issue

Hello! My name is Paige Reeves and I’ll be spearheading the creation of a quarterly Skills Newsblast. You might recognize me from the CommuniTEA Infusion project. I was Co-coordinator of the project last year and will be again this year. I am a PhD student at the University of Alberta doing critical disability research on community belonging for people with intellectual disabilities. You can expect to see four issues published online throughout the year – an issue for every season. Enclosed you will find key updates, things we are grateful for, highlights from the field, and stories from the people we support, staff, and allies. Happy browsing!

–Paige Reeves, CommuniTEA Infusion Coordinator

Values in Action

Did you know we have 5 core values that guide our work? As part of this newsblast series we will be showcasing stories that bring Skills core values to life. One issue, one core value highlighted. This issue’s core value is – seeking creative collaborations.

At Skills we believe unlikely encounters can generate new ideas and ways of thinking. We seek to create space for these encounters to happen. We’ve embraced creative collaborations in the past – forging partnerships with professors at the University of Alberta and welcoming students from Community Service Learning to support ongoing projects. We believe there is a great deal to be gained by taking risks and exploring new avenues for collaboration.  

“There is strength in groups recognizing their commonalities, sharing resources, and working together”


Read on to discover how Carrie, someone Skills supports, boldy pursues avenues for collaboration in her work as a local entrepreneur and crafter.

 Carrie Wheeler – A Crafty Collaborator

Carrie Wheeler is a local artist and entrepreneur. Carrie started Carrie’s Crafts n Toys back in 2011 and has since created a successful and strong business selling handmade art, jewellery, scarves, and other crafts. Creativity and collaboration are important to Carrie and her business. Carry identifies as a crafty and creative person stating her creativity is “a natural talent”, one that she’s recognized and honed from the time she was a teenager. She says creativity “has always played a heavy role” in her life. Her creativity is something she shares with her mother – “my mom and I are 2 of the craftiest people in my family”.  

Collaboration plays a pivotal role in the success of her business. Carrie has worked to create a series of relationships with unique stakeholders to further her business. She sells goods regularly at two local senior’s apartments, connections she made through a friend that lives in one of the buildings. Carrie sells at the Capilano Farmers Market twice a month. To gain her place here she boldly approached someone involved with the market and inquired about getting her own space. Carrie also has her items on display in Tix on the Square in Churchill Square, yet another connection she strummed up on her own. Carrie demonstrates courage, strength, and strong self advocacy in the forging of partnerships to further her business.  

Carrie embodies a creative and collaborative spirit, just two of the qualities that have led to her business being such a success! Carrie’s story demonstrates just how far a belief in oneself, a creative spirit, and a willingness to seek collaborations with others can take you.

A huge thanks to Carrie for taking the time to share her story. To learn more about Carrie’s Crafts n Toys check out this link or email Carrie directly at 

Moments of Gratitude

Stay Tuned…

Skills Society has applied for an Alberta Council of Disability Services Innovation Award for their work with the CommuniTEA Infusion project! Last year Skills received this award for their work with the My Compass Planning App

Thank-you Align Association of Community Services!

A big thanks to Align Association of Community Services for their generous $1800 grant that covered costs associated with 18 Skills staff completing their Mental Health First Aid training this February.

Thank-you RBC Foundation!

Pat Conrad (Executive Director) , Dan Edwards (RBC), Rachel Lawrence-Hohl (Fund Development)

We received $15,000 dollars from the RBC Foundation to operate the CommuniTEA Infusion project this year.  In March, Dan Edwards from RBC came by our office to personally present the cheque. Dan and his team have been involved with both the CommuniTEA Infusion Project and the Little Italy Garden Project and it’s always a pleasure to work with them. Since 2015, RBC has granted us just over $42,000 and they continue to be very involved with our projects.

National Volunteer Week

Pat Conrad (Executive Director), Rochelle Mitchell (Board Member), Rachel Lawrence-Hohl (Fund Development)

National volunteer week is April 15th-21st. Skills Society would like to take the opportunity to recognize and celebrate all the volunteers who are committed to supporting the citizenship of people with disabilities. We recognize that many of our projects and initiatives would not be as successful as they are without the dedication of those who give their time, skills, and knowledge to support the work of our organization. Thank-you!

Proud to be a Finalist

We were fortunate to be a finalist in the Alberta Chambers of Commerce Diversity Leadership Business Award. The awards ceremony was on March 2nd at the Renaissance Hotel. As a finalist, we were eligible for the Alberta’s Best of Business Award of Distinction. This award is presented to a company exhibiting outstanding achievement and leadership in Alberta, with ongoing involvement in community events and organizations. Although we didn’t walk away with any awards, it was an honour to be a finalist and to be part of a celebration that recognizes the contributions of businesses and non-profits in Alberta.

Sector News

National Accessibility Legislation in the Works

New national accessibility legislation is set to be released this spring! From July 2016 to February 2017, Carla Qualtrough, past Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities led a consultation with Canadians to learn what an #AccessibleCanada looks like to them. Interested in seeing what other Canadians said? Watch a short video or view the summary consultation report

Budget 2018: Message from Minister Irfan Sabir

On March 26, 2018 The Honorable Irfan Sabir, Minister, Community and Social Services released a letter regarding the 2018-2019 budget for FSCD and PDD.

Recent Highlights & Learning

Do you have an event or experience you would like to see featured here? Send an email to to inquire.

Past Events

Pawel Attends Innovations in Practice Conference

Pawel Zygmunt (Manager of Community Supports)

Pawel Zygmunt, a manager at Skills, recently had the opportunity to attend the Innovations in Practice conference – the first conference of its kind in Edmonton. Hosted by Alberta Health Services, the conference brought together professionals, individuals with disabilities, and their allies for two jam packed days of learning and exploring successful clinical practices in the field of intellectual and developmental disability.  

Here’s what Pawel had to say:

“One of the more interesting takeaways I found myself having was in the ‘RootEd’ presentation (a pun naturally intended to identify how the project is ‘rooted’ in Edmonton). The session was hosted by Kristin Jennings & Paige Reeves on how social inclusion, which helps build and foster natural relationships, is comprised of 4 major elements: membership, influence, fulfillment of needs and shared emotional connection. All 4 of these elements need to be met in order for an individual to gain or feel a sense of purpose and belonging within their community. RootEd is quite a unique project, that shows how complex, but still very possible (including for the people we support) social and community connections can be.” 

Skills’ submission to the Edmonton Community Foundation’s April Fool’s Community Meme Contest

We’re grateful to Pawel for sharing his key learnings from the conference. To learn more about RootEd., a local community building initiative, click here.

St. Patrick’s Day After Party

Folks from Skills and their allies danced the night away at the St. Patrick’s Day After Party held on Saturday, March 31st at North Glenora Community Hall. Thanks to Midge’s team for all their hard work in coordinating and putting this great event on for people supported by skills, their allies, and the wider community!

Submission to the ECF Meme Contest

Did you see the Skills’ submission to the Edmonton Community Foundation’s April Fools Community Meme Contest? Although we didn’t walk away with the $1000 prize it was a fun way to showcase our work. 

Upcoming Events

Collab with the Accessibility Advisory Committee

Speaking of creative collaborations, Skills is excited to be partnering with the City of Edmonton’s Accessibility Advisory Committee on Monday, May 28th in hosting an all day action lab session exploring pathways to accessible housing in Edmonton. Stay tuned for opportunities for people supported by Skills to be involved. 

National AccessAbility Awareness Week

May 28th through to June 3rd is National AccessAbility Awareness Week (Click here to learn more). National AccessAbility week is about promoting inclusion and accessibility in communities and workplaces. To celebrate National AccessAbility week there will be a mix of fun, informative, and interesting events to partake in all around the city hosted by the City of Edmonton’s Accessibility Advisory Committee. Events include a film screening, accessible home tour, and the annual Mayor’ Awards at City Hall. Stay tuned to the Accessibility Advisory Committee’s facebook page for more information. To learn more about the work of the Accessibility Advisory Committee click here.  

Food for Thought

What would you say if you found out someone you know is expecting a child with down syndrome (or any other disability for that matter)? The Canadian Down Syndrome Society’s Anything but Sorry campaign might have you rethinking your choice of words.

Check out the short video clip here

This campaign reminds us that words matter. The language we use reflects our beliefs and values. When we say “sorry” to a family because their child has down syndrome we are implying down syndrome is a sad thing – something to be sorry about. But people with down syndrome and their allies are telling us something different. They are telling us that down syndrome is a part of who they are – something to be celebrated!

Call to Action

Teavan Season is Starting!

Larry James, CommuniTEA Infusion Co-Coordinator

Spring is here and that means the CommuniTEA Infusion operation is up and running again! We are excited to announce Larry James and Paige Reeves have returned as co-coordinators of the project.

Having the van come out for a community block party is a great way to foster connections between folks supported by Skills and their neighbours. Book your block party today by sending an email to or for more info click here