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Little Italy Community Garden Project of Skills Society

Supporting the citizenship of people with disabilities

Summer and Fall 2015 Newsletter

Skills Society is excited to publish our first recap newsletter for the Summer and Fall periods of 2015. The aim of this newsletter is to summarize the highlights from a few of our key projects and to discuss the impact that these projects have had on the #YEG(Edmonton) community; to promote upcoming Skills events; to share interesting stories from the field as well as industry news; and to acknowledge the contributions of our donors. Enjoy!

 

Project Highlights

Little Italy Community GardenClick HERE to view the full page

Volunteers from Skills Society, RBC and the Urban Spirits Rotary Club working hard to make the Little Italy Community Garden what is is today.

Volunteers from Skills Society, RBC and the Urban Spirits Rotary Club working hard to make the Little Italy Community Garden what is is today.

What’s the Scoop?
The Little Italy Community Garden is a revitalization project taking place in the Little Italy area of the McCauley neighbourhood. This garden has brought together citizens with disabilities, McCauley residents, businesses and community leaders to work as a strong collective on a project that revitalizes an important area of Edmonton.

Accomplishments:

A beautiful sunflower from the Community Garden.

A beautiful sunflower from the Community Garden.

The summer of 2016 will mark the third year that the Community Garden is in operation and we could not be more thrilled. In only two seasons we surpassed our construction goals by completing the garden and adding a variety of new elements. Some highlights include:

  • 30 upright garden beds;
  • 3 large wooden beds;
  • A large ornamental bed with a beautiful arbour and brick pathways;
  • A composter made from reclaimed pallet wood; and
  • A sturdy shed.

Goals:
The main objective for this upcoming summer is to create a sustainable Community Garden that is run by the McCauley community. With this goal in mind, we are now accepting bed rental applications for the summer of 2016 and are looking for keen McCauley residents to take on leadership roles.

Impact:

Garden Impact

To connect with this project please contact our Community Garden liaison Debbie Reid at Debbie@skillssociety.ca or 780-496-9686.

 

Service Planning AppClick HERE to view the full page

 

What’s the Scoop?
Skills Society, Lift Interactive and Southern Alberta Community Living Association are collaborating to build an innovative App that individualizes and humanizes the service planning process to make the experience more engaging.

Accomplishments:Service App
The App concept has proved successful in trials and Skills is excited to announce that the App is on track to launch in early 2016.

Goals:
The main goals of the Humanized Service Planning App are to humanize the service planning process, to give the people receiving services and their families more freedom to personalize their service plan and to increase accountability to ensure that service recipients are in fact receiving the services they want and deserve.

Impact:

Plannin App impact

To connect with this project please contact Ben Weinlick at Ben@skillssociety.ca or 780-801-3231.

 

CommunTEA Infusion

Click HERE to view the full page

 

What’s the Scoop?
CommuniTEA Infusion is a tea house on wheels that travels around to different community events in the summer and sets up a “pop-up” town square where people can connect in meaningful ways. The key leaders of this project are people with disabilities who play roles as community TeaVANbuilders. This is an important initiative because it helps people strengthen connections to their community.

Accomplishments:
This past summer was incredibly successful. The Tea Van was scheduled for a variety of great events and was the topic of a mini documentary by Telus.

Goals:
The goals of this initiative are to create employment opportunities for people with disabilities thereby spreading awareness about the valuable contributions people with disabilities can make in their communities.

Impact:

Tea Van impact

To connect with this project please contact Ben Weinlick at Ben@skillssociety.ca or 780-801-3231.

 

Action LabClick HERE to view the full page

 

ACTION LAB QUOTE

What’s the Scoop?
Where else can you host inspiring events, group collaboration, strategy sessions and social innovation all in the same place?

The Action Lab is a social enterprise of Skills Society. It’s a cool space, a process for problem solving and a way to tackle complex social challenges with community.

The Action Lab Stands On Three Pillars

  1. THE SPACE: Edmonton’s most unique venue that you can rent for private events, workshops, meetings, strategic planning and more engaging collaboration.
  2. FACILITATION & WORKSHOPS: If you need facilitation of strategic planning and visioning we have amazing people who can design and facilitate a session to suit your needs.
  3. SOCIAL INNOVATION LAB: Stewardship of three-month deep dive processes to navigate complex social issues and co-design solutions with community.

action-lab-medallions-2

Why is it effective?
Skills Society has experience with the right stewardship through our Citizen Action Lab Approach. The Action Lab has the necessary space and tools to elicit innovative thinking, collaborative work and creative problem solving. Additionally, Skills is at the forefront of emerging practices for social labs in the national and international communities.

Tim Draimin, Social Innovation Generation (National)

What makes it so special?
There is nothing quite like the Action Lab in Western Canada. The Lab experience promotes creativity, offers tools to help tap into collective wisdom and helps people prototype solutions to the challenges they are
working on. In addition, part of the revenue from the Lab supports the employment of people with disabilities, innovative social change initiatives of Skills Society and subsidizes community groups who cannot afford the full fee.

For more information or to book the space please contact:

Info@skillssociety.ca or 780-496-9686

 

Annual Day of Giving
New Event

 

What’s the Scoop?
On December 17th, 2015 citizens with disabilities, Skills staff and community members gathered together for our First Annual Day of Giving in support of the Bissell Centre —an organization that plays a huge role in the Edmonton Community. Leading up to the event, essential winter clothing was gathered. The clothing was then donated on the day of and there was a festive celebration with music and dancing.

Goal:
Our goal is to make the event even more successful in December 2016 by donating more to the Bissel Centre.

Impact:

Day of Giving Impact

To connect with this project please contact Debbie Reid at Debbie@skillssociety.ca or 780-496-9686.

 

Upcoming Events

Workshop: Being, Belonging, Becoming: Supporting Quality of Life

2016 Casino Fundraiser

  • Monday June 13 and Tuesday June 14
  • Seeking volunteers
  • Contact Rachel Lawrence-Hohl, Fund Development Manager, 780-496-9686 Ext. 227

 

Stories from the FieldCitizen Speak

 

Larry James is a passionate dog owner and a soon-to-be father! Larry looks forward to purchasing his own vehicle and obtaining his class 4 driver's license from the Abbotsfield Learning Centre. He aims to provide transportation services for pet owners with large dogs. In Larry's free time he likes to walk his dog Cerberus (an American blue-nose pit bull) and spend quality time with his girlfriend. Larry has been with Skills since June 2013. With the support of Larry's Community Support Worker, Larry has been able to find the appropriate resources to help him achieve his goals.

Larry James is a passionate dog owner and a soon-to-be father! Larry looks forward to purchasing his own vehicle and obtaining his class 4 driver’s license from the Abbotsfield Learning Centre. He aims to provide transportation services for pet owners with large dogs. In Larry’s free time he likes to walk his dog Cerberus (an American blue-nose pit bull) and spend quality time with his girlfriend. Larry has been with Skills since June 2013. With the support of Larry’s Community Support Worker, Larry has been able to find the appropriate resources to help him achieve his goals.

LARRY JAMES

What does engaged citizenship mean to you?

“It means to be social with different people throughout the city—being social with friends, co-workers, family and meeting new people.”

If you could call yourself five years ago and only had 30 seconds, what would you say?
“I would tell myself to work on my credit and to try and prevent it from going south. I would also tell myself to try harder to get employed and to get a steady income. Last, I would remind myself to engage, work and socialize with good people while avoiding the negative ones.”

What do you like most about your community and what do you like least?
“I like going to the Abbotsfield Learning Centre. This is where I am furthering my education in reading, writing and math. They also teach computer classes. People who want to get their learner’s permit can take classes there as well. Besides the staff, I think the volunteers there are great!”

“The services provided by ETS (busses and trains) is something I like the least about my community. I am not impressed with the whole concept of dogs being in kennels while they are on trains and busses. In Calgary, there is no kennel requirement for dogs to ride on the busses and trains. They only require the owner to pay the adult fare for the dogs.”

What is something you have recently accomplished that you are proud of?
“I was at the ultrasound with my girlfriend and I found out the gender of my baby!”

What changes do you think can be done to make your community more accessible to people with disabilities?
More busses for Disabled Adult Transit Services (DATS) because the city lacks this big time… I see a lot of people in busses with wheelchairs… As I mentioned earlier, I think it would be more beneficial for the ETS to allow pet owners to public transit with their dog and to simply pay an adult fare for their pet. Dog owners could take their pet on trains and buses and the ETS would profit too… ETS is losing out on millions of dollars by not allowing this. More importantly, it makes it challenging for pet owners [especially those with disabilities] to go to the vet, dog park, airport, an appointment somewhere or simply to meet with other pet owners. I think using the Calgary system would make the community more accessible.

Chris Bruce is a Manager of Community Supports at Skills Society. He brings a wealth of experience to his work and values the opportunity to lead and support the good works of teams who provide direct support to people with disabilities. Chris can often be found collaborating with others in pursuit of bettering the supports of people with disabilities. You will know that he is truly engaged in a conversation when you see him twisting his beard into a frenzy! Chris loves playing music with friends and spending time with his wife and their two furry children June and Lenny.

CHRIS BRUCE

What does engage citizenship mean to you?

“Engaged citizenship is a process of reciprocal enrichment connecting a person to a group, a thing or a place.”

How does one become an engaged citizen?
“It’s important to investigate one’s strengths and interests. Once you have a grasp of those strengths and interests, it is then important to actualize them in a manner that will align with like-minded others.”

How can we improve our community and demonstrate what it means to be a good citizen?
“I think you gotta respect the process of identifying areas of interest and ‘sweat the small stuff.’ By ‘sweat the small stuff’ I mean you need to hone your craft and pay attention to the little things—especially if you are starting from scratch. You should always look for ways to meet new people and to collaborate on new projects. There is always opportunity for the small buds of engagement to bloom into rewarding and fulfilling collaborations.”

If you could call yourself five years ago and had 30 seconds, what would you say to yourself?
“Winning lottery numbers!… Get used to knowing less and asking more.”

What do you like the most about your community?
“I live in the Highlands, a mature part of the city. I really appreciate old and preserved things. Some of the old and diverse architecture you see in my neighbourhood is absolutely beautiful. I like how no two houses look the same… You can tell that even though these houses are old they are cherished and incredibly maintained. There is a sense of preservation there and a sense of pride, which is really unique… I like that one house will have a purple door and a yellow chimney. I really love that aspect because it spices up the [community]. It reveals a unique piece of history that [often] may not be identified.”

Workplace more accessible

Screen Shot 2016-01-08 at 2.38.46 PM

 

 

Are you interested in gaining some perspective on what the job search is like for people with disabilities? If we better understand the obstacles people with disabilities face in the workplace, we can then learn what helps to remove these barriers.

Click Here to learn more about Nate’s story.

 

 

 

Acknowledgements

We would like to acknowledge the generosity of our most recent donors:

Anne-Marie Kallal
Anonymous
Bradley Murray & Roxanna Gonzalez
Cable Family Skills Endowment Fund
Caleb Manor
Capital Region Housing Corporation
Darlene Williams
Davina Tait
Donald & Carol Inglis
Evan & Mary Lou Renaerts
Jake & Trudy Zeldenrust
Jasper Place high School
Jerome Klein
John C & Marilyn A Carr
Lyric Douchet-LaBrie
Ogilvie FundPat Conrad
Perry Longinotti
Peter Olusanya
RAH Employees’ Charitable Donations Fund
RBC
RBC Foundation
Robert & Catherine De Frece
Robert & Martha Adams
Robert Herring
Sima Sherzad
Skills Society Fund
The Keg Steakhouse & Bar
Urban Spirits Rotary Club

 

Call to action

Do you have an interesting story that you would like to share with the Skills community? We are always looking for unique stories, photos and other content that represents Skills Society’s core values and the organization as a whole.

To get involved please email info@skillssociety.ca.

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