Time for a Change of PACE

Photo: Brandi and Kieran in the new PACE office.
Brandi and Kieran in the new PACE office.

The PACE team has recently expanded into a new office space on the main floor of the DDRC, and they’re already seeing lots of excitement among clients and staff: “I really like it here,” PACE client Kieran Corrigan said. “It’s nice and quiet and not as busy as [the old office].”

Both the PACE team and its clients recognized the need for another room quite some time ago. However, given the size of the building, it hadn’t been possible until now. According to Shannon Mills, PACE Team Leader, the new office is a positive move because it shows that the DDRC values its staff and clients. “Our team is growing and we really needed more space,” Shannon explained. “We now have 52 clients and more than 20 PACE staff; we were overflowing into the hallways!”

With its six computers and white board, the room has a classroom-like feel to it. Currently, both PACE rooms are being used by the whole team. The client’s goals help determine which space they will use. “The extra computers will help me apply for different jobs. I’m also working on my writing, math, and resume writing,” Kieran said.

Eventually, the PACE team plans to run courses and training in the new space. “It will be geared towards [the PACE] population and age group,” Shannon said. “The courses and training will develop the skills and positive relationships our clients are looking for.”

Though they’re still working on adding a few personal touches, both clients and staff are thrilled with the new room and its potential: “I like the new space. I love that it has a window,” Brandi Russell, a PACE Community Resource Worker, said. “I think that coming down [here] is a good way to refresh everyone and help them focus on their goals.”

Winter Fundraising Update


Our 2015 winter fundraising campaign is off to a great start! Thank you to our 87 donors who have helped us to raise $12,231 of our $25,000 goal. We’re almost halfway there!

All of the funds raised in our 2015-2016 campaign will go towards the creation of the Ability Fund — a brand new resource for clients that will remove the financial roadblocks to greater community inclusion. Watch our video to learn more about this project, or visit our website to make a donation. Together, we can reach our goal of raising $25,000 and improving the quality of life of adults with developmental disabilities in Calgary!

Election Awareness at the DDRC

A red maple leaf with text reading: "Did you know? The 2015 election marks the 42nd federal election in Canada. The first election was held in 1867, the year that Canada became a country. On October 19, VOTE."
One of the facts in our “Did You Know?” campaign. These are posted around the DDRC office.

It’s been a year of elections for Calgarians, and the DDRC has been working to keep the conversation going about the importance of voting. With the federal election coming up on October 19th, we want to make sure our clients and staff members have the resources and information they need to cast their ballots.

Did you know that Canada is one of only four countries in the world that allows people with developmental disabilities to vote? It’s true. In 1993, Canada removed restrictions for individuals with developmental disabilities. Italy, Ireland, and Sweden are the only other countries with the same rules as us. This is one of the many reasons that we feel it’s so important to get our clients out on election day to make their voices heard.

We will be hosting a “Vote Pop-Up” for staff and clients on October 5th to help first-time voters or those who haven’t cast a ballot for awhile learn what to expect when they get to a real polling station on election day. We’ll go over what forms of ID they’ll have to bring with them, what accessibility options will be available, how to properly mark and cast a ballot, and more. Employees will have a chance to learn how to properly support someone while they vote. We’ll also take this opportunity to confirm whether or not individuals are registered to vote, and help them register if they still need to.

The DDRC has created an election guide for staff members and a plain-language workbook for clients to learn about what we’re voting for in this election, what the main parties are, and provide answers to some frequently asked questions. Interested in learning more yourself? You can access a copy of the guide and workbook to save and go over at home.

In the latest issue of Connection, we asked people around the office what they would do if they were the Prime Minister. If you haven’t had a chance to pick up a copy, take a look here.


OHS Week at the DDRC

August 10th marked the beginning of Occupational Health and Safety Week at the DDRC! This was a great opportunity for us to educate clients and employees about important safety and health issues.

Each day of the week featured a theme, and a variety of workshops and activities were offered to help highlight the themes. We were lucky enough to have guest speakers from the Calgary Fire Department and YMCA come to talk to us, and we had many employees share their expertise on particular topics.

Here are some of our favourite moments from the week:

ASL Club

ASLgraphicStarting this fall, the DDRC will have a drop-in American Sign Language (ASL) Club for both clients and employees.

The ASL Club will be run by Crysta Trask, the DDRC’s Creative Coordinator, and Samantha Archibald, a Community Resource Worker.

According to Trask, the goal of the club will be to help improve the communication opportunities for individuals who have a hearing impairment, are deaf, or have a communication disability.

“My main goal for this club is to increase quality of life for all clients, as well as developing a stronger, closer DDRC community where everyone can be heard, acknowledged, and appreciated,” Trask said.

Archibald explained how isolating not being able to have a conversation with someone can be, which is an issue she hopes to overcome with this club.

“Some of our clients communicate with ASL or writing only, and that can be lonely,” Archibald said. “This can open communication for current and future DDRC clients.”

The club’s first meeting will be on September 9; the club will run biweekly.

Did you know that there are at least 137 distinct sign languages in existence? Although Quebec uses its own system (Quebec Sign Language), most of Canada uses American Sign Language. Much like differences in spoken English, there are different dialects across the country. For example, there are three different ways to sign the word “about” – a variation in the Atlantic provinces, one in Ontario, and a third used in the west and north of the country.

The everyone belongs Toastmasters Club

Founded in 2011, the everyone belongs™ Toastmasters Club has received rave reviews from the Area Governor, and has been praised as fostering a caring and safe environment for all members. As of April 9, 12 members from the past year have graduated, and now the club will welcome 10 new members.

Crysta Trask and Denis Falconer address the Toastmasters group.
Crysta Trask and Denis Falconer address the Toastmasters group.

Toastmasters, for those who are unfamiliar, is an international organization that allows people the opportunity to master the art of public speaking, receiving feedback from peers rather than an instructor or coach. For DDRC clients, this is a chance to speak out and be heard in a supportive environment.

The club is overseen by Crysta Trask, the DDRC’s Creative Coordinator. Trask believes that Toastmasters is an ideal way to build self-esteem and confidence, while developing speaking and leadership skills. Participation also provides practice of basic conversation skills that are essential for successful social inclusion.

“We do all of this in a safe, relaxed, and non-judgemental environment,” Trask said. “We celebrate individual successes equally, and we delight in group successes.”

The everyone belongs Toastmasters Club was founded by long-time DDRC client Marilyn Wilson, who passed away last July. Wilson’s views on public speaking were that “the more you do it, the better you will be.” This has been proven by our club’s members: as of the end of March, each member of the everyone belongs™ Toastmasters club has received their “Competent Communicator” designation, awarded after their tenth and final speech.

Theresa shares her experiences at her final Toastmasters meeting.
Theresa shares her experiences at her final Toastmasters meeting.

Theresa is one of the members who has completed her Toastmasters journey at the DDRC. She shared her experiences with new members who might be anxious about public speaking.

“When I first started Toastmasters, I was kind of worried, so I asked people about it and asked for advice,” Theresa said. “I’ve learned a lot, and I’ve come a long way. I like Toastmasters now.”

Area Governor Dennis Falconer visited the everyone belongs group in March, and commented that our club “has taken the ethos of Toastmasters and offers something more than words can describe to this wonderful group of people.”

Members of the club meet every Thursday in the Learning and Leadership Centre.