Let’s give a warm welcome to our new students!
The Community Engagement team is happy to welcome Alex and Alyssa, our two new co-op students from SFU. Over the next few months, they’ll be helping out with our communications work and special projects. Both are passionate about our posAbilities values of inclusion, learning, and person-centredness. Welcome to the team, you two!
– Alicia Neptune, Senior Communications Specialist
Hello, one and all! My name is Alex K Masse (they/she), and I’m one of the new interns here at posAbilities. I’m currently studying at Simon Fraser University, and this is my first co-op term!
When I’m in school, I’m a Communication major and Publishing minor. I transferred to SFU only last year, so I have yet to attend any courses on campus, which is kind of surreal. It’s been nice, though. I even worked as a Staff Writer at our school paper, The Peak, where I got to interview everyone from physicists to drag performers.
What drew me to posAbilities was how it approaches helping developmentally disabled folks, prioritizing a “good and full” life focused on what people actually want and what will make them happy.
In the past, I’ve seen a lot of “support” for disabled folks focus on what’s convenient more than what’s fulfilling. I’m neurodivergent myself, and support in my early years was about making sure I fit in: sitting still, hammering out all my quirks, and regulating my behaviour.
posAbilities, meanwhile, is all about what the disabled person themself wants, and making sure they have what they need to thrive.
I’m working in Special Projects, which means helping out on a whole range of media and outreach efforts. It’s so cool working at an organization that resonates with my values, and I can say that as a queer, neurodivergent individual, I feel safe and supported.
When I’m not working or studying, I’m a freelance creative! Specifically, I’m a writer and musician, and under these mediums, I do a bit of everything. On top of my time at The Peak, I’ve attended mentorships for prose, poetry, and playwriting, which have taken me all kinds of exciting places.
Musically, I write, sing, produce, compose, and perform! I play flute, as well as my two vintage synths, a QChord and Omnichord. The only things I dote on more than those are probably my cats, Onyx and Bandit. I also dabble a bit in design, which has been really exciting!
When I’m not working, studying, or making art, I’m probably reading, watching something, or enjoying nature on a walk. That last one is especially true these days: I live by a park, and there’s nothing better than enjoying the sun when you’re surrounded by nature.
I’ll be here a couple of months, and I hope I learn a lot while putting my skills to good use at this lovely organization!
My name is Alyssa Chan (she/her), and I’ll be working as the Communications and Event Planning Intern with posAbilities this summer!
Growing up with autism, I was non-verbal until the age of three, but with a lot of support from my parents, teachers, and professionals working with me, I was able to attend university and become very comfortable interacting with others. I decided to study psychology at Simon Fraser University after doing a practicum at their Autism and Developmental Disabilities Lab and recognizing that having a disability comes with both challenges and strengths. This was when I knew that I wanted to learn more about my own condition, reduce the stigma around disability, and support the needs of individuals with differences. I believe that people with disabilities shouldn’t be limited to minimum-wage jobs or segregated from the larger community, and I’m passionate about ensuring that this population is given opportunities to lead meaningful, satisfying lives. I’ve known about posAbilities for a few years, having heard about the organization from the mother of a friend with autism, so it was on my radar as one of the organizations I wanted to work for. As a result, I feel incredibly lucky to join the posAbilities team, as it’s a perfect opportunity to apply the event planning and social media skills I’ve gained from my previous experiences to empower the disability community.
As an autistic woman of colour, I am a strong advocate for an intersectional approach to disability services. This means acknowledging how the disability experience can vary dramatically depending on one’s unique combination of social identities, such as gender, cultural background, socioeconomic status, and sexual orientation. For example, I know that for many women, myself included, their autistic traits may not be noticed by others because of their tendency to mask their autism in social situations – and this often comes at the expense of their mental health. Additionally, there is a lot more stigma around disability in Asian cultures than in Western societies. Ultimately, I want to serve as a role model for other individuals with disabilities who have gone through similar challenges that I’ve faced.
I currently volunteer with Kudoz as a host, organizing online experiences for youth and adults with disabilities such as teaching them about the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) test and having conversations with them about the media. Kudoz creates novel, exciting experiences for these individuals to look forward to outside of their regular routines, and this is especially important during COVID when a lot of their activities have been cancelled. I’ve also worked on campus in various capacities, including performing accessibility research with the Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS), advising new students in Student Services, and handling social media and email communication in the psychology department.
In my spare time, I enjoy doing most types of exercise, and lately I’ve been following a lot of workout videos on YouTube and going for occasional runs. In fact, if it wasn’t for COVID, you’d probably find me at the gym, trying out a martial arts class, or outdoors enjoying the nice weather.
I’m super excited to make a positive impact at posAbilities throughout the next few months!