Contributed by Mike Arshinoff, Activities Facilitator
It’s noisy as we eat lunch at the restaurant in the Hard Rock Casino. We hear rings and bells from all directions, and there are no windows to let light through. It’s Casino Day – but nobody is actually playing. We’re just going to eat here, then head back home. This is another ordinary Tuesday afternoon and the casino is just somewhere to go.
I recently moved into the role of ‘Activities Facilitator’ at posAbilities. My mission? To bring more activities to the individuals we support through our programs – though we had no idea what that would actually look like.
I tried many ideas, like games from thrift stores, hosting events, makeshift sensory rooms, and building contraptions to play with. But it all felt… surface. There was no systemic change. It didn’t empower anyone to find or create activities themselves.
Back to the Drawing Board
So I thought up some more ideas of what could be done out and about in the city, and polled some staff who also had some great suggestions! They had taken part in these activities at other organizations, at other programs, and with other persons served. However, it had been years since they last participated in them. When I asked “Why?” all I received were shrugs.
Collectively, we have tons of ideas, knowledge, and experience – It just isn’t easily accessible. When asked on the spot, it’s hard to immediately think of what to do today. Hence Casino Day on repeat – it’s easy. We needed a way to be reminded of what’s available. A list to select from… A menu… An activities menu.
The Publishing Process
I began collecting events, activities, and ideas from different sources to be assembled nicely in one place. The concept was designed as easy to use for staff, with practical information like costs and maps. But with a fun addition of pictures and colours, persons served are also encouraged to take part and get excited. Ideas led to ideas, and soon over 350 pages had been created. It would take years to do them all.
Next came the fun part – assembling activity binders for every program. This task couldn’t have been done without our newly dubbed Organization Master at Head Office, Thea. Office Greeter, Thea, reflects back on the experience fondly:
“When I was asked to make 40 copies of every page, it was overwhelming at first. As I learned a lot about organizing a big project like this, things got easier. I had a cool organization process of putting the binders together. I would photocopy the pages and put them in the correct order so that Kathleen [fellow Office Greeter] was able to help put them in the page protectors. But while assembling and reading through the pages, we started learning of new activities to do and things to make, and it started to get fun! I really wanted to make these!”
Social Transformation through New Possibilities
Thanks to the hard work from Kathleen and Thea, the binders are officially done and ready to be delivered, with a colourful labels for each program.
“I led the way on organizing and it felt good. I’ve never taken anything on this big to organize. It’s exciting now that it’s finished. It was my pleasure to be able to lead, organize, and work on this project. The end result was a lot of happy staff,” Thea beams.
The hope is that this book will be the easiest way to plan ahead, and that it becomes a living document. We hope that programs will add to it, alter it, tinker with the ideas, and invent their own. We hope this will inspire, excite, and lead to more fun and enriching experiences. So the next time it’s an ordinary Tuesday, there’s something to choose from other than Casino Day.
Designing Our Services with Person-Centred Thinking
Similarly, posAbilities Research Associate, Peter Greenwood, has been analyzing the need for creating more meaningful experiences in the lives of persons with disabilities, and how Social R and D can lead to new possibilities in the field of Community Living. Read his story here: From Support Work to Research and Development: An Unexpected Career