Greetings from Edmonton and the first day the the Canadian Down Syndrome Conference!!
We saw many familiar faces, met up with many old friends and had the pleasure of meeting some new and interesting people from all over Canada.
Affiliate Representative, Liz and Chairperson, Miranda arrived in Edmonton last night and were able to take in the Pre-Conference Workshop and the Affiliates Meeting today.
At the Affiliates Meeting, Liz felt that it was a great opportunity to network with all the other organizations from across Canada. Some of the highlights from the day were getting to hear the updates from the other affiliates and being able to discuss common challenges such as funds development, member engagement, and promoting awareness in our communities - and innovative ways to overcome them. The affliates had the opportunity to tour the Edmonton Down Syndrome Society's facilities. It was nice to see a fully staffed organization that had a beautiful facility that could allow for therapies, mom & tot play groups, speech & language therapies and social opportunities for teenagers and young adults.
Miranda had the opportunity to attend the Pre-Conference Worshop on Supported Employment facilitated by Sean Wilthsire, CEO of Avalon Employment Inc. Avalon Employment works tirelessly to ensure that people with disabilities are given the opportunity to dream and to secure important (and paid) jobs. This session focused on how supported employment means that people with disabilities can, and do, have meaningful jobs in the community - jobs that give them the opportunity for both success and failure. With a job comes empowerment - to make your own decisions, to have choices. There is a direct correlation between work and independence, work and freedom. Earning money give you freedom and independnce. To quote Sean, "I'm not getting a job for Frank because he has Down syndome. I'm getting Frank a job because he wants one."
Sean's full presentation will be made available to us, and we will be happy to share it with anyone who is interested!!!
Self-Advocates Tom & Rayann travelled to Edmonton today and were able to take in the Welcome Reception Carnival this evening. They had a great drive from Regina and had a lot of fun at the party with airbrush tattoos, photobooth, tons of Saskatchewan friends and people with Down syndrome everywhere!!
We sat and chatted with Olivia and Tasia about how they were also enjoying the Carnival. Olivia was very happy to be meeting many new faces and new people. She felt that all of the party was really awesome but her favourite parts were dancing, eating cotton candy and posing for the photobooth. They are looking forward to more dancing tomorrow.
Tomorrow starts with Opening Ceremonies, and a full day of Break-out Sessions followed by an evening of exciting activities for families, teens, self-advocates and parents!!
Until then - Good night from Edmonton!
Olivia & Tasia
Tom & Rayann
Tom & Rayann