An all-day session was held at the On the Park Event and Conference Centre. Our day was titled, I CAN - Inspire - Create - Attain – Network
Our goals for the day were:
- Hear first-hand from successfully employed ODSP – Ontario JOIN candidates
- Re-kindle your passion by listening to the closing keynote speaker, Kyle Maynard
- Opportunities to share strategies for better understanding the client with a disability
- Opportunities to discuss employment supports/levels of employment readiness
- An understanding of the ODSP case manager role and the service provider role/s and the related challenges
- A better understanding of all disability types
- Tips for better communication with persons with disabilities
- Strategies to achieve an optimal experience for job seekers with disabilities
- Connect with your colleagues
- Build relationships
Highlights of the Day’s Activities
Victoria Peace from ODSP and Joanne Gray from Ontario JOIN welcomed the participants and set the tone for the day of engagement and reflection. Throughout the day, facilitator Nancy Van Boxmeer, mixed up the groups for optimal networking and interaction. Some of the activities included: usage of hand-held voting devices to vote on questions posed about disability and accommodation; formation of a new team with a new project and experience what it was like to live with a disability while participating fully in the meeting (one person had to wear ear plugs, one person had to wear large swim goggles that blocked out all light, one person had the inability to speak, one person had to wear large cumbersome gloves, and one person had to limit their mobility in the upper body); a brainstorming session on the criteria for someone receiving an Empathy Award; a partnering exercise based on country of birth (closest to Toronto and farthest from Toronto) forming a group activity with cards indicating examples of things we can do to be more accommodating, to support communication and to help generate lists of skills and abilities the client might have; a session where participants practiced unconditional and inclusive listening using Attending, Following and Reflecting; and finally groups were asked to create the optimal roadmap or journey for a client with a disability.
Over the lunch hour we heard testaments from several ODSP-Ontario JOIN success stories. Julie Despaties from Epilepsy Toronto introduced Lauren Dubois; Taryn Gabriel-Phillips from Project Work introduced Joseph Hamerlik; and Denise Bamber from CHIRS (Community Head Injury Resource Services) introduced Keith McKinley. All shared their personal challenges and triumphs towards now being gainfully employed.
Closing Keynote Speaker Kyle Maynard
Kyle Maynard has appeared as a guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Larry King Live, ABC's 20/20, Good Morning America, The CBS Early Show and as a cover story in USA Today. He continues to inspire as the author of his book, No Excuses (2005), a New York Times bestseller.
Maynard was born March 24, 1986 with a condition known as congenital amputation that has left him with arms that end at the elbows and legs that end near his knees. His story begins as an 11-year-old that wanted to wrestle and a coach that gave him an opportunity to try. After losing every single match his first year and most his second, Maynard, with his iron will and a coach with a heart of gold became a very successful varsity wrestler on one of the best teams in the Southeast. In spite of his limitations, Maynard found a way to win 36 varsity matches his senior year, while defeating several state place finishers and state champions during his final season. Most Recently Kyle Maynard hit Mt. Kilimanjaro's peak on Sunday, January 15, 2012, where he became the first quadruple amputee to get to the top without assistance. Maynard took on the challenge to inspire children and veterans with disabilities to seek out heart-pumping adventures, despite their physical limitations. The Atlanta native crawled all 19,340 feet of the tallest mountain in Africa by wrapping bike tires around his limbs, secured with gorilla tape.