Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Wonderful World of YDAC

Communication is an important thing and I don't know if people really get that until it becomes a struggle for either themselves or someone within their personal world.

It is quiet obvious I think to most people who know me that I am a fairly shy and quiet individual, I've even written a post about it. (Hello, I'm Shy; And You Are?) Since my illness at a young age I have found communication difficult, making myself understood I don't think always comes across the way I intend, I tend to lose track of words in my head........ I much prefer to write as I can take my time and go over what I'm saying a couple of times before sending it out. But over all, I never gave the frustrations of communication much thought until the year 2001 when my mother fell and hit her head. The result was an acquired brain injury which gave way to an illness known as Aphasia.

Aphasia (from Greek ἀφασία, "speechlessness") is an impairment of language ability. This class of language disorder ranges from having difficulty remembering words to being completely unable to speak, read, or write. Aphasia disorders usually develop quickly as a result of head injury or stroke.

Upon leaving the hospital, my mother was assigned a speech therapist and after about 6 months when she was to leave, she introduced us to the wonderful world of the York Durham Aphasia Centre. They work in cooperation with the Ontario March of Dimes.

The staff and volunteers at YDAC are really some of the most amazing people! I recall the first intake meeting, or interview, to register my mom. We met at our home with one of the Centre's Coordinator's, a Speech Pathologist. What she told me, with her caring words, (I'll never forget and always appreciate) was that the program was as much for me as it was for my mom. OK, maybe the program is more directed at my mom, but I knew what she meant. They not only help the individual afflicted with Aphasia, they also offer assistance to those loved ones that work or live with that individual.

I've been in to the Centre to see what goes on and it all seems not only educational, but fun! They have name tags, group discussions, word games, other games, music, books, healthy living, speech arts, the list goes on. And every person I see there has a smile on his or her face. It's about interacting with your peers and feeling comfortable and belonging. This program is so wonderful to my mom. She has made so many friends and looks forward to it every week. Her speech has improved, yes, but more so, so has her confidence.
As mentioned above, the YDAC is linked to the Ontario March of Dimes, (an organization I plan a separate post for) and a lot of what my mom does within OMOD and throughout her life is thanks to that YDAC confidence; including a speech she presented at a conference in Barrie to a room of more than 200. The speech can be viewed here. I am so proud of her for that!

One of the fundraisers the YDAC does annually is the "Walk & Roll a-thon", and my mom loves it! it is through this I learned how good my mom is at raising funds.  She has no problem asking people to sign her pledge form and fork over cash! LOL!!

This organization has various branches throughout Ontario and any fundraising events they do are well worth it. For them to keep going is important, because what they do is important. They help people with a vital part of society.... communication! And that helps people feel like they belong.

Friday, January 20, 2012

A Creative Twist

So this is my third blog post of 2012 and also my third in the series "Tools of Hope". I first spoke of these tools in a previous post in December titled, "It's All in the Title", where I mentioned how there can be things out there that can lend us a helping hand when we are in need, or that give us the inspiration that may be lost in our lives.
I began this series with two posts about organizations that help in their own various aspects, One Voice Network & Kinark. In this post I wanted to put a little spin on things, because those Tools of Hope are not necessarily only those organizations of a non-profit nature. They can be smaller, or bigger depending on how you view it, and more personal.

I've also spoke in the past, and still currently stand by it, how writing can be therapeutic and inspiring. It most definitely is like that for me and I'm sure also for quite a few others. You can grow from writing, you can learn from writing, and you can gain friendships from writing. The combination of all this I found in a recent group I joined called

I established a lot of my writing skills growing up through the years and I continue to learn; I polished things up with a Creative Writing diploma; I have published a few articles, short stories and two novels; my passion for writing and thoughts of it being a "Tool of Hope" have been with me for quite a while. These things I just mentioned were parts of my life before joining Creative Reviews; but what this group has given me is (actually) somewhat difficult to put into words. I'll try though, and I'll start with one word, inspiration.

While I am leaving it up to you as to whether or not you want to join this amazing group of people, found at GoodReads, I'm really just trying to point out that these "Tools of Hope" can be found in places we might not often think of. But they are there if we take the time to look.
Creative Reviews mixes up my passion for the written word with friendship. I've connected with many friends in the group, I've posted a couple of times but usually have so far just listened, (or read) and I have learned. Most of my communication has been with the owner and moderators, Amy & Jenn. (I don't mean to brag or anything, but it is always nice knowing the people at the top:) )

It all started with my Twitter connection to Jenn; it was the first blog I read of hers that perked my interests.
She was going on about this super terrific group that was putting together a book of short stories and how the book was going to donate all it's proceeds to a charity organization called NCADV. (National Coalition Against Domestic Violence) I was hooked! My passion for writing, connecting with a circle of (online) friends and being part of an endeavor to give back; anyone who knows me would agree, how could I refuse?
I was and am so proud of this book:
Look for "Christmas Lites" by Creative Reviews. It can be purchased at Amazon.

I learn from this group. I am inspired by this group. I am honoured to be a part of it. Things like this, this group, these people, are what fuel me and keep me going. Being Creative Reviews, or something else like it, is what we all need to help keep alive that Hope that life requires...... without these things, we'd be lost.

"Without passion we'd be truly dead." ~ Joss Whedon

P.S.: to all those Creative Reviewers out there who might be reading this, I know that you might be saying Mark who? I'm the tall quiet guy who is often found sitting on the sidelines, observing and listening and trying to understand. I may not be always recognized within the group, but it does not mean I'm not around. I appreciate everything you share.

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Art of Kinark

Kin usually refers to Kinship, which is defined as "a relationship between entities. It is one of the most basic principles for organizing individuals into social groups, roles, categories, and genealogy. Family relations can be represented concretely (mother, brother, grandfather) or abstractly after degrees of relationship. Degrees of relationship are codes of ethics that consider the bond of kinship between non-related persons."
Ark is a Latin-based word that means a "box" or container; usually one to hold onto something(s) that is special or precious.

With that said, let me present:

I joined this amazing organization a couple of years ago and have found what they do and offer to be atremendous value to the community! I urge you to visit their website and look around. They offer family services, crisis prevention services, child care, parenting programs, educational programs, "special friend" (big brother/sister) type services. They work with cases where mental health issues are a concern. There is a "Mrs Claus" program (the big guy can't always get all the credit) where volunteers meet and then fan out to various locations distributing food and presents; this one I love especially! I donned a Santa toque while driving my Dodge Neon this past Christmas...... Santa's helpers don't get a sleigh and reindeer.

I've met a few of the volunteers there and a lot of the Councillors and everyone is very caring and professional. They really do get involved and treat everyone fairly and individually. They are painting a picture of diversity and inclusion. This organization really does go by the idea that the right people with the right attitude really can change the world.

There are a few different programs such as this one spread throughout the land, and it is so important to lend aid to keep them going. This one just seemed to click with me and I am so glad to be a part of the Kinark team. Not only am I helping them out, but they are helping me out in return. I feel good about lending a much needed hand, I've met some great people, and I learn through the whole process. I grow in mind and spirit with every path they allow me to follow!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

One Voice

So today I start out a new year with a blog series called "Tools of Hope". I begin my first post with One Voice Network. (get it? first, One..... ok, awkward silence) This place touches my heart in a couple of ways. The first is the fact that I work for this wonderful organization as Administrative Coordinator; so I guess you could say that the "wonderful" is biased, but it is not, it is true..... you'll see. The second is that this entire network relates to people who have disabilities; I have a learning disability. The third I'll wait on and list below.

One Voice Network is a non-profit organization that collaborates with Employment Service Providers in the York Region and Bradford, West Gwillimbury area of Ontario, Canada. This organization works with these Providers and tries to connect them with various employers in an effort to assist jobseekers with disabilities in finding and obtaining gainful employment. It is about helping someone land that interview and getting that successful hire; it is about creating an awareness; it is about inclusion.
*"Approximately 15.5 percent of Ontario’s population live with a disability."
Or from a worldly perspective:

*"Around 10 percent of the total world's population, or roughly 650 million people, live with a disability. This is the world's largest minority."
There are quite a few obstacles out there when it comes to a person with a disability getting a job...... discrimination, myths..... the idea that someone with a disability cannot do the task(s) required. That is SO NOT true. People with disabilities are capable of a lot.
*"A DuPont survey found that 90% of employees with a disability rated average or better on job performance and 86% had an average or better attendance record. Workers with a disability are also 5 times more likely to stay on the job (reducing turnover and training costs) than those without a disability."
An individual who happens to have a disability may have certain barriers and need certain accommodations, but can most usually get the job done just like anyone else. I myself only require a little bit of extra time and space, time to process and record information, time to make reminder notes that are easily accessible..... is it really so hard to make those accommodations?
Educating people to this fact can be a tiring job, but definitely one that is well worth it. If someone, anyone, wants to work, wants to make a good life for him or herself, and possesses that right attitude, why should they be denied? Equality is something we should all be entitled to receive.

I had mentioned a third way in which this organization touches my heart. That way is this: that at the core of it all, the idea of assisting those that find difficulties in life achieve something, anything that is a basic human right, is, like I said at the beginning, wonderful. This kind of idea should be, and in many hearts and minds is, a universal thing. So go on over and visit the website, , take a look around, spread the word, and share the wonders of what One Voice Network has to offer. 
There are similar organizations in Ontario, spread over Canada and around the landscape of the world. It all starts with like minded individuals coming together and sharing that one wonderful idea.

* Facts from: Disabled World - Disability News for all the Family; Toronto District School Board; One Voice Network: The Untapped Labour Pool Employer Guide