INclusion by PRESS buttons now on sale at the Waterloo Region Museum

By Lina Nguyen and Lilly Broderick

We are happy to report that our INclusion by PRESS buttons are now officially on sale in the Waterloo Region Museum gift shop. Lilly Broderick, a member of Sadie’s Place, created this connection. As a previous staff member at the Waterloo Region Museum, Lilly had the intuition that it was a great organization to help us spread our message of inclusion and diversity.

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Members of Sadie’s Place (Lilly, Allison, and Lina) presenting our display to Lisa from the Waterloo Region Museum

 

The Waterloo Region Museum strives to provide equal and engaging leisure opportunities for every guest who visits. Some of the museum’s inclusive practices include: providing resources to the staff on using inclusive language, offering accessibility maps for their whole site, providing a copy of their guidebook in Braille, and offering the use of headsets to amplify sound in the theatre. The Waterloo Region Museum aspires to foster a sense of pride, identity, and belonging in the community, which echoes our aims at Sadie’s Place for Innovative Inclusion. We are excited to be able to work together to share our message of community inclusion and creativity.

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The colourful front wall of the Waterloo Region Museum

One of our favourite sections is the Coming of Age exhibit that takes a look at the ever-changing attitudes, styles, and societal influences that teenagers experience throughout the decades. We love dancing along to old tunes playing through the speakers and sending e-postcards to our friends with us in hairstyles inspired by the 1920s to 1980s. Even though fads, fashion, and language evolve over the years, the fundamental experiences teenagers face have stayed relatively unchanged. Everyone is connected through their shared life experiences; be it love, music, friends, family or the pursuit of knowledge and fun. This echoes an idea that we at Sadie’s Place hold near and dear to our hearts—connecting with people through shared passions and embracing diversity. We may look, walk, talk and think differently, but at our core, everyone in the community is connected to one another through shared life experiences.

We highly recommend a visit to the Waterloo Region Museum if you want to learn more about the history of this place we call home. While you are there, feel free to take a stroll through the gift shop and check out our INclusion by PRESS buttons. Our “Envisioning Diversity” mirrors look to a future where diversity and individuality is widely celebrated. Our “Connecting Together” magnets remind us of the importance of building relationships in which each person is valued and able to thrive in community.

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Our button display in the Waterloo Region Museum gift shop!

From a historic look at migration to more recent technological and industrial advances, the Waterloo Region Museum depicts the change and growth seen in the community for over a thousand years. It’s our hope that our INclusion by PRESS buttons will also be able to facilitate change in the region by bringing people together and promoting inclusion for all. The Waterloo Region Museum shares our belief in community engagement and celebrating diversity, and we hope that these buttons will help spark conversations and spread that message throughout the Waterloo Region.

Reflecting on Our Title “Community Inclusion and Leisure Collaborator”

By Lina Nguyen and Kayla Haas

For the most part, job titles are meant to represent the position a person holds in a company and provides a description of what they do. When you read our job title, our job description might not be immediately clear to everyone. Our title, Community Inclusion and Leisure Collaborator, expresses what we do and how; even if it isn’t as commonly known as job titles such as Teacher, Police Officer, or Researcher. Our title might appear to be lengthy, but each word has been chosen carefully to reflect the values of Sadie’s Place for Innovative Inclusion. We value communities that celebrate differences and promote inclusion for all members. We value collaborative engagement in meaningful leisure experiences and we value building relationships.

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Lina, Allison, and Kayla cooking together

Unlike other job titles, ours is an act of resistance in addition to offering an explanation of our responsibilities. Our title was chosen over “support worker” or “therapist” as a deliberate means to shift unequal power distribution that can be present in caring relationships. Typically, traditional titles reflect a relationship between a care provider (support worker/therapist) and a care recipient (patient/client). Power and the power to care is often thought of as unequally distributed. For example, a care provider might create a therapy plan for a care recipient, without seeking input from the recipient. Similarly, care is seen as flowing in one direction – from provider to recipient without recognizing the influence of both people on the other.

Instead, as collaborators we reflect the importance of shared power and care between two people. We make decisions together about how we engage with/in our community. We use our shared talents and interests to guide our community engagement. For example, Lina and Allison’s shared love of art lead them to collaboratively create a faerie house for McDougall Cottage in Cambridge. Kayla and Allison joined a community ukulele club to foster their mutual love of music. This aspect of our title reflects the relational approach we take in our practice. We believe in mutuality, shared experiences, and relationships that benefit each and every person involved. The relational approach we take in our work isn’t limited to the relationships between members of Sadie’s Place. It also extends to the relationships we create with other community members.

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Lina and Allison dropping off their Faerie house at the McDougall Cottage

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Allison and Kayla playing music with the ukulele club

When we have the opportunity to connect with community members over a conversation about our role, it usually makes them stop and think. A lot of people have said that they have never really reflected on how they think about (dis)ability and how that affects their lives. Not everyone has had the opportunity to get to know someone who has an impairment, be it developmental, physical, or cognitive. Our conversation acts as a reminder that having an impairment isn’t uncommon; it’s universal – something that we all experience. But if impairments are universal, why is it that some people are excluded while others aren’t?

Being a Community Inclusion and Leisure Collaborator gives us an opportunity to bridge difference and encourage others to do more to make sure everyone in the community feels welcomed and accepted. We speak about the way our practices bring people closer together through shared experiences and meaningful engagement and how we resist practices that are disabling. We challenge people’s ways of thinking by introducing them to different perspectives and shining a light on issues many people overlook or take for granted. Sadie’s Place for Innovative Inclusion embraces inclusivity, diversity, and social justice, and we act as bridges for other community members to make connections with people from all walks of life and build relationships that allow for creativity, growth, and interdependence.

Creating Community in Music: Joining a Ukulele Club in Waterloo

By Kayla Haas

It is often society’s habitual response to think that because someone has a disability they have to be fixed, or cured, or engaged in some sort of therapy or skill development. What about engaging in something for the enjoyment and enrichment of sharing something we are passionate about with another person? That has been our experience with our local ukulele club.

Music is an important place of connection for Allison and I. We share a love of experiencing music. Allison plays percussion and I play the ukulele. We also sing, dance, and attend concerts together. Through music our relationship has grown. It gives us space to learn about each other’s unique and shared talents while engaging in something we both love.

As part of our Sadie’s Place Bridges to Community, we explored a local ukulele club. Our first experience with this club was incredibly positive and inclusive. They are truly open to all ages and skill levels! We were welcomed in like old friends and felt an immediate sense of belonging with like-minded musicians. Joe (the founder of the group) and Dianne were all smiles when we walked in the room and greeted us enthusiastically. Joe started the club after attending a similar group in Hespeler. He says he was drawn in by the diversity of players and the shared love of music, “It didn’t matter who you are, you all talked and you all played, it was just a nice feeling” Joe reflected (Vrbanac, 2016, para. 10).

This group of musicians shares a number of principles we hold at Sadie’s Place for Innovative Inclusion. Difference is not only welcomed, but also celebrated! Before we arrived at the ukulele club for the first time, I wondered what the response would be to having Allison bring her drum—this was after all a ukulele group. I hoped she would be recognized as a fellow music lover who brought in a different skill set, rather than someone who didn’t fit in with the rest of the “uke” players. And she absolutely was! Members expressed their excitement with having drumbeats among the sounds of stringed instruments. Another example of celebrating difference is in the encouragement to play intuitively, so as to welcome everyone’s unique musical style.

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The ukulele club instruments

The ukulele club also shares our Sadie’s Place philosophy that emphasizes a focus on relationships, interdependence, and collaboration. The focus of the group is on creating music collaboratively. Members look to one another for support when learning a new song or leading an old favourite. This group recognizes that no musician is an island. Through mutual support we are able to create something greater than any one person could. New members are always welcome, and the group only gets better with each new addition.

This group also shares our understanding of meaningful engagement in recreation and leisure experiences. It is clear to Allison and I that the ukulele club exists to connect people who share a love of music, rather than to train professional musicians. Occasionally, a member would pose a question about a difficult chord or strumming pattern. Don, the group leader, would always answers questions thoroughly and thoughtfully. He reminded everyone to enjoy the music first, and put technical skill second. He also emphasized that if the strumming pattern didn’t match the rest of the group, it was perfectly all right! It was this love for music and passion for playing that brought the club together.

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Some of our friends from the ukulele club

After our first visit we left the ukulele club with a renewed love of music and an expanded repertoire of songs to practice. The positive spirit of the ukulele club left us eager to return for future jam sessions. Allison will often reflect “I like the music” and will punctuate her thoughts with some singing. We are excited to call ourselves regular members of this inclusive community of people passionate about ukulele!

To learn more about the ukulele club, please read this interview with Joe in the Waterloo Chronicle! If you want to join us and be a part of the music, come check out the club on Wednesday nights from 6:30pm – 8:30pm. The club usually meets at the Wing 404 R.C.A.F.A. Rotary Adult Centre in Waterloo but for the summer we are at the Adult Recreation Centre in Uptown Waterloo. Check out the ukulele club’s Facebook page for more details. Everyone is welcome!