APRIL 2024
FREE! TAKE ONE! Serving people since September of 2013.
Welcome to April Everyone!
April is Autism Awareness Month, and on April 2nd, we celebrate
Autism Awareness Day.
Let’s uplift, empower, and celebrate people with Autism and other
diverse abilities this month. Let’s focus on what people with different
disabilities and diverse abilities can do, not what they can’t do. This
month gives people a chance to learn more about autism and how we can
support our friends and family who have it.
Autism is something many people have, and it makes them unique in
their own special way. Did you know that people with autism can be
animators or work in the entertainment industry? We have an article
about a training academy that teaches people to those skills. People with
diverse abilities can work in different industries. They can also be selfemployed or work for someone else doing what they love, like animation.
This month, you’ll find lots of interesting things to read about. You can
learn about Ronald McDonald House and how they are a home away
from home for families and children in need.
There are also articles about self-employment and disability awareness.
We also have articles about recreation activities for people with diverse
abilities. There’s even one about adapted yoga, which is for people of all
We also have all of the usual articles, including spring jokes that will
surely make you smile. So, sit back, relax, and enjoy reading all about
autism awareness and more. Welcome to April!

Table of Contents Front page—————–page 1
Krystian’s Corner ——–page 2
World Book Night————–page 3
World Autism Month———-page 4
Aberdeen Tiny Library———page 4
Word Search —-——page 5
Ronald McDonald House——–page 6
Exceptional Minds – pages 7 & 8
Dating tips ——–———pages 9 & 10
Kindness and Compassion——page 11
Inclusive Leisure Activities —page 12
Celebrating Disability Awareness, success
stories and inclusion for all! Written by peo-

Do you have a
story idea or an event you think would
be good for our readers? Contact us at:
ple with Diverse Abilities


113-540 Seymour St., Kamloops, BC
V2C 2G9 Office phone: 250-828-1344.
We always look for writers and people
to interview.

Special thanks to The
Printing Place for your
support of the Kamloops
Self-Advocate Newsletter.

Please subscribe! Be sure to check out
our online newsletter for bonus
stories! KSA Facebook page: The
Kamloops Self Advocate Newsletter
On KSA website: ksanews.ca

The KSA has created a program to recognize and promote local businesses that are
accessible and supportive of all members of the community. The businesses listed here are
friendly, accessible, and great to deal with.
Ability Friendly Accessible Business Program
Horizon Dental Clinic
5 Bean Brewbar & Café
All Around Gamerz
The Vic Downtown
Kamloops Film society
People in Motion
New Horizons Professional Support Services Inc.
Our Footprints Eco Store

Krystian’s Corner
Hey everyone! April is super special at the Kamloops Self Advocate Newsletter because the newsletter is
celebrating World Autism Awareness Day on April 2nd! This month, we have lots of amazing stories and
articles to share with you. I wanted to create a newsletter for April all about success stories around people
living with autism and other challenges. At the Kamloops Self Advocate newsletter, we use the terms
diverse abilities to refer to what we can do, not what we can’t do. We use disabilities as well, so we use the
terms interchangeably.
I decided to focus this newsletter on autism and disability awareness this month because I want to bring attention to
‘Light it Up Blue’ for Autism Awareness Month, to help stomp out stigma and discrimination around autism.
I also wanted to raise awareness about Adapted Yoga for those with diverse abilities. You’ll find an article on Adapted
Yoga, sharing my experience of doing yoga with Dina at the Tournament Capital Center in Kamloops. I want to
Encourage people with diverse abilities to try yoga, so check that article out.
We have some tips for autism dating. Dating can be tricky. We’ll give you some helpful tips to make dating easier and
more fun for everyone!
There are some stories about people who have their own businesses. We’ll tell you about some really inspiring people
who have started their own businesses even though they faced challenges.
One of those people is Rita. She is a very talented artist with Down syndrome. Rita has made a beautiful art book, and
she sells her artwork in her online store. You can learn about Rita’s amazing journey as an artist.
We’re also excited to introduce you to Sammi Palinkas, a talented singer and songwriter from Australia. Sammi sings
country music and spreads joy with her music. You can find her awesome music videos on YouTube.
This April, we’re celebrating World Autism Awareness Day and we’re telling everyone about how awesome people
with all abilities are. We believe in celebrating everyone’s differences and talents. Let’s spread kindness, understanding,
and acceptance together this month and always.
Remember, you’re never alone. We’re here to help, support you and provide information. Let’s work together to make
the world a kinder and more inclusive place for everyone!

Spring Jokes

Why are waterbeds so bouncy?
They’re filled with spring water.
What’s the difference between spring rolls and summer
rolls? Seasoning.
What do you get when you push a bunch of Easter eggs
down a hill?
Spring rolls.
It’s allergy season again?! You’ve got to be pollen my leg.
What did the tree say during springtime?
“Well, this is a re-leaf!”
Can bees fly in the rain?
Sure, if they wear yellow jackets!

Blazers Report
By Andrew

With the second half of the season
underway, the Blazers have a record of 15 Wins 29
Losses 3 Overtime Losses and 2 Shootout Losses
through 49 games so far this season. They are sitting in
last place in the BC Division, Western Conference and
in the Overall Standings. Here’s hoping the team can
make a good push until the end of the season on March
22nd and 23rd when they play the Prince George Cougars.

World Book Night – April 23, 2024

Taken from https://nationaltoday.com/world-book-night/
World Book Night, celebrated on April 23 every year, is a special and enthusiastic holiday that brings the
power of reading to the spotlight. Did you know that reading helps you be kinder? Yes, reading can improve your brain function and knowledge. Studies have shown that adults who regularly read fiction are
more likely to engage in charity and volunteer work. However, people do not often read books as they used to in
the past, and this World Book Night aims to change all that. Let’s learn about the history, significance, and cool
facts of World Book Night.
Reading is for everyone, from children to older adults who need a cane and glasses to read, and reading is vital
for everyone. However, with all the difficulties of adulthood, people nowadays hardly have any time left to read
in their busy lives. This might be due to various reasons, ranging from poverty, health concerns, and a lack of
books! World Book Night is here to change all that.
World Book Night has been around for a while, and it aims to change the way adults view reading by encouraging them to read at night and giving them another option to take time to read. It also aims to help others read too
by donating or giving away free books. It is an annual celebration of books and reading that brings people from
all backgrounds together for one reason — well, maybe two reasons — reading and sharing the joy of reading. It
was founded in 2011 in the United Kingdom (U.K.) and Ireland by Jamie Byng, M.D. of Canongate. It was originally celebrated in March, but a year later it was moved to April to coincide with UNESCO’s International Day
of the Book.
On this day, “worldbooknight.org” will live-stream the reading event, inviting the whole world to join the reading
activity where everyone is encouraged to spend time with a good book, alone or with others. The organization
will share the list of titles selected for World Book Night. It will feature fiction, non-fiction, quick reads, and audiobooks for adults and young children.
1.Read something
The best thing you can do to celebrate World Book Night is by reading a book. It could be a short story, a poem,
fiction, non-fiction, biography, or novel. Spend some time reading.
2.Volunteer and help others
Be a volunteer and go around your local communities, hospitals, libraries, colleges, or homeless shelters. Try to
encourage others to read and grow in their knowledge of the world.
3. Give away books
If you are someone whose shelf is full of books you have finished reading, give them away to people in need.
You can check with your local bookstores to see if they will help arrange a book giveaway for a good cause.
1.It can improve mental health
In today’s world where illiteracy, negativity, and stress are stopping others from enjoying a book, holidays like
World Book Night can be a game-changer for those who really need reading. It is also a good place to start for
those who want to start reading.
2.It just gives and gives
Donating or giving away books is not only about donating a physical property but also about sharing a wealth of
knowledge and helping others open the door to a new possibility. It is like an endless donation because
knowledge will be shared from one person to another.
3.The real quality time
World Book Night gives you the perfect opportunity to spend some quality time with your friends and family by
enjoying reading. Sharing knowledge through the books
you read will enhance your quality time with them.

World Autism Month – April 2024

Canada International
Taken from https://nationaltoday.com/world-autism-month/
World Autism Month is celebrated in April. It is an annual opportunity for people all over
the world to celebrate and discuss autism. Currently, one out of every 66 children in Canada
are autistic. This statistic has risen dramatically in recent years, and it is now considered an
epidemic. Let us work together to create an inclusive Canada where autistic people can reach
their full potential.
Autism was first described in medical literature in the 1700s as part of a larger discussion of what we now call a
developmental disability. However, it wasn’t until the 1940s that scientists began to focus specifically on autism.
Leo Kanner, an Austrian-American psychiatrist at John Hopkins University, published a series of 11 case studies in
which he described 11 children who had similar symptoms. Hans Asperger’s paper soon after described a similar
condition in children. These two papers are credited with bringing autism into the public eye.
In 1980, the first formal diagnostic criteria for autism were published. The number of reported cases of autism has
risen dramatically since then. The month of April is World Autism Awareness Month, a time to raise awareness
about autism spectrum disorder. Autism affects over 70 million people worldwide and is the most rapidly growing
developmental disability in North America. This year, one in every 66 children and youth in Canada has been diagnosed with the disorder, making it the fastest-growing developmental disability.
In 2008, many countries lit up their landmarks with blue lights to increase the understanding and acceptance of
people with autism. That year, the United Nations General Assembly declared April 2 to be World Autism Awareness Day. In 2012, Canada passed legislation designating April 2 as World Autism Awareness Day to raise awareness about bullying and discrimination against people with autism.

Aberdeen Tiny Library.

By Krystian
What is your name & what is your role? My name is Mike Brown, and I am
the Branch Head of the Aberdeen Tiny Library.
How did the Aberdeen Tiny Library come to be? The Thompson-Nicola Regional Library has
been looking for ways to better serve residents of southwest Kamloops for a while now as this area of Kamloops is
underserved by the library. The Mall is an ideal location because it is centrally located and accessible by public
transit, has ample parking, and is very convenient. A small but mighty space in the Aberdeen Mall food court is an
exciting opportunity for us to get our foot in the door in southwest Kamloops and see how it goes!
What is the Aberdeen Tiny Library is all about? The Aberdeen Tiny Library is all about bringing the library to
southwest Kamloops. It is an opportunity to provide library service to this part of the community here and now,
while we continue to work on planning for a full-size library for the future. We may be small, but we are a part of a
system with 13 other branches, and a Mobile Library. Through us, patrons can connect with items throughout our
library system.
What can people find at this new library? A very fresh and recent collection, that we will be maintaining with
new items that come in every week. We have pretty much everything any of our other libraries have (books, graphic novels, audio books, DVD’s, Blue-rays, video games) but focus more on best sellers and recent releases. We also
have a Teeny Tiny Storytime on Wednesday mornings.
What do you enjoy about the Aberdeen Tiny Library? There is lots of traffic from mall customers strolling and
rolling by, and it’s great to have patrons able to do multiple things at the same location. They can shop for food,
clothes, cell phones, have lunch at the food court, and come to the library all in one place.
What is your favorite thing about the library? My favourite thing about the library is our Holds Locker. It’s
basically a vending machine that enables patrons to be able to pick up their holds whenever the mall is open. It’s
really cool technology that is very popular with our patrons.
What else would you like to add? The Aberdeen Tiny Library has been a very positive experience for me. So
many people are really happy to have a library in this area now, that it’s been a real pleasure to work here. As well,
our Holds Locker has been so popular, we are about to get another one! The library is open Wednesday through
Saturday from 12:00pm to 4:00pm.

What would a whale do?
I ponder almost daily
Hearing supersonic
A blessing and a curse
Violating privacy, I fear
Nothing left unknown
I am here
I can hear
No more about me,
without me.
—Luke Verhoeff

Autism Quotes

“If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.” – Dr. Stephen Shore, special education professor at Adelphi University
“Autism can’t define me, I define autism.” – Dr. Kerry Magro, national speaker
“When people pursue their interests, especially those that are on the autism spectrum, they have a better chance at
succeeding in life.” – Adam Jones, barn attendant at Madison Fields, part of the Madison House Autism Foundation, and Autism Spectrum Award Winner 2018
Life is too short to stress the small things anymore.” – Daryl Hannah, actress
“Autism doesn’t have to define a person. Artists with autism are like anyone else: They define themselves through
hard work and individuality.” – Adrienne Bailon
“If I could snap my fingers and be non autistic, I would not. Autism is part of what I am.” – Dr. Temple Grandin
“To measure the success of our societies, we should examine how well those with different abilities, including persons with autism, are integrated as full and valued members.” – Ban Ki-Moon, United Nations secretary general
“It’s really cool that everybody’s a little bit different, but the same, too.” — Julia from Sesame Street

Ronald McDonald House
By Krystian

Ronald McDonald House is a home away from home for people visiting BC
Children’s Hospital and it’s a great resource for families to stay together and focus on
medical treatment and medical care and to focus on their loved ones.
What is your name? What is your role?
Richard Pass Chief Executive Officer
What is Ronald McDonald House BC and Yukon?
Ronald McDonald House BC & Yukon (RMH BC) is a home away from home for families who must travel to
Vancouver for their child’s medical treatment.
Ronald McDonald House BC & Yukon is only 575 steps from BC Children’s Hospital, which keeps families close
to treatment and their child.
RMH BC also operates the Family Room in Surrey Memorial Hospital to serve and support families whose child
is being treated there.
Who can Stay at Ronald McDonald House?
All the families served at Ronald McDonald House come from outside Vancouver (50kms+ away). On average,
we support up to 2000 family visits per year from over 200 communities across BC and the Yukon.
What do families enjoy about the House?
In addition to accommodations, Ronald McDonald House BC & Yukon provides programs and supports for
children and parents such as bi-weekly Family Meals, Art and Music Therapy and many other programs that help
families cope with the challenges they face both financially and emotionally.
What do you enjoy about working at the House?
Being an essential support for families who are facing medical challenges. It’s a privilege to meet the families we
serve, as well as work closely with our dedicated volunteers, community members and staff.
What is the History of the House?
Ronald McDonald House BC & Yukon opened in 1983. We originally had a 13-bedroom House in Shaughnessy
and then as the need for more space and services grew, we determined we needed to expand and built the House
we are currently in which supports 73 families every night.
We are currently running at 100% capacity and the need to expand is critical. We are excited to be opening a
Family Room in partnership with Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops this summer and we are in the process of
fundraising to build a second House in Vancouver to double our impact.
How did Ronald McDonald House Come about?
Ronald McDonald House Charities is celebrating it’s 50th anniversary this year. The organization began with one
house in Philadelphia in 1974 and then grew across North America and then across the globe. The first RMHC in
Canada opened in 1981, followed shortly by RMH BC in 1983.
Why does the House exist?
In Canada, 65% of families live outside a city with a children’s hospital. So, if a child gets sick, they must travel
for treatment.
RMH BC provides accommodation and support for these families who could be staying for weeks, months or even
a year. Hotel stays can be expensive, siblings need to be cared for, and staying at the hospital long-term is
unsustainable. RMH BC saves families thousands of dollars a month in expenses they would otherwise be out of
pocket to cover.
What else would you like to add? How can people find you online?
There are a variety of ways to support or get involved! If people are interested in
getting involved or donating, they can visit www.rmhbc.ca

Exceptional Minds

By Krystian
Exceptional Minds and its partners are building a future where neurodiverse perspectives
advance an inclusive hiring culture in the entertainment industry.
Exceptional Minds is a nonprofit academy and postproduction studio for people with autism.
They can work in studios for example Disney, Marvel, Nickelodeon after they graduate.
For Autism Awareness Month Let’s put a spotlight on students from Exceptional Minds. They are
located in Sherman Oaks, Los Angeles, California. This school helps them with launching careers in
animation and visual effects. The student’s names will appear on the end credits of the movies. This school is wonderful and a great resource for students with autism.
What is your name? What is your role?
Terry Morello, Director of Marketing and Development
What does Exceptional Minds do?
Exceptional Minds is a training Academy for people with autism and a professional Studio for Animation and VFX
Production, that employs Academy grads and seasoned professionals.

Training Programs
Exceptional Minds offers training programs to artists with autism that develop job skills in digital arts for entertainment and adjacent fields, followed by career services that connect participants to, and help them sustain,
meaningful careers.
Programming takes place primarily at our own state-of-the-art production studio in Sherman Oaks, CA which has
divisions for Visual Effects, Animation, and 3D. More than a training ground, this warm, supportive, and exciting
high-tech environment is a place where autistic people, who are too often isolated, can find socialization and
Exceptional Minds Academy is a full-time professional training program providing instruction on use of
professional software, portfolio creation, career planning, and more – all developed to capitalize on participants’
unique strengths and meet their own interests and goals. The Academy is a three-year, full-time commitment with
training on weekdays, from 10AM to 4PM, for ten months out of the year.
Exceptional Minds also offers a variety of Part-Time Programs (private lessons, afterschool, weekend, and summer
workshops, daylong programs). These are ideal for younger students as well as adults who are interested in
exploring digital arts. Students work on personal projects that develop skills needed for later participation in the
professional Academy or just for their own enrichment.
When was this studio founded?
We just celebrated our 10th Anniversary in 2022!
What kind of animation work do people with autism create?
All kinds. Our artists have great imaginations, and work in 2D and 3D as
well as video FX and games — Check out some of their work here.
What do the students enjoy about Exceptional Minds?
Community and Creativity! Here’s a film about some of our students.
What do you enjoy about the studio?
The kindness of everyone here!
What are some success stories related to people with autism creating
animation or video FX?
With an emphasis on hands-on experience, all students in both the full-time program and workshops experience
state-of-the-art training with a path to finding their creative voice, mastering their technical skills, with the goal of
ultimately securing employment in the path to a career in animation, VFX, and other related fields. Previous graduates are currently employed full-time at companies including CBS Sports, Discovery, Disney, Pixelogic, and
Warner Bros.
Our fully working studio offers real-world experience to graduates of the Academy and is proof of the exceptional
training the Academy provides – preparing them for work on some of the most creative and successful
entertainment companies from Marvel to CBS Sports.
Continued on next page

Exceptional Minds continued
Here are just 3 of our alumni:
Thomas Harmonson graduated from the Academy in 2018. He is the Junior Lead Titles
Specialist at the EM Studio and has worked on more than 60 films!
Kate Jorgensen, after rising to production coordinator on Santiago of the Seas during her four
years at Nickelodeon (and writing an episode of the series), has now returned to Exceptional
Minds as a Production Manager. She is supporting more than 20 fellow graduate artists in our
Animation Studio. Kate credits Exceptional Minds with changing her life. “I was so used to
doors being slammed in my face. At Exceptional Minds, they open a door and say ‘Come on
in! We want you. We value you!’ That’s what Exceptional Minds is — a door to more.”
Naph Despres, Class of ’22, now works as Associate Brand Designer at Mattel Creations. Naph’s training at
Exceptional Minds prepared them for the fast-paced, creative work at Mattel. “Mattel encourages me to push
creative boundaries. I’m working on something different and exciting every
day. Being able to collaborate with diverse, innovative minds who care deeply
about the work we do, makes waking up for work a true joy.”
What do you enjoy about the studio?
The kindness of everyone here!
How can people find you online?


Dating tips for autistic adults
By Brigid Rankowski, Dr. Lindsey Sterling, Lydia Wayman and Dr. Siena Whitham
Taken from https://www.autismspeaks.org/expert-opinion/

Dating is broadly defined as two people in a romantic relationship. People who date often do things together that two
or more friends can do, like go out to eat or see a movie, except there are different thoughts and feelings involved.
Some date with the hopes of establishing a committed relationship, while others go on dates with a variety of people
to figure out what kind of person they like and/or figure out if they even want to be in a committed relationship.
Romantic relationships can have a lot of benefits, including social support, emotional connection and even better
health. But there are a few factors that can make dating uniquely challenging for someone on the autism spectrum –
like social and communication differences, sensory issues, and a need for routine.
So here, with the help of autistic adults and psychologists who work with autistic adults, we provide the following
advice to help you navigate the dating process.
Dating Tips for Autistic Adults
Who to ask on a date.
It’s best to go out with someone who has things in common with you. This could be shared or similar interests, hobbies or values. This will give you something to talk about. It is ok if you also would like to date someone who meets
your idea of attractiveness. But asking people on a date solely because of what they look like may not get you very
far in forming a relationship. There needs to be more beneath the surface to form a connection.
How to ask someone on a date
If you’re asking someone on a date in person, it’s a good idea to do it privately. You could ask a general question
like, “Would you like to go out with me sometime?” Or you could pick a couple of days and times and say, “Would
you like to do something on Saturday or Sunday afternoon?”
If you want to ask someone on a date who you met online, it might be a good idea to first just ask if they would like
to meet in person sometime. Sometimes people are different in person than they are online or over text messages,
both in how they speak and how they look. When you meet face-to-face, you can get a better idea if they are someone you would like to ask on a date.
Online dating
Dating sites can be a great forum for connecting with other people, but there are some important things to keep in
mind. Text-based communication can be challenging. It can lack tone of voice, facial expression, sometimes context
and other clues to help you figure out exactly what is being said. Take the time to clarify and think through potential
interpretations before replying.
Be careful with what you send and share. A good question to ask yourself is: would you be comfortable with others
seeing what you wrote? If you are not sure whether something is appropriate to send, check in with a trusted friend or
You never have to give personal information or send images. Anyone who really cares about forming a relationship
with you won’t pressure you to do those things. Always trust your suspicions. If something doesn’t feel right with
someone you are communicating with, stop communicating and block the person, if possible. Don’t be afraid to report profiles of people who are ignoring your boundaries.
Set up a video date before you decide to meet, so you can get to know the person face-to-face and see if it’s someone
you may be interested in meeting in person.
Picking an activity
It’s important to pick an activity and location that appeals to and is accessible to both you and your date. Consider
issues like noise levels and crowds and the potential for sensory overload. Other important factors include distance
and transportation, cost and time. Meeting at a coffee shop or a park may be a good choice when you’re first getting
to know someone. This allows you to spend a limited amount of time with your date until you know that you’re compatible and like spending time with each other.
Be safe.
Safety is important to consider when dating someone you do not know very well. Plan on meeting at a public place
for a set time. Until you really know the person, do not invite them to your home, go to theirs or pick each other up.
On a first date with a new person, it’s also a good idea to let someone else know where you’ll be and when they can
expect you will return.
Go with the flow.
Plans can change, and sometimes unexpectedly. This can be difficult and disappointing, especially when you have
made plans and had a vision of how things were going to go. But when it comes to dating someone new, it’s best to
expect some unpredictability. Your date may run late. They may have to cancel plans at the last minute. They may
experience anxiety and be unable to go through with the date. It’s important to be understanding if this happens. It
does not necessarily mean that the person is not interested. Sometimes things come up outside of the person’s
control. Try to give them another chance. Remember too, if you are going to be late or need to change plans,
communicate that to your date as soon as possible.
Continued on next page

Dating tips for autistic adults, continued
Getting to know someone.
Before going on a date, it’s a good idea to plan some questions to ask and things to talk about. It is always a safe bet to
ask them about how they got involved in your shared interest or shared experiences. If prolonged conversation is hard
or tiring for you, it can be a good idea to keep the first few dates short and/or pick an activity that doesn’t require constant conversation (example: mini golf or an outdoor concert or public speaking event). An activity that offers something to discuss can also help keep the conversation going.
Be aware of how you present yourself.
While you should never pretend to be someone you’re not on a date, you still want to present your best self. One of the
most important considerations is personal hygiene. Make sure your hair, body, breath, and clothes look and smell
clean. Even if your looks aren’t as important to you, you still want to think about dressing appropriately for the weather and activity. You do not need to be overly formal but keep in mind that good manners show the other person that
you’re thoughtful.
Decisions about disclosure
When you’re just getting to know someone, it can be hard to know how much personal information to share and when
is the right time. Some people prefer to share their autism diagnosis the first time they meet someone. But other people
prefer to wait, and that’s okay. Since things like body language can play a big role in communication, and therefore in
dating, you might want to use “soft disclosure.” For example, if making eye contact is hard for you, you can simply
say, “I have a hard time with eye contact.” They will then know it isn’t something personal or wrong. Body language,
like smiling, facing toward them, and nodding along when they talk, usually signals interest. If this doesn’t come naturally for you, it can help to say something like, “If I turn away when you’re talking, it isn’t because I’m not listening
but because it makes it easier for me to really process what you’re saying.”
Open communication
Open communication is key in a healthy relationship. Talking about expectations around how often you’ll text, call,
and go on dates can ensure both people feel heard. You may also want to talk about whether you are both open to dating other people or if you prefer an exclusive relationship. There’s no one “right” way but making sure each person is
okay with the terms of the relationship is vital.
Consent and red flags.
A person should check in with you before initiating physical affection, from holding hands to a kiss to more intimate
behavior. Likewise, you should check in with a date before you engage in physical affection. You should talk about
your boundaries and what is off limits, so no one is surprised, uncomfortable or made to feel unsafe. Consent to any
physical interaction can be withdrawn at any point in time. If someone holds your hand and then does not like it and
pulls there hand away, that means they do not consent. If you are unsure or cannot tell if your date consents, then the
answer is no, they do not consent.
It’s also important to be aware of “red flags,” or warning signs, that a relationship is becoming unhealthy. A red flag is
a concerning behavior to be noticed and never ignored. It may be difficult to bring a red flag up. It may seem easier to
minimize the behavior. But if you are noticing concerning behaviors, either at the beginning of a relationship or after
getting to know a person, you can always take a step back and de-escalate the relationship. It is far better to find out
that you were wrong about a red flag than it is to stay in an unhealthy, uncomfortable or potentially dangerous situation.
Rejection is a part of dating.
Be prepared that you may ask a person out on a date, and they may say no. Have a response ready like, “Alright, no
problem. I hope we can still be friends.” Similarly, if you are asked on a date and you do not want to date the person,
be polite and say, “Thank you for asking but I prefer to just be friends.”
All of this should be expected. Do not be discouraged. Dating involves a bit of luck and practice. But as cliche as it
sounds, when you continue to try to be your best self, you really do start to attract people who are best for you.

Awareness Days

April 2nd World Autism
Awareness Day
April 23rd World Book Night

Kindness and Compassion with Matthew Spooner
By Lisa Coriale
As self advocates, we teach those around us how to look at life from our perspective. Kindness and
compassion change our interactions from strained, stressful, unpleasant, and hurtful to easy, peaceful, joyful, and
healthy. There are many simple ways to express and offer kindness and compassion each day. This feature shows us
how many different individuals use kindness and compassion to improve their daily lives and the lives of those
around them.
Please tell me about yourself.
My name is Matthew Spooner. I am 42 years old and living in the North with my five wonderful kids and amazing
wife, Sonia. My youngest daughter, Abby, is 7 years old and has cerebral palsy.
What do you do for a living?
I am an electrical contractor.
What does kindness and compassion mean to you?
Kindness and compassion mean to me showing genuine love, respect, and patience for those around me,
without judgment.
Why is it important to show kindness and compassion to others?
It is important to show kindness and compassion to others because people matter and have real feelings. By demonstrating genuine kindness and compassion, it will affect them to treat others the same.
How do you show kindness and compassion to others?
Sometimes it’s just by simply showing up and being there; wanting to hang out. It’s being attentive to how the person
is feeling and simply listening.
How can people show compassion when they are in community?
People need to realize that they are not the only one in the group. There may be others that are quieter or have different strengths. People need to be encouragers and support those who may need it.
What are some ways people can show kindness and compassion to people with diverse abilities?
People can treat them normally while recognizing they might need help and assistance, but they don’t want to feel
different than everyone else. People can get out of their comfort zone and make an effort to understand what diversely
abled people’s challenges are and how they can help them on their terms.
Being kind to ourselves improves our mental health. In what ways are you kind to yourself? I have come to understand that I’m going to make mistakes and that’s ok.
People sometimes have negative views and/or attitudes towards people with diverse abilities. What do you do,
or can you do, to increase kindness and compassion for those who are diversely abled?
I try to be as inclusive as I can. There will be times when a challenge or situation may arise, but if we show patience
and kindness, with a bit of creativity, there is room for everyone.

Best Peanut Butter Smoothie (3 Ingredients!)

Taken from https://www.acouplecooks.com/peanut-buttersmoothie/
Prep Time: 5 minutes Cook Time: 0 minutes.
Yield: 2 small smoothies
Here’s how to make the best peanut butter smoothie! With
just 3 ingredients, it’s got the perfect sweet flavor and creamy
3 tablespoons peanut butter
2 medium ripe bananas (room temperature) *
1 ½ cups ice
¾ cup milk or non-dairy milk (like almond, oat, or coconut milk)
Place all ingredients in a blender, breaking the banana into pieces. Blend
until smooth.

July 24, 2023, Paige Flamm Caregiving, Disability Friendly Activities

Leisure Activities for People with Disabilities: Embracing Inclusivity and Fun

Taken from https://blog.giv.care/leisure-activities-for-people-with-disabilities/
In the realm of accessibility and inclusivity, “Leisure Activities for People with Disabilities” play a pivotal role in
promoting joy, engagement, and a sense of belonging. Embracing a diverse range of recreational pursuits tailored to
accommodate individuals with disabilities ensures that everyone can partake in fulfilling and enjoyable experiences.
From adaptive sports and creative arts to virtual explorations and mindful relaxation, these leisure activities
empower individuals to thrive and celebrate their unique abilities without limitations.
Inclusive Outdoor Recreation: Accessible Adventures for All Abilities
Venturing outdoors is a wonderful way for individuals with disabilities to connect with nature and experience the
beauty of the world around them. Parks, nature reserves, and trails are increasingly becoming more accessible,
providing a welcoming environment for people of all abilities. Wheelchair-accessible paths, sensory gardens, and
adapted playgrounds offer opportunities for recreation and relaxation.
One fantastic outdoor activity is adaptive hiking, where specially designed equipment such as all-terrain wheelchairs
or hiking poles with stabilizers enable individuals with mobility challenges to explore scenic trails. Additionally,
accessible camping sites with wheelchair-friendly facilities allow people to immerse themselves in the joy of
camping without barriers.
Creative Pursuits: Artistic and Crafty Leisure Activities for People with Disabilities
The realm of art and crafts provides a boundless space for self-expression and creativity, regardless of physical
ability. Engaging in artistic pursuits not only allows individuals to tap into their inner creativity but also helps them
express emotions and thoughts in unique ways.
Virtual Fun: Exploring the World from Home through Online Leisure Activities
In an increasingly digital world, virtual leisure activities have opened up exciting possibilities for people with
disabilities to explore the globe from the comfort of their homes. Virtual tours and experiences provide accessible
alternatives to physically visiting museums, landmarks, and historical sites.
Engaging the Mind and Body: Adaptive Leisure Activities for People with Disabilities
Physical activity is essential for maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and adaptive sports have emerged as a fantastic
avenue for individuals with disabilities to stay active and engaged. From wheelchair basketball and adaptive cycling
to seated volleyball and para swimming, there is an array of sports catered to specific needs and abilities.
Participating in adaptive sports not only improves physical fitness but also enhances confidence, teamwork, and a
sense of achievement. These activities also provide a platform for aspiring athletes to pursue professional sports and
even compete at national and international levels.
Mindful Wellness: Meditation and Relaxation for People with Disabilities
In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, taking time for mindfulness and relaxation is crucial for overall well-being.
Meditation and relaxation techniques can be adapted to accommodate individuals with disabilities, offering a path to
reduce stress, anxiety, and promote inner peace.
Music and Rhythm: Inclusive Musical Expression
Music has a universal language that transcends barriers, making it a powerful medium for self-expression and
emotional release. Individuals with disabilities can explore music in numerous ways, whether through learning to
play musical instruments adapted to their needs or participating in inclusive choirs and bands.
Gardening for All: Cultivating Green Spaces for Enjoyment
Gardening offers therapeutic benefits for people with disabilities, fostering a connection with nature and promoting a
sense of accomplishment. Accessible gardening spaces equipped with raised beds, vertical planters, and adaptive
tools make it easier for individuals with physical challenges to nurture plants and cultivate beautiful green spaces.
Gaming and Technology: Inclusive Digital Entertainment
Digital technology has revolutionized leisure activities, and gaming is no exception. Video games designed with
inclusivity in mind offer a wide range of options to cater to various abilities and preferences.
Embracing leisure activities for people with disabilities is not just about inclusion; it’s about recognizing the
uniqueness and potential within each individual. By providing accessible opportunities for recreation, society can
foster an environment where people of all abilities can thrive and
experience the joy of leisure pursuits. Whether through outdoor
adventures, creative arts, virtual exploration, or adaptive sports, there’s a
world of enriching experiences awaiting everyone, regardless of physical
challenges. Let us continue to support and promote inclusivity in leisure
activities, ensuring that everyone can lead a fulfilling and joyful life.

W. Ross Macdonald School for the Blind: A Place for Learning and Support
By Ben
There is a special school in Ontario called W. Ross Macdonald School. This school is unique
because it’s the only one in the whole province that helps students who are blind or deafblind. In
fact, it’s the only school in all of Canada that serves students with academic needs and is specially
designed for those who are blind or deafblind.
W. Ross Macdonald welcomes students from different parts of Ontario and even from other provinces. Some students
live far away, so the school has places for them to stay called residences. Choosing to go to W. Ross Macdonald is a
decision made by students, their parents, and their local school board. They decide that this special school is the best
place for learning and growing.
The school is not only for its own students but also helps other school boards in Ontario. They offer free services like
Short Term Programs and have consultants for Vision and Deafblind resources. This means they help students who are
blind or deafblind in other schools too!
W. Ross Macdonald has been around for a very long time. It started in 1872 with a different name but was later named
after a special person, William Ross Macdonald, in 1974. He was an important citizen of Brantford and even served as
Lieutenant Governor of Ontario.
Students at W. Ross Macdonald learn many things. They follow the Expanded Core Curriculum, which includes
various subjects based on what each student needs. Teachers and support staff are there to help students in their
learning journey.
If you want to learn more or know someone who might benefit from W. Ross Macdonald School, you can visit their
website at https://wrms.pdsbnet.ca/home It’s a place where students who are blind or deafblind can learn, grow, and get
the support they need.


By Luke Verhoeff
Half of the team dropped their gear as Howard drove onto the field.
“How will he play?” they murmured.
Howard was bound to a wheelchair after a tragic crash. His passion was soccer and he refused to give it up. He rolled
up in anxious anticipation. He wasn’t sure how his teammates would react.
“Loser”, he heard one boy say.
Coach spoke right away. “Howard is a member of this team and will be respected as such. Anyone who is incapable of
that will be asked to leave the team.” Shock rippled through the crowd but Howard stuck around.
He trained all season, and mastered kicking from his chair.
The team made it all the way to the finals and Howard was so pumped. He was living his dream!
When finals came, the team was hungry for another win. Time was racing down the clock and the score was tied. All
the boys were sweating as the game was seconds away from over. It was coming down to one final shot. One player
suggested to put Howard in. “They will underestimate him”, he shared. Howard accepted the chance to prove himself.
As he rolled onto the field, the other team
scoffed. “Easy win, boys!”, they cheered,
but Howard wasn’t phased. He set up his
shot, ready to bring home the championship trophy. The crowd went silent and
Howard could hear his heart beating. All
rested on this moment.
The ball came towards him and…………..
The crowd roared in celebration. Howard
had carried his team to victory and it tasted
Howard was underestimated no more.
—Luke Verhoeff

Spring Wreath

By Tami
Here is this month’s craft. I hope you enjoy creating this!
Cupcake Liner Wreath
Here’s what you will need:
24 white cupcake liners
1 white foam wreath form
markers or paints to color cupcake liners
sewing pins with white tops
1. Color each cupcake liners with different colors on the edge of the liners. Be sure to keep the centre
white to get the ‘flower look’.
2. Once done coloring the cupcake liners, attach cupcake liners to the foam wreath, and form with the pin
in the centre of the cupcake wreath and alternate colors to create a more fun-looking wreath. Then, get to
hanging it up!

Autism and Me

By Riley
Hi, my name is Riley and I have autism. I love autism because I feel more
connected to the universe, the world, and the people around me. I believe
it is a gift and I was put on this earth to spread what autism is about and
parents should connect with their children. I am going to write a book
about autism someday.

Meet Dina: Yoga for Everyone!

By Krystian
I want to tell you about my friend, Dina. She is a very special teacher who teaches
yoga at the Tournament Capital Center in Kamloops. (Kamloops is known as the
Tournament Capital because there are lots of sports and tournaments here.)
Dina teaches a special kind of yoga called Adapted Yoga. It’s for people with
disabilities and all abilities. That means anyone can join in, no matter what. Dina
is a great teacher because she helps everyone feel welcome and comfortable.
Yoga is really cool because it can help you feel calm and relaxed. It’s like
exercising your body and your mind at the same time. Did you know that yoga can
also help with mental health issues? That means if you’re feeling sad or worried,
yoga can help you feel better.
When we do yoga with Dina, she shows us lots of different poses and stretches.
Some are easy, and some are a little harder, but that’s okay because Dina always
helps us do our best. Yoga is like a fun adventure for our bodies!
Recreation is another word for fun activities that we do to relax and have a good
time. Yoga is a kind of recreation because it’s fun and exciting. Plus, it’s good for
us too. It’s like giving our bodies and minds a little vacation.
It’s important for everyone, no matter their abilities, to have fun and stay healthy. That’s why Dina’s adapted yoga
classes are so awesome! She makes sure everyone can join in and have a great time.
So, if you ever get the chance to try adapted yoga with a teacher like Dina, I hope you give it a try. It’s a really fun
way to stay active, relax, and make new friends.
Remember, yoga is for everyone!


By Krystian
Margaux Wosk created an online store for disability awareness. They are working hard to
raise awareness about different disabilities such as autism. They are working hard to raise
awareness around self employment for those with disabilities. They are creating a better
world for all. They are helping to reduce stigma, discrimination and educating the public
on the issues facing people with different disabilities. They are an advocate and small
business owner.
Margaux Wosk is an Autistic, Non-binary, self-taught artist, designer, writer, disability advocate and activist based in
Vancouver, BC (Unceded Coast Salish Territory).
What is your business about?
I specialize in communication tools that come in the form of enamel pins, patches, stickers etc. I also am a presenter
and public speaker. My pins focus on disability, diversity, inclusion, pronouns, access needs etc.
How did you come up with this business?
I came up with this business by feeling like there was a very large gap with the communication pins that were out
there. They were mostly colourful, vibrant and round – and not enamel pins. I wanted to “shake things up” by creating
pins that were enamel and with a more professional look. Not to mention, a unique “stackable” system where multiple pins can be worn together to create a unique message as well as being very pleasingly modular.
How do you feel being self employed and creating an online retail store for those
with disabilities?
I love being self employed so much; it has been the most accessible employment – but it’s
come at a cost, which is having to be open to learning new things as I go and not being
able to access any grants for disabled small business owners because there aren’t any.
Creating my online retail store is for really anyone who finds value in my items.
How can we support Canadian Entrepreneurs with Disabilities?
I would say by engaging with us, promoting our work and letting people know about
what we do. I also think writing letters to government officials about BC Disability Employment month actively excluding self-employment would be a great start. Please engage with us, spend money
with us and share our content as much as possible.
How can we increase disability representation in businesses?
There’s already organizations that are dedicated to this and I wish they did a lot less of tokenizing. It’s a really problematic way to promote hiring disabled people. I think self employment being recognized would be a great place to
How can we support self employed people with disabilities?
We need more funding, more programs that actually meet our needs and we need to have a larger community or organization dedicated to this. I would love to start a non profit, I just haven’t had the time to do so because I’m not at
the point of being able to hire anyone to help me. There are no subsidies for that, either.
How can we raise awareness about the benefits of being self employed regarding autism or other disabilities?
I would just say we need to continue to talk about it, create content on all kinds of platforms and actively engage with
folks like myself. The more visible we are, the more we can start to change things for the better.
How can the government support people being self employed with diverse abilities?
The government could help support disabled people (sorry, I don’t use euphemisms for disabled) by actually having a
grant, including us in government documents when talking about disability and employment and actually let us in to
rooms to have conversations with politicians instead of other people co-opting our voices. That’s not something I’m
okay with and that’s something that has occurred a lot.
What else would you like to add? How can people find you online?
I just feel like for me, this has been the best employment I have ever created for myself. Being employed by someone
else has been okay, but it certainly didn’t meet my needs. I wish more people could realize that when we are in charge
of the entire employment experience, that’s when we can actually innovate to create items to serve our communities
and the communities aligned with us. I think there’s something to be said for how disabled and neurodivergent people
can be
incredibly innovative, and I have yet to find an incubator or program to really mentor and help us grow and expand
without trying to encourage us to take on debt.
I can be found at http://retrophiliac.etsy.com, www.shopretrophiliac.com, @retr0philiac on tiktok, retrophiliac on facebook, retrophiliacart on instagram.
Thank you!

My Art, My World with Rita Winkler
By Krystian
Rita Winkler lives with Down Syndrome and makes beautiful artwork! She had lots of
success in creating art with support from her mom. She is overcoming her barriers and
obstacles with encouragement from her mom. She lives in Toronto. She had a chat with
me about how she makes art. Way to go Rita! She created a book called My Art, My
World. She also sells her artwork in her online store.
How did you come up with the book called My Art, My World?
My mom, my uncle and I all worked on the book together. My uncle, Mark Winkler,
came up with the title. See below for more information on how the book came to be.
What do you enjoy about the book? I like showing and reading the book to people
at events.
What got you interested in creating art?
I started making art in my day program DANI Toronto as we have an art show every year. During covid I started
taking more online art classes with L’Arche London Ontario, and learned about watercolours. My mom also helped
me to learn how to use watercolours. Even before I started with painting, I always made birthday cards for my
friends and family.
During covid my uncle put together a book of my art to try to raise money for my programs. A
publisher saw the book and asked if I and my family would be interested in having a children’s
book published using my art and talking about my life. So that’s how my book came about. After my book was published, people started asking to buy some of my paintings. We started an
online store and I keep creating new paintings. We sell paintings and printed items in my
online store.
What do you enjoy about making art? Painting makes me feel happy. I especially love to
paint birthday cakes for my friends and family.
What is your favorite piece of art? My favorite painting is Anat
the Cat
What do you find the most rewarding about art? I like how my art makes people feel
What are your disabilities or diverse abilities?
I have Down syndrome. I have some difficulty with spelling, speech, math and shapes
and lines. My mom has come up with ways to help me work with shapes and lines in my
art. We share our methods on my website so other people can try them too.
What is your journey like, living with Down Syndrome? Since graduating from high
school, I have had a job with the Common Ground Cooperative. I work in their coffee shop at the University of Toronto and in their cookery called Lemon and Allspice. I also attend a day program in Toronto called Dani Toronto.
Here I get to do all sorts of things like drama, literacy, and I meet new friends. I also take yoga which I really like. I
live at home with my mom. I have two sisters who live in other parts of Toronto. My dad
passed away when I was in my teens.
How can people find you online?
https://www.ritawinkler.art/ is the best way to find me.
I also have social media as another way to find me:


What else would you like to add?
Everyone should try new hobbies. You never know what can happen!

Country Music Singer and Songwriter

By Krystian
Sammi Palinkas is an Australian contemporary Country artist & songwriter
who started singing at the age of 3. She sings songs like ‘Meet in The
Middle’, which I love, and other wonderful songs. She is a great
performer. Look her up on YouTube. I interviewed her about her music.
What do you enjoy about Country music? Why did you want to sing
Country music?
Country greats such as Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers, and Loretta Lynn
amongst others, made up a lot of the music my parents played when I was
growing up. I really got into Country during the late 90s/early 2000s when
Shania Twain, Faith Hill, LeAnn Rimes & a bit later Carrie Underwood
were topping the charts. I fell in love with the style of songwriting – the
storytelling and messages that the songs conveyed. I recorded my first original Country song when I was 19 but decided to pursue Pop at the time because that’s where my style of songwriting led me. Fast forward a few
years and I’ve gone full circle! I have life experience, stories to tell and a
tone that I feel are much more aligned with my love of the Country genre,
and I finally feel at home with my music!
How did you get into the music business?
I danced as child and singing naturally came as part of that. My journey in
the music industry began when I won a national televised singing competition (here in Australia) at the age of 8, to celebrate the release of the Children’s movie “Anastasia” and sending my family on an all-expenses paid
trip to Paris. My love for performing led to many stage and TV appearances, including at the age of 11 when I appeared in the professional production of “Annie” at the Regent Theatre here in Melbourne starring Anthony Warlow. Eventually I found more
contemporary styles of music when I started writing songs, and that was the beginning of my journey as an
Artist and songwriter.
What do you enjoy about singing?
Music means so many things to so many people. I love that certain songs remind me of the most amazing
memories I have and important moments in my life, and I love that listening to music and singing invokes so
much emotion in me. I love songwriting and singing because if I can reach one person in the way that music
reaches me, then I feel like I’ve done my job as an Artist. Reaching people through my music brings me more
joy and happiness than I could ever explain,
What do you enjoy about YouTube as a singer and songwriter?
YouTube is an amazing platform for sharing your art and finding an audience that enjoys what you do. In many
ways it’s like a virtual stage! I love that by sharing videos, you get to put some personality to your songs and
illustrate the song or the story behind the song in a visual way. It’s connecting with audience on a whole new
What do you enjoy about your music career?
I love that I get to share something I’m really passionate about and that makes me happy for a living – singing,
songwriting and performing is such a big part of who I am, I am very grateful that I get to do what I do!
Where are you based?
I’m based in Melbourne, Australia.
What else would you like to add?
I’m currently recording my debut album with Producer Rod McCormack (Lee Kernaghan, The Wolfe Brothers,
Paul Kelly). We’re 13 tracks through, and I cannot wait to share more music with you in 2024! Thank you for
listening to my music and following my journey!
Link https://www.sammimusic.com/

Indelible: A Social Worker in the Wake of Civil War by Wendy Nordick
Wendy Nordick volunteered for Canadian University Services in Sri Lanka for two years after their 30
year civil war. She wrote a book about the experience and has a book launch at Kamloops Chapters/
Indigo on:
April 21st at 11:00 -1:00 pm.
About the book Driven by a long-standing desire, her education and her faith, mental health professional, Wendy Nordick, and her husband Bill Blair, a retired judge, plunged into a two-year assignment with Canadian University Services Overseas. She believed her 25 years of clinical social work
were appropriate credentials to help a country with the highest rates of suicide in the world. Bill hoped to work for
peace and justice. They felt they became laughingstocks when work visa delays left them homeless. Days before
leaving, Wendy’s father died. Once in Sri Lanka, she shivered in a rickety beer factory cum hospital where she
taught mental health skills. A year later, she was transported into steamy, bombed out Jaffna, the epicenter of a civil
war to teach a trauma team who worked with the war affected and tortured during the war. She was humbled by
what she did not know and sought help from a previous refugee.
About the Author Wendy Nordick holds a PhD and practiced social work for 25 years in acute care psychiatry and
mental health in Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada. She has published academic journal articles and is a member
of a local writing group. She is a lover of literature. As a life-long learner, she is tackling the intricacies of bridge,
and meets her need for fresh air with skiing, pickleball, cycling and hiking. She and her husband, Bill, love
adventure and have visited more than 40 countries. Scuba diving is a thrilling aspect of their travels. A mother of
five children and two stepchildren, she delights in her 11 grandchildren.
Indelible: A Social Worker in the Wake of Civil War by Wendy Nordick is published by Austin Macauley
Publishers and is available on Austinmacauley.com and Amazon and all major booksellers.
Book proceeds after expenses will go to TRU School of Social Work Bonnie Brooks Foundation and to CUSO, the
organization that sent me to Sri Lanka
Website: https://www.amazon.ca/Indelible-Social-Worker-Wake-Civil/dp/1398439142/ref=sr_1_1?

An Amazing Race to Inclusion
You are invited! The Speak Up Self-Advocacy
Awareness (SUSA) Society hopes you will join
us for an exciting event that celebrates
diversity and promotes inclusivity! An Amazing
Race to Inclusion is an in-person event taking
place in downtown Kamloops on May 3rd. The
event begins at the Sandman Centre, where
you will find the “Breaking Barriers Expo”. You
will have a chance to find out about different
services and opportunities in Kamloops that
support people with diverse abilities.
Get ready for a morning filled with fun
challenges, team building activities, and
opportunities to connect with people from all
walks of life. Whether you’re a seasoned racer
or new to the game, this event is perfect for
everyone! So, gather your friends, family, or
colleagues and get ready to race towards a
more inclusive world. Don’t miss out on this
incredible experience!


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