Tuesday, 6 August 2019

Ability Friendly Access Business Program by Krystian Shaw - Ability Online member and disability advocate

I run and own a newsletter in Kamloops BC Canada called The Kamloops Self Advocate Newsletter. that focuses on disability awareness, success stories and inclusion for all as well as a new program/service is starting up for September for Kamloops and surrounding area businesses called Ability friendly Access business program that will certify businesses as disability friendly and welcoming to all and some doctors who have a knack for serving and dealing with patients who have disabilities like developmental disabilities, mental health issues or autism and other kinds of disabilities. We would like medical offices to become scent free and disability friendly places to go to and to visit your doctor or chiropractic doctors etc. The program costs 15 dollars every 3 months or 50 dollars for the year. With this program you also get a certificate with a frame to hang up on your business wall for customers or patients to see. As well as a listing in our monthly newsletter. This is a very exciting and unusual project to happen in Kamloops and surrounding  area. We will be making places disability friendly and accessible and friendly. people like to know if you support diversity, inclusion and access in your business or medical office. People like to deal with businesses who has the same values as their customers or  patients. We will certify them as being good places to eat or shop at or go to. 

Thanks to Jan's (my marketing assistant) idea I ran with it and we all came up with good ideas. I also been in touch with Media and other businesses in Kamloops like Fun Factor to give a certificate to. All the certificates come with a frame and a listing in the monthly newsletter.  This is a dream come true for my city and surrounding areas. 

I live with developmental disabilities and an anxiety disorder and ADHD and I wanted to create a new service to mark my 6th anniversary year of doing this for society and people with all disabilities including but not limited to mental health issues.  I also would like to thank Jan for her idea.

We also want to congratulate businesses for serving us. as customers from all abilities as well as from diverse backgrounds. We also would like to say good job to businesses for hiring us as employees and much more. 

I also would like to say you can do anything you set your mind too with the right supports in place. Please feel free to share this inspiring story.

I am the president at the Kamloops Self Advocate.

Monday, 27 May 2019

One Foot in Front of the Other: Stepping Outside of Your Comfort Zone By Remy Martino, Ability Online Member and Mentor

One day at work, one of my coworkers asked me, out of the blue, if I had any summer goals. There were no customers in desperate need of assistance, so I had no way out of this question. I can’t remember what I told her, but I can imagine it was something along the lines of: “I don’t know, man; read more, write more, do more…try some new stuff.” Nice and vague, and it seemed to satisfy them. 
This exchange, though, has made me wonder; what ARE my goals, and WHY are these goals the goals I set? I always want to do MORE, but is there something more concrete I could focus on? While reading and writing more sounds noble, I’m already on my fourteenth book of the year, so I think I’ve got that covered.
At this point, you may be wondering what my inability to set legitimate goals has to do with Ability Online and the users it supports…  Well, hey, don’t interrupt, I’m getting there.
See, Ability Online has many forums open for discussion; asking questions like, “What’s your favourite super hero? (Captain America) and “What are you afraid of?” (Spiders; they have so many legs, and are so very fast.) But the forum I want to talk about now is called “Stepping Outside Your Comfort Zone.”
On this forum, people have discussed things like social anxiety and fears, and personal goals and triumphs.  As we’re all different, there is a wide array of posts; all of these goals are valuable, regardless of magnitude.
“Remy, no. That’s silly. A goal to “read more” or make a new pal, or learn a new bus route isn’t as valuable as going back to school, or learning how to cook.” 
Isn’t it, though? 
Those who use Ability Online experience life differently; they may or may not have certain limitations which they must cope with in order to prosper. From the second these limitations are discovered, they are labelled and defined. “You can’t run; you’ll suck at math; you’ll never see anyone like you in movies or on TV” 
The act of stepping outside our predetermined and often very comfortable comfort zones as we age becomes even more important than ever because of these labels and definitions thrown our way. While those who label and define us may have some knowledge and even, maybe, some experience, the only way we’ll ever find out what we can do, is to do it….or try to, anyway. 
So, yeah, I’ll say it again; every goal on this forum has immense value; I don’t care how big or how small. While comfort Zones can be, well, comfortable, they can get a bit boring, repetitive, and predictable.  
As a final word, I implore you to set your summer goals; and know that Ability Online will be around to share in your triumphs all season long.

Tuesday, 16 April 2019

The Importance of Time Management by Kiersten Robertson

Time management is one of the most important things that a person must learn in their life.  It is one that I have personal struggles with and am now even facing issues because I have poor time management skills.  
What is Time Management?
Time management is usually seen to be as simple as the word are to say. It is where you manage your time.  Unfortunately, it is not that easy.  By definition Time management is managing your time in an effective manner that when put towards a specific activity will help you reach a specific goal. It is important to use this tool as it will help you in all ways of life. Time management includes five main activities in general:
1.    Effective Planning
2.    Setting goals and objectives
3.    Setting deadlines
4.    Prioritizing activities as per their importance
5.    Spending the right time on the right activity
Each step is extremely important to how to manage your time.  I personally have missed a few steps and it is difficult to make up for what you miss out on because of poor time management skills.
Effective Planning
This is essential to have effective planning when trying to get things done in a timely manner.  If you are able to plan ahead about what needs to be done it is best to get this done early.  This step is one that gets me into trouble a lot.  I have trouble coming up with plans and when I do. I tend to forget to actually put things in to effect.  A good way to combat this would be to set reminders to do this early and not wait until time is almost out.
Setting goals and objectives
Setting goals and objectives can be both a simple and difficult task at the same time.  A goal can be something as easy or as simple as deciding what must be done. For example, “I will go to the gym today”.  That can be your goal for the day. A more complex goal might be something like “I must finish this assignment that is worth the majority of my grade”. This goal is a bit more complex as it can have many smaller goals within it such as what part of the assignment should be finished when.
Setting deadlines
Deadlines are the one thing that tends to make time management hardest for me.  Sometimes the deadlines are personal, other times they are set by others and if they are not met it can get you in a world of trouble.  I find that this step is one of the ones that I forget the most.  Not meeting a personal deadline is what gets me into the most trouble.  I may remember the hard deadlines but the ones I set for myself usually end up blowing away with the wind.  A trick I am learning to use is to set reminders on my phone for a week before my personal deadline is meant to be hit and again for a few days before.  
Prioritizing activities based on their importance & Spending the right time on the right activity
This step really has inclusions in all the other steps as well. To be able to set goals and deadlines you must be able to see what is more important than other things. Something that can be difficult is realizing one’s own faults and being able to correct the mistakes that have been made.  It is important to realize when too much or too little time has been given to a specific task so that you can try and use what time you have left to what is truly important.  I personally know I have not devoted the time and effort that I should here on Ability Online and unfortunately it is not something that can be fixed with a sorry.
Time Management is important for every person.  If I could turn back time, go back to January when I was introduced to this website would I do things differently? YES.  Unfortunately, it is impossible to turn back time.  It is my hope that I can just do better in the future.  I took the fact that I am doing this as a placement online that I would be able to focus and do things right. Now I see that without proper time management I still can make mistakes and make things difficult for those around me.  
I hope that by writing this I can help anyone that has time management problems like I do and maybe even one less person will have the problems that I deal with now.
My advice: Be organized, be focused and don’t take something for granted just because you think it will be easy. Do not make excuses and do what you must to complete your tasks and your life may have a lot less challenges. 

Monday, 25 March 2019

Financial Literacy by Ana Kirmani

Finance is a huge part of our everyday lives as children, teenagers, students and adults.  We all need to understand how to save, invest and plan our financial future. 

Here on Ability online, Elizabeth Naumovski discusses ‘Financial literacy’, without jargon, in plain language, within our Financial Literacy Forum. 

Now a little bit about the astounding women that is Elizabeth Naumovski. Elizabeth is well versed in the financial arena, having worked on Bay Street for over 20 years. She has her Chartered Marketer designation and  also has her Investment Advisor licence.

She hosts a 30 minute show called Finance is Personalwhich airs on CHCH TV Hamilton on Saturday & Sunday mornings. When the show is not on television, you and audiences worldwilde, can watch it 24/7 on YouTube. The show tackles issues women and everyone face throughout their lives financially. Topics can be the basics such as what is a stock or an RRSP, the laws of living together and marriage, teaching your children about investing, the finance of divorce, the death of a loved one, debt and budgeting and FOMO (the fear of missing out). She helps prepare you for situations that you might not know exist by discussing financial literacy and gives you the education to prepare for events when life throws you life altering curve balls financially.  

   Through her online Financial Literacy forum, she discusses important questions such as; How should we plan for our future? and When should we plan our future? With her professional guests they explain and tackle these pressing questions that we all face within out day to day lives. The financial industry has so many different buzz words and use jargon that simple things can get quite confusing, complicated and difficult. 

With the help of Elizabeth Naumovski, Ability Online has created a forum for members called ‘Finance is Personal,’ where member’s questions can be discussed and responded to. 

 Elizabeth and guest speaker Cindy Crean touch upon this in the first episode of the online series. What is the importance of a Financial Advisor? Someone who is looking out for your best interests and can help you when it comes to investing, saving, mutual funds, and stocks. Ironically, many of you had asked these same questions in the forum; regarding mutual funds, investing, saving and much more. Elizabeth responded to your questions with a great amount of detail and even gave examples as to what you can do financially and how you can achieve it. 

Now here are the tips to Financial Literacy!

Savings can be quite difficult as life can be unpredictable, and the amount of money  you have on a monthly basis might have to go towards the unexpected without any extra left over for savings. One of the best ways to save is to start now! Put aside $20 (or whatever amount you can afford) per week or per month and begin to live your life without that cash. Create a budget and see where your money is spent on a monthly basis, it will be easier for you to create a savings plan and actually stick with it if you know exactly what your monthly expenses are.  The key is to live your life without debt. If you can’t afford it, don’t buy it. Now, there are times in your life when this is impossible and you need to go into debt. That’s why an emergency fund is important to have. Always put money aside in an emergency fund as well, so that when you have an “emergency” situation, you will have some funds to back you up.

Mutual Funds:
Mutual funds are different investment vehicles that most people mistaken as an RRSP (“Registered Retirement Savings Fund”) or TFSA (Tax Free Savings Account”). A mutual fund is the investment vehicle that you put in your RRSP or TFSA. A mutual fund is a collection of different company stocks and bonds that are part of a portfolio. Investors purchase a unit of the mutual fund so that they have invested in a portion of the mutual fund. As Elizabeth explained it's like putting items into a shopping cart, the mutual fund is your shopping cart and every item in the shopping cart is added or deleted by the Portfolio Manager. Please note, mutual funds are not guaranteed. Their value will go up and down with the stock market. If you have invested in a very risky mutual fund, then the value of that fund will fluxuate a lot. You should always invest depending on your personal risk tolerance and what makes youc comfortable and will let you sleep at night.  

When you purchase a stock, you are actually purchasing ownership in a company. For example, let’s say that your favourite make-up is a Red Lipstick (also known as the Red Lipstick Company “RLC”). The RLC is a private company, owned by one or many individuals or even employee owned.  After functioning as a small company, the RLC has decided to become a publicly traded company and sell shares into their company.

This means that the RLC is going to sell portions (shares) of the company to the public.  The RLC has a certain number of shares that are available on a stock exchange (open market) and the public can purchase or sell the shares. What you are essentially doing is purchasing ownership of the company.  Therefore, if you own stock in the company, you have become a small owner/investor in the RLC company. You are now a shareholder and can vote at Annual Meetings.

Elizabeth Naumovski

Friday, 15 March 2019

The Accessibility of Storytelling by Remy Martino

Seven months ago I decided to join the community of Ability Online; since joining, I’ve had countless conversations on message boards, and raced to keep up with the unbelievable pace of Monday Night Chats.  
For those who aren’t aware, Ability Online is a community, meant to encourage those with special needs to connect and build friendships.  We talk about things like the weather (It’s cold and snowing; spring, where are you?), our favourite things (the colour blue, Italian food, and SHORT walks on the beach.) There’s something for everyone and anyone, you just have to search the forums, and you’ll find yourself a friend.  
While I tend to hop around and answer any post, I’ve recently noticed a forum titled “Write Now.” This is a place for writers to talk about or share their writing with people who also like to write or read. After scrolling, I started thinking, and I have a thought. Here we go…
Storytelling is the world’s most accessible form of human entertainment and connection.  
Literally anyone can write, read, or share a story with minimal accommodation, and when you’re world is made up of modified or accommodated activities every day, all day…to be able to do something the way it was meant to be done, or in a way that is accepted by other members of your society, it means a lot more than you would guess. 
Some of us may require the use of text-to-speech technology, communication boards, or computers…but at least we can all tell stories that can be understood and appreciated by the people around us. I’m not saying we’re all going to be the next Robert Munsch or L.M Montgomery; but, thanks to Audiobooks, E-books, movies, television, and developmentally appropriate reading material, we can all enjoy a good story without feeling different or singled-out by our abilities. 
Listen, I know the world isn’t a perfectly accessible fairytale, and that there are many dragons that need slaying in the days to come. But, for the moment, I am happy to see that we can all curl up and appreciate a story; in whichever method we choose. 

Confidence and coming out of your Comfort Zone by Farah Panchbhaya

Confidence may be a hard concept to actually obtain for many people. Gaining confidence may be a challenge but it is not impossible. Have you ever heard of the phrase “Fake it till you make it”? well, sometimes following that may actually work. 

Let me use myself as an example. Growing up, I didn’t mind public speaking. I would even volunteer to work as assembly hosts and morning speakers in elementary school. However, by the time I reached high school, I hated it. I hated any attention that was given to me and this made doing presentations in class quite difficult. 

Now fast forward to University, I am back to enjoying public speaking and doing presentations. Why a sudden change? Confidence. Now don’t get me wrong. I didn’t just come to university and suddenly love presenting again. I knew it was impossible to hide from it and so of course, I faked my confidence. Eventually, I started getting comfortable. This just goes to show that confidence is gained and achieved, and it’s not easy. I know I’m not perfect and I do get nervous quite a bit but there is nothing wrong with trying and pushing yourself to be the best you can be. 

Here are some tips to help you build confidence! 

1.    Be Fearless! 
2.    Don’t Care What Others Think
3.    Challenge Yourself
4.    Do What Makes You Happy! 

Sunday, 10 March 2019

March Break Ideas by Ana Kirmani

March Break is finally here YAY! 

    A week off of school to have fun and enjoyable break. To make memories and spend time with loved ones this March break get started with activities and things to do both at home and exploring the outdoors.  Here is a list of places to go and things to see, as well as what activities you can embark on at home.

Places to go and things to see include:

  1. The ROM (Royal Ontario Museum): March Break programs start from the 9th all the way to the 17th for all ages. From finding treasure, to meeting new species of Dinosaurs, including interactive and accessible for all. With displays and informative tours that incorporate all five senses, allows one to learn and explore information through a comprehensive experience.
  2. The AGO (Art Gallery of Ontario): Another place to visit during March break would be the AGO. With it's all inclusive march break programs and events from 10:30 to 4pm, kids and teen can participate in a variety of classes. Each day there is something recently discovered to explore and a new creative activity to make!
  3. Toronto Zoo: This year the Toronto Zoo offers a scavenger hunt along with a live screening of the latest seasons show. With the guest appearances from your favourite furry friends of course!
  4. Imagine Dragons at Casa Loma: Interactive castle experience with fairy tale like era with Imagine Dragons in Castle Loma. A series of theatrical performances from March 9 to March 17th.
  5. Crock a doodle: I have recently just found this gem not too long ago, a great way to learn pottery or select a variety or ceramics to paint with your loved ones. Crock a Doodle has a variety of location within the GTA, with their Drop in Studios just make sure you call in ahead!

Want to stay in, here are some activities you can do!

  1. Baking: March break is the perfect time to try out new recipes and have fun in the comfort of your own home.
  2. Crafting: A great way for some creative fun with you family and friends. Turn Pinterest ideas to DIY projects; for instructions or ideas members can visit Ability Online’s Fun stuff page for more crafts.
  3. Movies: Watching movies are a great way to escape our world and explore another. During the March break stay in or even go out to the movies for all inclusive experience.
  4. Games: Want to travel another realm, well through the march break you can accomplish this by playing games. Both board games and video games can help you bond, have fun, and create memories with your loved ones. Feel free to check out all inclusive games at Ability Online.