Congratulations, Daniela!

We are thrilled to share that our Cranberry Eco Preschool Coordinator, Daniela D’Onofrio, was awarded the Regional Award of Excellence for the Vancouver Coastal Region in this year’s provincial Child Care Awards of Excellence.

Anyone who knows Daniela knows just how warranted this is! “We nominated Daniela because of her commitment and passion to our preschool for an entire generation now. The pandemic just brought her dedication into the spotlight,” Ocean van Samang, our Director of Child and Family Services told us. “Daniela brought her usual ability to listen to the needs of the community, stay open-minded, find creative solutions, and work tirelessly to adapt the program so we could provide care to as many families in our community as possible.”

Daniela completed her Early Childhood Education at Vancouver Island University and has been enjoying her work in the field for 20 years.  She’s worked in both inclusion Powell River’s Supported Child Development program and Preschool.

While the Cranberry Eco Preschool has always had an outdoor focus, at the onset of the pandemic Daniela made accommodations to the space so that the preschool could be run entirely outdoors. After successfully applying for a grant last spring, she had a raised-bed learning garden built for the children, as a further learning tool. Old pegs and plywood were repurposed to create undercover outdoor spaces to hang backpacks and artwork outdoors. We’re proud to say that our classes have remained full throughout the pandemic, and that there’s already a waitlist for next year’s class.

Ocean describes Daniela as “truly seeing the individual gifts that each child brings. She is dedicated to creating an inclusive, magical space for children to learn and thrive, however that looks for them. The fact that she has done this during a pandemic is all the more impressive.”

The annual BC Child Care Awards of Excellence honour outstanding achievements of individuals, Daniela will be celebrated in the 2021 Child Care Awards of Excellence ceremony, taking place online this year. The ceremony will air on the BC Government Youtube channel on Tuesday, May 25th, 2021.

Update: You can view the awards ceremony at the following link:

Introducing SOAR: Supporting Older Adults through Recreation

We are thrilled to announce that we’ve added a new community service for seniors to our roster! With a generous grant from the United Way of the Lower Mainland’s Healthy Aging stream, we’re launching an 18-month pilot program offering recreational and social supports to seniors in the community. Supporting Older Adults through Recreation, or SOAR,

Our original vision for the program was to develop a drop-in centre for older adults, offering age-appropriate group exercise, cooking programs, social activities and group community outings. With the ongoing pandemic, the launch will now be online! We’re purchasing 50 tablets to lend to seniors in the community, and can fund internet connection for seniors who need it. SOAR staff and volunteers will teach program participants to use the technology to access a variety of online programming we have developed, which includes book club, cooking, bingo, chair yoga, crafts and more.

Running our local Better at Home program, we know how in-demand seniors support and connection is in our community, and we hope this new program will fulfill a gap in our current local programming options. Though we have a limited number of tablets available to lend, any older adult with access to their own technology may participate. Visit the SOAR program page to learn more!

The SOAR program is made possible by funding from the United Way of the Lower Mainland.

Together while Apart: Community Advent Calendar

For the month of December, our Community Connectors created a community-wide advent calendar! They posted seasonal images in 48 locations across town, wrote clues for each, and invited the community to find as many as they could. At each location, folks were invited to send in a selfie of themselves, to be entered in a draw. 

We were so happy with how many people sent in pictures, along with a sentence or two about what “inclusion” means to them. It was hard but we’ve picked just a few to share below. 

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A message from our incoming Board President

Every fall we hold our Annual General Meeting where our Board of Directors is elected, and the Board Executives are appointed. Below, our new Board President, David Morris, offers some insight into the structure and role of our board and its key priorities over the next year.

On September 24, 2020 we held its annual general meeting (AGM), but with COVID-19 affecting large gatherings, this year the AGM was held virtually through Zoom. Utilizing the technical expertise of our staff, the board and our members were able to take part in the meeting, hear and see the presentation from our auditors and ask questions of the Board and vote on resolutions put forward. Overall the meeting went very well.

inclusion Powell River Society’s board is made up of fifteen volunteers from which the Executive is appointed, comprised of the President, David Morris, Vice-President, Arlette Raaen, Treasurer, Paul Clements and Secretary, Joyce Carlson.

The board is a governance board versus an administrative board. Its role is to provide oversite of the organization and to ensure inclusion Powell River Society is striving to achieve its vision of creating “A safe, inclusive community where everyone belongs”. The majority of this oversight occurs through various committees which in turn report to the board at the monthly directors’ meetings.

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Belonging through Actions: Our Occupational Therapy Program

October is Occupational Therapy Month, and we are excited to take this opportunity to highlight our own occupational therapy (OT) services!

Jenelle Weidner joined us as our occupational therapist in June. Based out of the Cranberry Children’s Centre, her introduction to the youth and families we serve has been a little different than usual due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but then again occupational therapy is all about creativity and adaptability.

Below Jenelle has answered our questions about what occupational therapy is and does, and how it relates to the rest of the services we offer.

How would you describe occupational therapy to someone who doesn’t know what it is?

Occupational therapy is all about encouraging each person’s sense of self and belonging through full participation in actions and tasks. “Occupations” can be as simple as brushing our teeth or as complex as parenting. Every task or activity we do has the potential to provide us with a sense of identity and help us grow.

Why would a child come to see you?

Any person may have difficulty learning new skills.  Children are in a stage of life where learning is their focus. When they experience barriers to learning, it can interfere with their skill development and growth.

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Putting Bacon on the Table: Highlighting Inclusive Employment

Each year in September, WorkBC celebrates Disability Employment Month throughout the province. By acknowledging our local employers who are leaders in inclusive employment, we strengthen our relationships and create program awareness to other businesses who haven’t yet considered hiring a person with disability. WorkBC left it up to each agency to determine how they would like to celebrate in their community and Employment Services got busy planning. This year, the staff hit the road to deliver certificates of appreciation from WorkBC and our own window decals for inclusive businesses to proudly display. These freshly branded decals will continue to be handed to new employers who go on to hire a job seeker in our program. Our goal is to grace as many storefronts as possible throughout the area we serve.

Staff visited over 20 employers who are actively working with Employment Services to support their employee/s to be successful in their workplace. Together these employers have well over a hundred years of longevity from their employees proving once again that real work for real pay is the real deal!

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Residential Outreach Workers: Person-centred success!

We often talk about providing person-centred care, but what does that really mean? Ultimately, person-centred care is about making sure that people are involved in and have a say in their own care and support. It’s about doing things with people, and not to or for them.

The nature of this approach means that how we spend time with the people we support can look very different from person to person. It also means that we have to be intentional with how we spend time with people; person-centred care is a process that takes time to get to know the person we’re supporting, and their interests and goals.

Last November we introduced a new staff position to help support clients’ personal interests in a more purposeful way: Residential Outreach Workers (ROWs). The position was introduced to support our residential clients in pursuing personal goals and participating in the Powell River community.

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Connection in the Time of COVID

It’s a warm summer day and the sun is shining. On any other Thursday morning we would be opening the windows at the Jean Pike Centre, laying out yoga mats, greeting members of our Community Life Program, and warming up into the first poses of our weekly yoga class. This summer, though? We’re opening up the laptop, adjusting our webcam, and logging into Zoom. This is the “new normal” during the time of COVID-19. So much of our work in creating belonging for people of all ages and abilities in our community is about connection. Usually that’s in-person connection: visits with seniors, young families coming together for infant playgroups, facilitating our adult clients to pursue new relationships in the community. It’s been a huge transition to move our support relationships online – not only for ourselves, but also for the children and youth, families, and adults we support.

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You belong

The current COVID-19 pandemic has shone a spotlight on the importance of being connected and the ways that social isolation can rupture our sense of well-being. These recent times have made it so clear that we need each other, value being together, and that being alone feels unnatural and, at times, scary. For many individuals and families in our community, this awareness has been heightened in the past several months, but is not at all new.

Over the last while, as we’ve updated our logo, revamped our website, and put more attention into how we communicate with our community, we’ve been thinking a lot about what’s at the core of our work, why we do what we do, and what we want people to feel when they connect with us. When we talk about inclusion, what do we really mean?

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