This project was adopted at the 2014 AGM as a new Eco/Social Justice Project for Toronto First. Our goal is to create a meaningful connection between two communities - the 56 people, including Mark, who live with physical and communication challenges at New Visions Toronto homes and apartments and our community at Toronto First - in a way that enhances the capabilities of both communities. Look for many opportunities over this coming year to make life better at New Visions Toronto and to expand your capacity for engaging with people who will welcome your friendship.
Watch Ainsley Kendrick's loving yet informative interview with Mark and Barb Wentworth
to learn more about Mark’s life living with Rett Syndrome:
Mark and Barb Wentworth are frequent Sunday attendees at Toronto First. We invite you to come over and get to know them. As much as Mark would like to approach you — he must wait for you to come over and chat with him. Here are some tips to make that easy:
- Sit down and make eye contact with Mark. It’s hard for him to look up.
- Talk slowly and quietly if Mark is really excited to see you.
- If you ask Mark if he wants a cookie or something else that’s on offer, he will always say yes, so check with Barb or his caregiver Mathew before offering anything because he has difficulty swallowing some foods.
- Mark loves animals. Share stories and/or photos of your pets.
- Check out Mark’s picture book and tell him stories from your life that his pictures bring to mind.
- Mark likes to laugh and loves jokes, like ‘knock, knock who’s there’?
- Mark will often say to you “Be careful” as a term of caring and endearment.
Thanks for coming for “Tea with Mark”.
We hosted over 20 “Teas” and have had 77 people come to visit. (Mark’s and my gratitude to each and everyone of you. You make a positive impact with your presence). Mark and his roommates and other guests enjoyed each visit. Additionally, six members of the Toronto First choir led a very popular singalong at NVT. Fiddlers have volunteered over two years to play at the NVT Holiday Party bringing lots of joy with them.
We will start again in the Fall and send you an invitation to visit for “Tea with Mark”. Meanwhile, we look forward to chatting with you at coffee hour at First.
(date to be announced): Croquet in the City
Friends of New Visions Toronto will develop a year-long list of activities that will help us step into another’s shoes and raise our awareness and understanding of disability and inclusion. These activities will challenge us and encourage us to be courageous and to open our hearts as we try new attitudes and approaches to people who are differently-abled. And as we develop these opportunities, we hope you will bring your knowledge, curiousity and creativity to help expand our ‘list of possiblities’.
If you (like those at New Visions) had to:
- wait for assistance just to leave your home, or
- find resources to pay for a day program outside of your house,
you would probably spend much more time at home than you want to! This would be a big problem if you like being with people and having new and interesting things to see and do.
That's where all of us, as part of Friends of New Visions, can make a big difference to those living in the New Visions homes. If you have an activity that you really love to do, come down to New Visions and share it with the people who live there. An hour of your time could really brighten their day. NVT staff is always present for support.
Storytellers sign up to come in for an hour, tell a few stories, have a cup of tea or coffee
Who’s on the team to date: Catherine Kentridge; Peter Brydon.
Singers, drummers, karaoke, instrument players, performers
Who’s on the team: Interested?
Pet Visiting Team
People who join this team bring their pet down for a visit. Pets must be good at visiting!
Who’s on the team: Interested?
Apt/House Reno Team
People who join this team will get satisfaction to spruce up a room.
Who’s on the team: Interested?
Opportunities abound! See more details in the spring.
Who’s on the team: Interested?
Got an idea for a team? Suggest it here. Here are some ideas.
- Video nights – come watch an interesting video (ie. Ballet)
- Hobby teams – whatever your hobby is – bring it down and share it.
- Artists team – painting, crafting, etc.
- Social group/visitor team – visit for tea, coffee
- Healthy cooking – make food☺
- Video games or computer skills – explore a kid-friendly website. Maybe learn something about adaptive tech.
A screening of ‘Audism Unveiled’ was held after service on Sunday January 10th in Shaw Hall at noon. “You’ve heard of sexism, racism, anti-Semitism… How about audism? Audism is discrimination based on the ability or inability to hear. This powerful documentary uses real life experiences from Deaf people of varied social, racial, and educational backgrounds – showing how audism does lasting and harmful damage.
Audism, noun: the notion that one is superior based on one’s ability to hear and speak or behave in the manner of one who hears and speaks.”
This was a powerful documentary which can be seen on YouTube.
Tamarack’er Down Fiddlers
"A big thanks to Sue Meggs-Becker, Anne Lederman and all of the fiddlers of Tamarack'er-Down who played at a Holiday Party for New Visions Toronto on Sunday December 13. It was a toe-tapping, wonderful time enjoyed by Mark and others who live and work at New Visions. It had a meaningful impact!" span>
A small group of 18 adventurers went for lunch in the dark on Sunday October 25, 2015. We were able to donate $81.00 to New Visions Toronto. This was the second year at O.Noir. In 2014, sixty-eight people joined in to see what it was like to spend some time without their sight. Thank you to everyone for joining in.
Mark, Barb and Matt all took part in the Run4Rett on Sunday, September, 20th 2015. Thanks to the generosity of many and First and friends and family, Mark raised $585!
Parapan Am Games Wheelchair Basketball
On Aug. 9th, a group from First ventured down to the old Maple Leaf Gardens to take in 3 wheelchair basketball games. The first game was men’s USA vs Puerto Rico and the USA outperformed to win 95 to 36. The second game was a women’s game – USA vs Peru. The USA played a tight zone defence and Peru wasn’t able to get in the game in any meaningful way (although they made some spectacular mid court baskets). The final game (women’s Canada vs Mexico) was fabulous. Canada was stronger than Mexico but it was a fun game with one-on-one defence and amazing speed and skill from both teams. The final standing in both the men’s and women’s wheelchair basketball had gold medals going to the USA and the silver medals going to Canada.
Congratulations to these amazing athletes.
Mouth and Foot Painters exhibit – July and August
Library Art: July - August
The Mouth and Foot Painting Artists (MFPA) is an international organization, owned and controlled by its artist members, whose purpose is to make contact with artists who have lost the use of their hands through birth defect, accident or illness, and now paint with their mouths or feet.
There are currently 12 disabled artists working in Canada. Eleven of the artists are mouth painters and one is a foot painter. Read more...
BrainFest on April 26!
The Neurological Health Charities Canada provided materials to set up 5 stations to explore activities that mimic the experience of a person with a brain condition and the challenges they may experience. We set up the following stations for the RE kids to engage with. Thanks to the following volunteers and the kids who had fun and were intrepid explorers in this endeavour.
1. Vision – Meghan Edmonds
2. Sensation – Beth Windeler
3. Communication – Wendy Ounpuu
4. Cognition – Ben Robins
5. Mobility – Catherine Kentridge
6. Discussion in Shaw Hall – Elizabeth Michnick
The award-winning film Alive Inside was shown in Shaw Hall on Sunday, January 25, sponsored by Friends of New Visions Toronto.
Alive Inside has been described as “a joyous cinematic exploration of music’s capacity to uncover the deepest parts of our humanity”, and the large audience who viewed the film on Sunday can attest to that. We saw for ourselves the remarkable changes that personalized music tracks made, for patients who had been non-responsive in institutional settings, or severely restricted by their capacity for daily life by Alzheimers Disease.
The film was presented and the discussion facilitated by Sabrina McCurbin from the Alzheimer Society of Toronto (www.alzheimertoronto.org). Sabrina answered many questions from the audience, and described the iPod Project, which is now enabling many patients in the Toronto area to benefit from this innovative therapeutic method.
At the end of the discussion, Wendy Dines showed us the Comfort Quilts that are being made by members of her Quilt Guild for distribution to individuals with dementia, and made available several quilts and quilt-making kits.
This showing is the latest in a series of disability-awareness events, sponsored by Friends of New Visions Toronto, an Eco-Social Justice project at First. It was shown on the day that a Special Collection for New Visions Toronto raised $1762.00. Many thanks go to all those who contributed!
Photos: #1 - Alive Inside Poster #2 - Sabrina McCurbin speaking to enaged group of members #3 - Wendy Dines with examples of "Comfort Quilts"
Alive Inside Update: Alzheimer Society Toronto is looking for new or gently used iPod Shuffles to help connect 10,000 people with the ‘soundtrack of their lives’. The iPod Project was created from the inspiration from the documentary ‘Alive Inside’. In this, we were able to see, for people with dementia, music bring memories back to life.
The iPod Project provides the equipment and support to set-up personalized music for someone living with dementia.
Fashion Follows Form Exhibit at the ROM
Open June 21, 2014 to January 25, 2015
Patricia Harris Gallery of Textiles & Costume, Level 4
Fashion Follows Form: Designs for Sitting
On Sunday Oct. 26, we visited this eclectic and innovative display at the Royal Ontario Museum. We saw samples of ornate historical garments designed with bustles and clothing designed to allow women to ride a horse side saddle. We saw the technical genius of Izzy Camilleri whose Hollywood designs were exquisitely cut – including a replica of the coat worn by Meryl Streep in ‘A Devil Wears Prada’. There were examples of beautifully-made clothing that invisibly closed with magnets rather than buttons. And there were samples of fashionable and functional clothing made specifically for men and women who use wheelchairs. Supported by videos that showed how designers do what they do – the exhibit made us look at issues of body image and consider “Because who is perfect?”
Disabled mannequins will be eliciting astonished looks from passers-by on Zurich's Bahnhofstrasse today. Between the perfect mannequins, there will be figures with scoliosis or brittle bone disease modelling the latest fashions. One will have shortened limbs; the other a malformed spine. The campaign has been devised for the International Day of Persons with Disabilities by Pro Infirmis, an organisation for the disabled. Entitled "Because who is perfect? Get closer.", it is designed to provoke reflection on the acceptance of people with disabilities. Director Alain Gsponer has captured the campaign as a short film.
For more information on Izzy Camilleri go to: http://www.izadaptive.com
Friends of New Visions Toronto Golf Team
Written by Matt Virro and Paul Scott
The day was super. Our UU contingent was well represented with Paul Scott, Jared Diehl and Matt Virro. Ron Murphy who joined in to make the foursome shared his stories of coaching the U of T football team and winning the inaugural 1965 Vanier Cup and Grey Cup in the 1950’s. It inspired us to score a joint 63 on the course and for Jared to score an eagle on a par 4. The winning foursome shot59. No prizes for us this year but who knows for next? We supported a great charitable cause with New Visions Toronto and shared in a wonderful dinner with 100 parents, allied health professionals and UU’s Diane Strong and Barb Wentworth. Wendy Dines, also a member of First, donated a glass sculpture paperweight to the silent auction held during the dinner. We are hoping that next year our First Unitarian golfing group could grow in size and have fun at this worthwhile event. This year’s proceeds went to buying lifts in the group homes that support about 60 residents at various special needs homes in the city. For more info, go to New Visions Website
All About Mark
On Sunday March 2nd, the initial gathering to learn more about Mark and a possible Social Action Project was held. It was an invitation to learn more about Mark’s journey through his life. Mark has been an enthusiastic singer at First services over many years. Barb Wentworth, Mark’s mom wanted to encourage more people to come over and chat with him at coffee hour. This was an opportunity, along with the Our Story video filmed by Ainsley Kendrick, to find easy ways to approach and engage with Mark. It was also an opportunity to talk about New Visions Toronto where Mark and 56 others live in supported apartments and homes in the downtown area. Andy Rotsma, the ED at New Visions Toronto and Lyndel Hill OT, were on hand to talk about challenges facing people with disabilities. Out of this discussion, twelve people signed on to endorse Friends of New Visions Toronto as a Social Action Project for 2014-15.
Canadian Tire $$ drive
On March 16th , 23rd , 30th, 2014, Richard Kirsh organized a drive to collect Canadian Tire money to support a much-needed Wheelchair Accessible van for New Visions Toronto. Of course, you can’t buy a van with Canadian Tire money! However, CT$$ will buy new items that can then be auctioned off, with that money going towards the purchase of a wheelchair accessible van. PLEASE, continue to bring it in, if you are willing to donate. As of October 2014, we have collected $338.85! That’s a lot of 5 and 10 cent CT bills!! Thank you.
Birthday Cake for Mark
On Sunday March 16, 2014, Lynn Atkin-Phillips and helpers brought in a cake, candles and birthday napkins to help celebrate Mark’s birthday (March 18). Mark just glowed with happiness when everyone sang him Happy Birthday. His card is still hanging up in his room. Mark says thank you (and be careful!)
Run for Rett
Mark was sponsored in this annual fundraiser in support of research on Rett Syndrome. Research dollars are needed to find a cure. Symptoms of Rett syndrome have been reversed in the lab - animals that couldn’t vocalize, explore, nest, or socialize were able to regain all of those abilities. So it is possible that research will find a way to reverse symptoms in people. Can you imagine that for Mark? Research dollars are desperately needed.