The Region of Queens Municipality has designed a series of workshops for those who have a disability or life challenge that may be holding them back from trying something.
Elise Johnston, RQM’s accessibility coordinator, has organized a number of fun, barrier-free hobby development workshops specifically targeting those with physical or mental challenges.
Johnston was hired by RQM last year to make the region a more welcoming and accessible place.
She received a Wellness Grant from the Queens Community Health Board earlier this year and had set the workshops to run in May but had to reschedule because of the pandemic restrictions.
“Their angle was mental health, especially post COVID-19, and my mandate being people with disabilities. I think they were especially marginalized and isolated during this time,” said Johnston.
“Day programs at the Manor and Penny Lane had to be shut down and those that normally were getting out, were not.” She commented that people with disabilities “too often” hit barriers and that many may have stopped bothering to go to places such as the gym or to various activities.
Johnston came up with the idea of hobby development workshops to introduce people to interests or pastimes that they can do at home or in the community.
“Maybe you don’t have the dexterity in your hands and don’t want to try painting, or, if you are in a wheelchair, are you going to go to the drama club or are you going to dance movement if you can’t hear or can’t see? My answer would be, why not? You can enjoy the activity but maybe in a slightly adapted way,” she said.
Offered at no charge, the workshops are intended to give participants a chance to try something new in a supportive environment.
The series will begin September 7 with a gardening workshop at the West Queens Recreation Centre.
This will be followed up with workshops on September 9 – Clay sculpture at Mersey Point Community Hall; September 10 – Painting at the Milton Community Hall; September 14 – Drama at the Hank Snow Museum Park; September 16 – Move with Music at Queens Place Emera Centre; and September 21 – Decorating at Queens Place Emera Centre.
Johnston has budgeted money for Queens County transit, so anyone wishing to can use the service for free.
Those wanting to attend are asked to pre-register at least a week ahead. Registration can be done by contacting Johnston at the RQM administration office.
Kevin McBain, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, LighthouseNOW Progress Bulletin