Learning how to help each other
By Tracy-Jo Russell & Gwen Miller-Watt, CLBC Facilitator, Kamloops
The 2011 Interior Self-Advocates Conference ”Helping Yourself and Others in the Community” was held in Kamloops on October 26 and 27. The conference, which took place at the Kamloops Conference Centre, was attended by 60 self-advocates and support staff. Attendees came from all over the Interior, some as far as eight hours away. The goal of the conference was to educate each other about rights, relationships and ways of helping others.
The conference was hosted by Tony Cuglietta and Darryl Harand, who is a CLBC Board Member. The Mayor of Kamloops, Peter Milobar, began by welcoming everyone to the city of Kamloops. Cory Johnson was the key note speaker. He talked about his challenges in life and how he has a busy life as a son, a father and a husband, an athlete, a motivational speaker, an author and even a stand up comedian. He made us laugh and cry and motivated us to set some goals for ourselves.
Cory also talked about his connection with the Aktion Club through Kiwanis. It is a club that offers people a chance to volunteer to help in the community. He introduced Lee, a member of Kiwanis and she spoke about the group. Many self-advocates were people interested in starting an Aktion Club in their area.
After a terrific meal, “Feet First”, a rock and roll band from Vernon, played music while people danced. Many wore Halloween costumes for the dance and some even got to sing on stage with the band. Throughout the evening there were draws for door prizes. Money was raised by selling tickets for door prizes and the proceeds were donated to the BC Children’s Hospital. This was our way of helping others in our community.
During the dance, a number of self-advocates joined Sylvie Zebroff, CLBC’s Family Partnership Advisor, to take part in “Power of their Story” by telling their stories on camera.
On the second day we had four workshops. The first workshop was presented by Ryan Groth and Chantelle Hyde and was called “No Barriers”. It was about the barriers people face every day and talking about solutions.
Shelley Decoste and Sylvie Zebroff talked about leadership in a workshop called “It’s my Right”. Shelley also talked about her dream to have “diversability” be part of our vocabulary.
Tricia Lins and Sky Hendsbee spoke about relationships of all kinds, and talked about how to make relationships work.
Karla Warren, Colleen Mossiman, Jonathon Righton, Raymond Edinger, Sheila Niediq, Janet Gowanlock, Lynetta Beingnesser and Krista Petrich used video, musical and interactive experience to talk about volunteering and helping others and ourselves.
In all of the workshops there were fun activities and many questions from the audience. It was a great way to learn something new. The best part of the conference was the opportunity to get together, share ideas, meet new people and see old friends again.
The conference was great and we couldn’t have done it without the support of the Thompson Cariboo Community Council and local businesses.
This story was submitted by Tracy-Jo Russell and Gwen Miller-Watt on behalf of the Conference Organizing Committee: Darryl Harand, Gerry London, Liz Huiskin, Ted Dekker, Marcella Harrington, Mandy Bremner, Diane Bob, Linda Evans, Colleen Mossiman, Karla Warren, Darcy Riise and Tony Cuglietta.