Saturday April 19, 2014

Abilities Council seeks a few good friends


Mentor Jamie Pfiefer, left, enjoys a coffee outing at Parkland Mall with Mary Ann Yachyshyn.

The Saskatchewan Abilities Council (SAC) hopes yesterday’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities will help promote the council’s new mentoring program.

Mutual Mentors kicked off in the spring with the goal of bringing together SAC clients with volunteers in the community to give adults of varying abilities the opportunity to develop meaningful relationships, increase their confidence and develop new skills with which to participate independently in the community.

The program fit in perfectly with this year’s theme for International Day of Persons with Disabilities, which was “Break Barriers, Open Doors.”

“It’s just another way the Saskatchewan Abilities Council is going to get participants in the council out into the community and taking part in the regular day-to-day things that we may take for granted that we do with our friends,” said Deana Jesmer, SAC community relations coordinator.

Before Mutual Mentors, Mary Ann Yachyshyn didn’t get out much. Since being matched with Jamie Pfeifer, though, Mary Ann has outings at least once every two weeks doing things she may not have had the opportunity to do before such as swimming and bowling.

“I like going out for supper,” Mary Ann enthused during a coffee outing with Jamie last week. Her favourite is Chinese food, she added.

Jamie, who used to work for the council, said she wanted to stay connected. She helped coordinate the new program, designed its brochure and became its very first mentor.

“It’s a really good volunteer experience for anybody who’s looking for something different,” she said.

Mutual Mentors is available to any individual who is enrolled in the SAC day program.

Volunteers can be anyone over the age of 18, who passes the programs screening process, which includes an application form, three references, an interview, criminal record check, vulnerable sector check and a training session.

“We want to ensure that the people spending time with the participants here are positive role models and a safe person for them to be with, but as long as they go through the screening process then absolutely any volunteer from the community, we’d be happy to have them,” Jesmer said.

If the program sounds a bit like another prominent local mentoring program, there’s good reason for it.

“We worked with Big Brothers, Big Sisters on this program,” Jesmer explained. “They started a mentoring program for children with disabilities and we started a mentoring program for adults with disabilities. We blended resources with them being the experts in mentoring and us being the experts in working with individuals with varying abilities or disabilities. It was a really great partnership and a great way to exchange resources and support.”

Anyone who wants to get involved can contact the Abilities Council at 306.782.2463.



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