While local retailers are already decking their early-September halls with Halloween costumes, a plethora of winter ware and advent calendars (!?!?), some of us here at CAES are not yet ready to accept the closing of our 2018 summer (me)!  So let’s talk summer for a while longer here…

This summer was an eventful one at CAES with some team meetings moving to sunnier locations, supporting many job seekers with seasonal outdoor positions and (the highlight) our CAES team trip to Halifax to attend the CASE conference.  Not only were 11 of us able to attend the conference in beautiful Halifax, but the keynote speaker this year was Theo Fleury! Pinch me! Theo gave a raw and inspirational speech about his history with trauma, how it has shaped his life and how he has utilized his own story to develop resources for others.  He encourages those who have experienced trauma to share their stories as well, in hopes of evoking change in the way people view trauma and how they cope with it;

“There’s a gift at the end of pain and suffering, and that’s why we go through it…and by putting a voice to your pain and suffering, you create a story, you create connection, and that creates change.” – Theo Fleury.

Others spoke about neuroplasticity and EMDR treatment (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) in relation to trauma, anxiety, grief, dissociative disorder and a number of other psychological disorders, both focusing on varying ways of reframing traumatic experiences. There was a definite focus in many of the sessions on trauma and better understanding the complications and supports that exist, there were also many innovative supportive employment models highlighted. Project SEARCH is a transition to work program that started in the Cincinnati Children’s Medical Hospital and focuses on training individuals with developmental disabilities for some of the high turnover positions throughout the hospital.  Reverse job fairs were elaborated upon where individuals that are interested in the same industry would sit at a table and employers would approach them.  A couple of other organizations shared their well-established partnerships with companies that provide job seekers with internship rotations, realistic evaluations, and even exit reviews at the end of their internship to give them a realistic employment experience.

So how did 11 supportive employment experts unwind after taking in all of that collective knowledge at the CASE conference, you ask? Well, we rented a van, found picture perfect beaches, explored public gardens, historic cemeteries and art galleries. We strapped on our fanny packs (ok, maybe just me), toured the city by bikes, the immigration museum, shopped for local artisan goods, danced to authentic East Coast bands, laughed until we couldn’t anymore, took pictures at many historic sites and ate some things.  Donairs were consumed, fish tacos were quality checked, Pizza Corner was dabbled in and a borderline unhealthy amount of seafood was consumed!  We returned to Calgary feeling inspired and motivated, more connected as a team than ever before and straight up jazzed to be a part of the Canadian inclusive employment force.

Ashton Bennett

Ashton Bennett

Since receiving my BA Degree in Psychology from Mount Royal University, I have worked with a number of different mental health organizations throughout the city. For the past 5 years, I have had the privilege of being a part of the Calgary Alternative Supportive Services team, first as part of the Day Options Program and now with the Employment Program. As Calgary has been my home for over 15 years, I am passionate about the city’s artistic talent, cultural richness, its eclectic individuals, and giving back to the community in any way I can.
Ashton Bennett