DiscoverAbilities Events Society Board Chair and fourth year Mount Business student Meagan Soley noticed a gap and set out to fill it.
As a high school student, she (and most of the society’s board members) were involved with a high school leadership group that hosts a variety of conferences each year.
“We were all involved in the Inclusion Conference which is planned specifically to include and accommodate high school students of all abilities and needs,” explained Meagan.
“Through that conference, I met Cath who has remained one of my best friends for many years. Cath, who has Autism, loved the Inclusion Conference and having the opportunity to make new friends and learn new skills. She always looked forward to the event and missed it very much once she had finished high school.”
In 2014, Meagan (pictured at left) and a small group of other volunteers began DiscoverAbilitiesEvents Society to help fill that gap.
“As a post-secondary student, there were always opportunities for me to make new friends, join new groups and participate in skills development activities,” noted Megan. “I thought there should be something similar for persons with disabilities.”
Conference helping build community
The group focuses their efforts on showcasing the programs and resources that already exist in Nova Scotia and planning events that bring people together in both learning and social capacities. They held a pilot adult inclusion conference in 2014 at the Mount and have been going strong ever since.
The group’s latest event – the 2nd Annual Community Connections Conference – takes place on Saturday, May 7, 2016 at Mount Saint Vincent University.
The aim of the conference is to help adults with intellectual disabilities create the connections necessary to remain active and involved in their communities, through employment, recreation or social activities.
Diverse program for diverse participants
“We recognize that people have varied interests, so we bring in a wide variety of expert facilitators to run sessions on different topics,” said Meagan. “This year, session topics include money management, entrepreneurship, talking about your disability in a job interview, Zumba, African dance, drama, relationships and sex, healthy eating, safety in the workplace, golf, music therapy and more.”
The conference will also include a community market (featuring products made by entrepreneurs and artisans with disabilities), a variety show, dance and presentation by a motivational speaker.
Noted Meagan, “Our variety show and dance are hosted by DJ Ace, a young man with an intellectual disability who went through the RHYTHM Program at Reachability. That program teaches the basics of disc jockeying to persons with disabilities. DJ Ace met his mentor, DJ Medley, through the program and was able to job shadow him and now runs his own successful business throughout Halifax.”
Market vendors are still being accepted; the public is invited to visit the market from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. (it will be located just outside the Multi-purpose Room on the main floor of the Rosaria Student Centre – map). For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 902-452-6347.