Well, That’s The Kind of Life It’s Been — Lloyd Robertson at the Ottawa Writers Festival

October 30, 2012 11:20 am
Lloyd - Featured image

On October 26, Knox Presbyterian was filled with people excited to once again hear the familiar voice of former CTV News chief anchor Lloyd Robertson. Robertson appeared to do a talk about his impressive career as the longest-serving news anchor in Canadian and international history. Over his 59-year career in broadcasting, Robertson has covered Expo 67, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the death of Princess Dianna, Terry Fox’s Marathon of Hope, the September 11th World Trade Centre attacks and the War in Afghanistan, as well as numerous elections, referendums and Olympic events. Robertson has also won the Order of Canada and was the first journalist to be inducted into Canada’s Walk of Fame.

In spite of his impressive accolades, Robertson focused his talk on his own personal journey. He joked about being in a church as a “slightly lapsed Presbyterian.” Robertson then read an excerpt from his new book, The Kind of Life It’s Been (HarperCollins Canada), which is about the trials of growing up with a mother who suffered from an undiagnosed mental illness and a father who had severe stomach disorders. Robertson shared personal anecdotes about his “dreary home life” and the images of hospitals “forever etched in [his] mind.”

Despite the morose aspects of his upbringing, Robertson explained that his early life experiences gave him a deep compassion for the sick and unhealthy, and a “lifelong commitment to help those with mental illnesses.” On stage, he recalled one of the most memorable things his father said to him about the mentally ill: “You’ve got to learn, boy, that these people deserve a life too.” Those words have stuck with Robertson to this day, influencing him throughout his lengthy career to approach all those he encounters with sympathy and compassion, regardless of their physical or mental predispositions. Robertson’s book is dedicated to his father, who taught him the importance of wisdom and compassion.

Early on in his life, Robertson felt a pull towards broadcasting. “News was always an interest of mine,” he told the audience. “As a child, I knew the names of all the local radio personalities.” In school, Robertson asked his teachers if he could read the public announcements every day, and later became the narrator for a number of school plays to work on his voice projection. He started his broadcasting career working for his local Stratford radio station, CJCS, but quickly moved up to CJOY in Guelph. He started working for the CBC in Windsor, but was eager to move to Toronto, which was “the apex of quality in [the] industry at the time. One you’d got there, you’d made it.”

Robertson worked as an announcer for CBC in Toronto until he began encountering difficulties with the corporation. Not being allowed to edit his articles, Robertson became frustrated because he “could report, but couldn’t write.” Eventually, he was offered a new position at CTV, but was still conflicted over leaving, due to his loyalty to CBC and its broadcasting mission. However, CTV gave him his first opportunity to go out in the field to write and broadcast his own reports, and Robertson stuck with CTV for 35 years.

Robertson talked about the challenges of maintaining a “public personality” while on the air, which sometimes conflicted with his true feelings on a subject. Robertson talked about the difficulty of reporting on 9/11, which was one of the most memorable days of his career. Robertson recalled being woken up early in the morning by a call from his boss, saying “Get your pants on, Robertson, turn on the TV and see what’s going on.” He rushed to work and got on the air to report on the attack, trying to channel what Peter Jennings described to him as “an absence of emotion” in order to keep composed. “There are some moments when you have to remain composed,” Robertson said, “but you instinctively know when you reach your audience emotionally.” Robertson remained emotionally stoic in public until three days later, when he attended the memorial service on Parliament Hill. Robertson described the absolute silence of the crowd and how it caused him to weep for the first time since the attack.

After a lengthy career working in radio and television, Robertson retired in 2011. As he described it: “I wanted to get out while the voice was intact and the looks were relatively still intact.” Robertson described feeling simultaneously grateful and saddened on his last day at CTV. “There was a sense of emptiness during my last broadcast, but I certainly don’t miss being there at 11 o’clock every night.”

Reflecting on his career, Robertson concluded that there was very little he would change. He regrets never attending university, yet “working in news, in a lot of ways, was like getting a Liberal Arts Degree. I was never held back in my career because I continued to learn on the job.” He always felt at home in broadcasting, and turned down the offer of a Senate seat. “I had fought so hard to be this newsperson who spoke from outside all the political parties… I wanted to maintain the independent voice of the service.”

For Robertson, the independence that comes from journalism is essential. He briefly discussed the problems of the all-news channels in the US and how they confuse people by intermingling talk shows with news broadcasts. According to Robertson, politicians and pundits are given “the bias of their choice,” leading to polarization full of “rants, but no talking.” Despite this growing trend, Robertson maintains hope in the tradition of the professional news broadcast. “There will always be room for the professionals. People always need reliable sources to know what is really going on. People are smart enough to know that what they get [on all news channels and the internet] is just gossip.”

 Robertson’s memoir, The Kind of Life It’s Been, is now available in bookstores everywhere.

 

 

The Gospel of Nick Drake — Coming to a church near you

10:29 am
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British poet and singer-songwriter Nick Drake was not the kind of musician, admittedly, that I’d had much exposure to, or even had much knowledge of, when my appetite for music first kicked in. My exposure to Drake had always consisted primarily of other songwriters’ mentions of him: people like Elvis Costello, Billy Bragg, Paul Weller and Kate Bush, artists who spoke of their love and admiration for Drake and his work in respectful, reverent tones. So years later, when my curiosity finally got the better of me, I borrowed some Nick Drake records from a friend.

After a few listens, I was a convert to the Church of Nick Drake. Listening to Northern Sky, Day is Done or any of his other songs in my room that day, I was struck by how, well, gentle, the whole thing was, how reserved. Keep in mind, that at that point of my life, I was deeply into bands like Faith No More and Bad Brains, and I had grown up listening to Frank Sinatra, so bombastic and over-the-top were pretty much par for the course for me in terms of what I was familiar with musically.

Drake’s earnest, honest, laid-back approach was jarring and foreign to me, striking in how Drake could put across so much in an understated way. There was something about his unrelenting earnestness and vulnerability that struck a chord with me. What I heard that day wasn’t anything like I’d ever heard before. There was definitely a strength and courage in his music, but all couched in a gentleness and openness that wasn’t the musical norm for me at that time. Drake has been referred to as a “musician’s musician.” The kind of songwriter who for one reason or another flies just under the radar of mainstream recognition and success. The kind of songwriter people inevitably discover, but slowly and in their own time, and that same discovery becomes richer and more worthwhile because of it.

In spite of the lack of any outright commercial success, Drake’s music is still just as relevant and vital as ever, as his style and approach have influenced countless singer-songwriters through the years. I dare you to try name a band where the singer hasn’t co-opted and borrowed from Drake’s subdued, reserved yet urgently immediate writing approach. Everyone from Patrick Watson to Radiohead to Elliot Smith to Jeff Buckley have Drake to thank in some way for his contribution. The Dream Academy song, “Life in a Northern Town,” for example, is actually a tribute to Drake. The Nick Drake song that most people seem to claim a familiarity with is “Pink Moon,” a beautifully evocative song, used a few years back as a musical backdrop for a VW Golf ad campaign. But Drake’s catalogue has also been used in movies and ad campaigns many times since. His music and lyrics are observational, thoughtful, literary, expansive, welcoming – and they tug at your heart. His material lingers in your brain and spirit. It connects and grounds you, and that’s why new generations of music fans are continually rediscovering his work.

Coming to the First Baptist Church Ottawa on Friday November 9, The Songs of Nick Drake Tour is designed to celebrate Drake’s life and songs. The brainchild of British-born musician Luke Jackson, the show was first produced at Toronto’s Trinity St. Paul United Church in November 2010, paying tribute to Drake and his extremely accomplished and talented composer, arranger and friend, Robert Kirby. Kirby’s tasteful and moving string arrangements became a big part of Drake’s songs live, and truly added an extra dimension of depth, warmth and lushness to the feel of the material. Sadly, Kirby unexpectedly died a week before the show was announced, and while his loss is tremendous, it also served to further inspire Jackson to honor Drake and Kirby. The show that night was recorded and broadcast by the CBC, and was an unqualified and resounding success.

Check out some of it here.

The musicians joining Jackson on tour reads like a veritable who’s who of Canadian music: Toronto alt-country darling Oh Susanna,the wonderful Kurt Swinghammer, Kevin Kane of The Grapes of Wrath, drummer Don Kerr (Rheostatics, Ron Sexsmith) and double-bassist Jason Mercer (Bourbon Tabernacle Choir, Ani DiFranco).

Swinghammer, a Canadian musical legend and artist in his own right, says that his attraction and appreciation for Nick Drake started via Toronto’s legendary CHUM-FM radio station: “They used to play him a lot in those days, and I was transfixed by his voice and his music. It was this hybrid of jazz, folk, sometimes even bordering on easy-listening. At that time, it was the norm for male singers to be more aggressive, and he was a really refreshing backlash to that kind of rock-and-roll thing that had taken over blues-based singing. He was coming to it from a very gentle place, and I think that has influenced a lot of contemporary singers. (His style) was an original blend of things, and that’s the kind of artist I’m drawn to. He was a real singular kind of voice at the time. He was a very striking presence, and it’s a pleasure to get to perform the material live.” To coincide with the tour, Swinghammer is releasing Two Portraits: a limited-edition 12″ single of his version of Nick Drake’s “River Man” backed by a version of Donovan’s “Sunny Goodge Street.” The sleeve will feature Swinghammer’s portraits of both singer/songwriters.

The tour has been intentionally organized and booked to play unique venues, in churches for example, eschewing the traditional “soft-seat” theatre route. Jackson explains: “The show at St. Paul’s had such a good vibe, and there are certain benefits to playing in those types of venues. There’s a beautiful built-in ambiance. Nick’s music sounds great in a church, and we were able to sidestep all the politics and goings-on that usually take place when dealing with theatre venues. It was really refreshing to be able to do that. This is something that I’m taking very seriously. It’s something I would like to take out and tour every year. But it’s a matter of making this tour a success. I’ve been working on it pretty much non-stop for a year, giving my all and pulling out all the stops to prove it can be done. I want to know that I haven’t cut any corners in trying to make sure that this tour is a success.”

Another unique aspect of this tour is that Jackson has invited local musicians from each city they will be playing in to join the band on stage. The lovely and hyper-talented Jim Bryson, Marie-Jo Thério and Marc Robert Nelson will be joining The Songs of Nick Drake Tour in Ottawa.

That was something that made a lot of sense from a production point of view,” Jackson said. “Inviting musicians who are fellow Nick Drake fans from those cities keeps the show fresh and different every night. We’ll never have the same show twice. For the ten of us on the tour who are playing each night, we get into a groove with our own thing. But then some real magic will happen when we have the guests and throw them into the mix. We’re all coming at it with a good degree of musicianship but with very little in the way of rehearsal, and I think that’s a good recipe for something more organic. I wanted to do something that honored Nick’s musical legacy and took everything in a slightly different direction as well.”

And this approach guarantees that the shows will evolve and change from venue to venue, delivering a new and unique musical experience at every performance.

The Songs of Nick Drake Tour will take place at the First Baptist Church Ottawa on Friday, November 9. Tickets are $35 in advance, $40 at the door. Available at Vertigo Records, Legends, Ottawa Folklore Centre, Compact Music Inc. or online at ticketbreak.com

Keep up with the tour on facebook

 

Power Shift Returns to Ottawa

October 25, 2012 10:16 am
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Power Shift represents a series of annual youth summits on an international level.The first Power Shift was held in 2007 in Washington, D.C., where over 20,000 young Americans gathered together outside their nation’s capital to promote environmentalism and lobby for government action to combat global climate change.

Since then, the movement has spread across the world, with annual public rallies and educational seminars being held in the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Ottawa. The first Canadian Power Shift gathering was held on Parliament Hill in October of 2009, when over 1,000 young adults from across the country came together for two days of strategy training and a day of mass lobbying, caling the Harper government to be take responsibility for helping solve the climate crisis. It was the largest youth gathering for the environment in Canadian history.

Power Shift is returning to Ottawa again this year. On October 26th to the 29th, hundreds of Canadian youth will be coming to Ottawa to continue to promote the cause. This year, Power Shift Canada has extended its focus to include promoting environmental justice and the creation of a sustainable future — environmentally and economically.

 

Young people from across the country converging on Parliament Hill to promote their cause

Power Shift supporters are expressing concerns about the current economic crisis and its relation to the future of today’s youth. Issues such as the dismantling of social security and the continued distribution of tax breaks for large corporations have been listed as real threats to the sustainability of Canada’s economic future. Advocates of this year’s gathering are also citing Canada’s abandonment of Kyoto Protocol, the elimination of multiple energy efficient programs, and the subsidization of the fossil fuel industry as warning signs of a continued environmental crisis.

According to Power Shift’s Canadian promoters, the current economic and environmental crises have the same roots. This year’s rally will be targeting the actions of both government and big business for putting short-term economic profits over long-term concerns for the environment and refusing to promote a more green and sustainable future. Many of the youth at Power Shift will be promoting clean energy economy, increasing global equity, and creating green jobs which they believe will help stimulate the economy and overcome the biggest challenge of the 21st century.

The gathering is not just open to youth, though. Adults and special-interest groups concerned about environmental justice are welcome to give their support to the cause.

The event will include workshop sessions on skill development in media and communication, activism, campaigning, and education. There will also be panel discussions on fossil-fuel dependency, renewable energy, public transportation, the importance of local-grown food, and the role of front-line and indigenous communities. Power Shift 2012 will end with Action and Advocacy Day on the 29th, in which all the participants will use the skills and knowledge they’ve learned over the weekend to contribute to a mass action event in the centre of Ottawa.

For more information about the event and how to get involved, visit wearepowershift.ca

 

Community Mediation Ottawa – Solving Disputes!!

October 22, 2012 3:21 pm
Coordinator/Coordinatrice, Meredith St. Denis, gives a speech about the services provided by Community Mediation Ottawa. Photo Courtesy of Alessandra Gerebizza

Have you or someone you know had trouble with neighbours, parking, dogs, landlords, tenants, or within a volunteer organisation? Too often, disputes are dealt with by arguing, increased frustration, calling the police or Bylaw Services, or even a lawyer. These approaches can be costly, emotionally draining, and time-consuming. While these are important options, they often ignore the underlying issues and leave parties unsatisfied. Although it may be hard to afford or justify hiring professional services, the situation is unsustainable. These are only some of the cases well suited to community mediation.

 

Community Mediation Ottawa officially launched its service on Thursday October 18th 2012, Conflict Resolution Day. They provide free intervention services such as mediation or facilitation to residents of the Ottawa community who find themselves in conflict and are unable to afford or justify paying for intervention services. The types of issues their volunteer mediators would mediate are neighbourhood disputes involving neighbours, families, friends, roommates, landlord-tenant issues or interpersonal disputes. Community mediation can lead to effective, sustainable resolutions and help participants build capacity to take positive approaches in future conflicts. Since mediated solutions are generated by the parties, they can be more satisfying and longer lasting than solutions decided or imposed by an outsider.

 

To learn more about Community Mediation Ottawa please visit their website at www.cmo-mco.ca or email communitymediation@cicr-icrc.ca

Photo Courtesy of Alessandra Gerebizza

(From left to right) Catherine, Director of Marketing , CICR & Pat, Member of CMO’s Steering Committee

 

Photo Courtesy of Alessandra Gerebizza

Band Salton Sea performes

 

Photo Courtesy of Alessandra Gerebizza

(From Left to right) Robert, Pamela, Pat, (CMO Steering Committee member) Meredith, Coordinator of CMO & Steering Committee Member) Catherine, Director of Marketing CICR Brian, Executive Director of CICR & CMO Steering Committee Member

 

Photo Courtesy of Alessandra Gerebizza

(From Left to right) Claudia & Margaret - Volunteers with CMO

Ottawa Artist Crystal Beshara Excels in Detailed Realism

October 18, 2012 10:28 am
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MEET THE ARTIST at the opening January 10th, 7-10pm.
Fine Artist & Illustrator Crystal Beshara learns to embrace her multiple artistic personalities in her newest solo exhibition FIGHT or FLIGHT at Orange Art Gallery, January 2013.

It’s no wonder Crystal Beshara is feeling a little fearless. In 2011, she was honoured with a second grant from the renowned Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation which supports young artists working exclusively in realism. The prestigious award was given in recognition of a stripped-down, incredibly personal series of highly realistic self-portraits featured in her new solo exhibition FIGHT or FLIGHT.

Beshara’s self-portraits – the first of her career – are but one aspect of this artist’s paradoxical body of work. A visit to her crowded Ottawa studio would yield not only a glimpse of different mediums: oil, watercolour, pen & ink, pastel & pencil, but their accomplished use in works varying in style and subject from earthy, textural rural Ontario landscapes and detailed English pastorals, to hot, saturated Southwestern scenes, all now complimented by her new, contemporary portraits. While such variety demonstrates diverse skills, one thing remains Crystal clear – a true artist’s love of realism, rendered with passion and perseverance.

“Realism, for me, is a way to get closer to my subject,” Beshara says. “By working in great detail, I have an opportunity to revisit a subject that I love, or a time or place I long for and ultimately want to share with the viewer. The more detail, the more realistic, the longer I remain in that moment during the painting process.”

Beshara knew she would be an artist from the age of five and sold her first commissioned painting at the age of 13. At 17, she tearfully abandoned her homestead to pursue her Bachelor of Fine Arts in the very contemporary Studio program at the University of Ottawa. With her roots deeply established in realism, Beshara did not bend when it was heavily challenged and declared dead as a genre. She was not dissuaded when told by her professors that watercolour was a “Sunday Painters’ Medium” and not to be taken seriously. Upon graduation, her unique, self-taught technique earned her an elected fellowship as the youngest member of The Ottawa Watercolour Society at the age of 23. In 2007, she was elected to the International Guild of Realism. Since then, she has received a diploma from the Society of Botanical Artists (UK) and been a popular guest speaker for young and experienced artists at galleries, schools and conventions. Beshara has created her own line of watercolour paintbrushes and is working on her first instructional video. She opened her home-based studio and art school in 2008 and continues to run a series of very successful painting workshops in various destinations including France, England, Mexico and Santa Fe, New Mexico. Beshara has had four children’s books published and recently found herself doing artwork props for several characters for a new Canadian television drama hitting the airwaves in 2013.

Beshara has found that her multiple personalities have served her well. It is in fact an appeal to her own complex needs as an artist. She spent years struggling with the idea that streamlining her skills would be more beneficial but, as it turns out, it was only when she finally submitted to these differences that she discovered she got back so much more. What viewers get in return are honest, passionate, immediate depictions of what is at the forefront of her imagination when they are created, whether it’s a children’s book or a piece of fine art. At a studio sale in 2010, she sold 34 pieces in less than 4 hours – all ranging in size, medium and theme. Her almost sell-out show at Orange Gallery was a much welcomed affirmation that there is indeed a niche for her very rural subject matter.

Beshara works exclusively from her own photos taken of her home base (the Ottawa area) and from
her various trips abroad. Her highly narrative work begins with carefully selected images which are then edited, sketched and re-composed to reveal the essence of the subject or story.

“It’s not about trying to fool the viewer or creating a piece that looks photographic,” she explains. “If I wanted a photo, I would be a photographer! I’m inviting viewers to connect to a memory, an object, a face, a gesture… I want people to recognize themselves, to reminisce and even look in wonder at a world that perhaps they don’t know yet. I decide where I want texture, how I want to light my subject and carefully construct composition to create mood. I have found over recent years that my ‘inner illustrator’ is beginning to play a more significant role in the storytelling aspect of my fine art as well. I enjoy allowing space and the construction of space to give the mind a place to wander. Although still realistic, the details are becoming less important to me and the dialogue between the elements – i.e.: figure to falcon, human to tree, tree to bird and response from the viewer – becomes more important.”

At times, Beshara’s journey has led her the long way and the hard way. But she has found strength in
listening to her inner voice and in doing so has found that sometimes it is in fact the sum of parts that is greater than the whole. Fight or Flight highlights her personal, professional and artistic journey over the last few years and showcases portraits in watercolour, pencil and oil.

CONTACT: Crystal Beshara, 613-224-8638; info@crystalbeshara.com; www.crystalbeshara.com

9th Hour Theatre Company presents Agnes of God November 1-10 at the Irving Greenberg Theatre Centre

October 17, 2012 1:06 pm
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9th Hour is proud to share with audiences its fourth and final production of the 2012 season, Agnes of God, in the studio theatre at the Irving Greenberg Theatre Centre, playing for a 12-performance run November 1-10.

In this drama by John Pielmeier, a court psychiatrist, Doctor Martha Livingstone, is charged with assessing the sanity of a young novitiate, Sister Agnes, accused of murdering her newborn. The Mother Superior, Miriam Ruth, determinedly keeps young Agnes from the doctor, arousing her suspicions further. Who killed the infant and who fathered the tiny victim? The questions force all three women to re-examine the meaning of faith and the power of love leading to a dramatic, compelling climax.

This powerhouse play of mystery and investigation, acted by just three women, is sure to poke and provoke audiences as to the sincerity of faith, and the need for miracles in a day and age of science and reason. Who is Agnes, or more crucially, who do we need her to be?

Tickets for Agnes of God are now on sale and can be purchased online at www.9th-hour.ca, in person at the Great Canadian Theatre Company box office (1233 Wellington Street West), or by calling the GCTC box office at 613-236-5196.

Outdoor Work Experience: The West End’s Most Unique Summer Day Camp

October 11, 2012 10:52 am
Kathleen Rooney, Founder of Outdoor Work Experience Summer Day Camp

A rising percentage of young Canadians are being diagnosed with developmental disorders ranging from Autism and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) to Tourette’s syndrome and Down’s syndrome.

One would expect to see a concomitant increase in the number of public and private programs designed to treat Canadians with developmental disorders at all stages of their lives. However, this is not the case. While there is a relative abundance of treatment programs that target young children with developmental disorders, once that child matures and moves into adolescence and young adulthood, the number of treatment programs is much more limited.

Kathleen Rooney, an Ottawa-area private practitioner with nearly 20 years’ experience in treating various developmental disorders in children of all ages, sheds some light on why there is a dearth of treatment programs in this area. She explains that the shortage can be attributed to two interrelated causes: the first being a lack of knowledge and the second a lack of funds. In the not-so-distant past, many researchers and specialists in the neurodevelopmental profession were unaware of the extent to which neurological development continues to occur throughout puberty and adolescence. They were therefore unaware of the extreme importance of providing treatment during the timeframe between the onset of puberty and the end of adolescence. As Rooney explains: “By the time many of those with developmental disorders reach their teenage years, their parents are often financially tapped out, having already spent tens of thousands of dollars on treatment for their children over the years.”

Rooney has taken matters into her own hands by trying to jump-start a reversal of this trend. This fall marks the successful completion of the third season of the Outdoor Work Experience Summer Day Camp which she founded in 2010. Outdoor Work Experience is a unique summer camp located in Nepean that was designed with therapeutic and neurodevelopmental treatment in mind. Rooney illuminates the reasoning for its inception by stating that it was designed to “help teens and young adults with special needs learn outdoor work skills that nurture such critical life skills as independence, responsibility and altruism.” The outdoor skills that are taught to the two dozen or so campers at Outdoor Work Experience include painting, raking, tree pruning and planting. Campers are placed in teams where they must work in unison to complete a task, thereby learning not just the practical skills associated with the task but also the proper behaviour associated with a given work environment — not to mention the important communications and interpersonal skills that are transferable to any type of work or social setting.
The idea for Outdoor Work Experience grew out of comments made a few years ago by students at Rooney’s One World Institute of Neurodevelopment Inc. which is her earlier (and still active) private practice for pre-teen children with special needs. In that practice, Rooney works one-on-one to increase the students’ fine and gross motor skills as well as their cognitive, social and sensory processing and communication skills. Some of her students at the One World Institute of Neurodevelopment Inc. “stressed the fact that they wanted to be part of, and active within, their own community but, in many circumstances, their community hasn’t let them have pure access in the way that those without developmental disorders often have.” With this in mind, Rooney set out to develop a program that would simultaneously teach a set of skills — and the transferable behavioural conduct associated with these skills required for any type of work — that would allow children with developmental disorders to become more active within their community and to reduce the stigmatization that often remains associated with developmental disorders.

Recent research has indicated that physically stimulating, strenuous work promotes the same kind of sensory integration development that can be acquired through music therapy — a type of therapy that is used at Rooney’s One World Institute of Neurodevelopment Inc. — as well as other forms of treatment. Rooney therefore concluded that a summer day camp teaching practical real-life work skills would allow her to develop a form of treatment for improving sensory integration in those with developmental disorders in a “more practical and adult-oriented setting or fashion” than is often the case in the few existing therapy and treatment programs designed for adolescents or young adults. To reduce the stigmatization associated with developmental disorders, Rooney designed Outdoor Work Experience to include a mix of adolescents and young adults with and without developmental disorders. On this matter, Rooney noted that “to reduce the stigmatization, I wanted to bring in typical children and young adults to my camp as well and to teach them how to interact with those who have developmental disorders.”

Furthermore, while Outdoor Work Experience primarily treats campers with Autism and Down’s syndrome, it operates in a completely integrated manner in the hope of further reducing the stigmatization that continues to be associated with developmental disorders. Rooney points out that it is completely integrated in the sense that “at Outdoor Work Experience, we do not distinguish between (and identify) the students who have and the students who do not have developmental disorders.” Closely associated with the stigmatization of the disorders and the individuals who have them is what can be classified as ‘the perception of greater risk’ associated with running a summer camp attended by teenagers and young adults with developmental disorders. Rooney expands upon this “perception of greater risk” by explaining that “it is harder to get the insurance required to run a camp like Outdoor Work Experience since insurers tend to assume that if you have children with Autism or Down’s syndrome, they are more likely to wander off and become lost or to get into an accident and hurt themselves.” Yet she states that “in the three years that Outdoor Work Experience has been open for business, we have only used three Band-Aids.”

The conclusion of another successful season at the innovative summer camp was celebrated at a recent event attended by Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson, Nepean-Carleton Member of Parliament Pierre Poilievre and Rideau-Goulbourn councillor Scott Moffatt.

And while Kathleen Rooney plans to expand her Outdoor Work Experience Summer Camp, she hopes she will be able to secure a corporate social responsibility sponsor large enough to allow her to hire more staff members to keep her unique summer camp running. As Rooney points out: “As a society, we tend to remain very risk-averse; however, we need to remember that risk can be tamed.”

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