Lead researchers Rebecca Caines and Michelle Stewart recently completed a successful outreach trip to Yukon and British Columbia, taking the Improv Toolkit on the road for feedback, and making new connections for the project’s next stages.
Whitehorse, Yukon has been selected to be the Canada site for the international improvisation project exploring strengths and creativity for people with disabilities.
Researchers visited Whitehorse in July and worked with FASSY (Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Society of Yukon) who is a partner on the project. The researchers demonstrated workshops to a range of agencies and families. The workshops, based on the Community Improv Toolkit, use theatre, music, visual arts, improvised games and creative technologies including iPad apps to help people communicate, share their stories, make art and share their experiences.
The team met with ten organizations, and over a hundred individuals, and completed six workshops at a range of locations. FASSY will be helping to coordinate the Yukon site as it builds on FASSY’s long history in the community and furthers programs that are evidence and strength-based. “As an applied researcher, I can see the ways in which improvisation can help to better understand FASD and the social isolation that can surround this particular disability,” said Stewart, “concurrently, the workshops become a supportive space in which creativity is explored and nurtured to best support people in our communities.”
Partners all over Canada will be using the improv toolkit during International FASD Awareness week (starting September 9). Following the Whitehorse trip, Caines and Stewart visited the Kermode Friendship Centre in Terrace, University of Calgary, the Assante Centre, University of British Columbia and CHEOS (Centre for Health Evaluation Outcomes and Sciences) to get feedback before the kit launches in September. “We are excited to use the tool on September 9 and explore different applications in our work,” said Allison Pooley of the Asante Centre. “The strengths-based approach of the tool aligns well with the Centre’s commitment to helping individuals with invisible disabilities reach their full potential.”
In the coming year, the Canadian sites will be linked with projects in Northern Ireland and Australia. For Caines, “it has been incredible on this trip, seeing how much fun people have in these workshops, and connecting with such great partners who can really see the potential results from using improvisation in their work to increase creative and social capacity.”