For the first time a youth with sight loss, Karis Oscienny, was able to participate in the Sage Hill – Teen Writing Experience because the organization recognized the importance of accessibility.
"Having writing experiences like this accessible, provides new opportunities for youth who are blind or partially sighted to participate more fully in life, which in turn gives them an advantage in their future," said Ashley Nemeth, the Program Lead for Community Engagement and Advocacy with CNIB.
Sage Hill's strategic plan not only includes a commitment to accessibility but a recognition that diversity grows the writing community.
"Writers come from many types of life experiences, and it is important to Sage Hill to welcome writers with different abilities, to support and give voice to diverse perspectives from youth throughout the province. By bringing together youth from a broad range of experiences, these young writers can bridge barriers and connect with one another over the common interest of writing," said Tara Solheim, the executive director.
The writing course led by spoken word poet Janelle “ecoaborijanelle” Pewapsconias took place from July 20-24 via Zoom. Karis joined five other youth from across the province and focused on writing exercises and editing. For Pewapsconias, working to make the course accessible also taught her about perspective.
"It has been my intention to always work toward inclusion, understanding, and accessibility. I did my best to craft exercises and workshops knowing one of the participants was blind. It was an interesting journey during the week as we practiced descriptive language in all our sessions. It was apparent to our group that our world needs to do a better job of ensuring accessibility for all." said Pewapsconias.
For Oscienny the experience provided an opportunity to grow as a writer, connect to the other youth and gain a new experience. "Getting to edit and polish my short story was great. I also really enjoyed our session on story structure. The reading at the end of the week was exciting too; I read my story and got to hear everyone else's pieces."
The CNIB Foundation Saskatchewan is a non-profit organization driven to change what it is to be blind today. We deliver innovative programs and powerful advocacy that empower Saskatchewan residents impacted by blindness to live their dreams while tearing down barriers to inclusion. Our work as a blind foundation is powered by a network of volunteers, donors and partners in communities across Saskatchewan. To learn more or get involved, visit cnib.ca/Saskatchewan.
About Sage Hill
An incorporated not-for-profit charitable organization in its 30th year of successful operation, Sage Hill Writing is governed by a board of directors comprised of professional writers and arts administrators. Sage Hill Writing provides professional development opportunities for writers at all stages of their careers. Our adult workshops and colloquiums are run in a retreat setting, and our youth workshops in libraries throughout the province.
For more information, contact:
Jackie Lay, Communications Specialist, CNIB Foundation Saskatchewan
Cell: (306) 514-2796 or email@example.com