Ryerson University issued the following announcement on May 14.
The Caring Clowns program is one of 21 finalists that received support and funding through The Accessibility Project.
A single smile can brighten the life of someone who hasn’t connected with the world in a long time. That’s what Caring Clowns, external link – one of the 21 finalists in The Accessibility Project – does on a regular basis in their volunteer work with dementia patients across Toronto.
The Accessibility Project is a collaborative initiative between The G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education, DMZ, and DMZ Sandbox. The program invited Ryerson students and alumni to apply for support and funding up to $25,000 to help develop their innovative ideas, products and solutions for people with disabilities and aging populations.
“Caring Clowns is a unique program, the only one we know of in Canada,” said Sandra Kerr, director of programs for 50+ and community engagement at The Chang School. “Participants can see instant results in these seniors, who may have become disengaged, and Caring Clowns can get them motivated. The staff in the long-term care homes are blown away that they can get reactions out of people who’ve shown no reactions in a long time.”
The three-course program trains adults 50 and over to volunteer as Caring Clowns in the 10 long-term care homes, external link operated by the City of Toronto.
“Graduates of the program visit the dementia floors or visit isolated seniors,” said Kerr. “They have a tremendous capacity to reach into that mind that’s struggling to live day to day and bring something out in them.”
Funding and support from The Accessibility Project helped the Caring Clowns team develop marketing materials and participate in events to promote the opportunity to train and become a Caring Clown, and establish a sustainability plan. Community outreach is a key factor in sharing the impact that such a unique program can have for dementia patients, said Kerr.
“One long-term care staff person told us they had a senior in their care who had isolated himself from everyone,” said Kerr. “But the Caring Clown who came in to work with him eventually got him to smile. And then he started to move in his chair with the music. Right then, she knew there was something there that was special.”
A Caring Clowns information session will be held September 12, 2019. To learn more or RSVP, visit the Program Information Session web page.
Other Accessibility Project finalists included:
Podcrash, external link: Cofounded by emergency room physician Dr. Kashif Pirzada, Podcrash helps people who are blind, have low vision, or other users, to navigate Internet forums, newspapers, and other media, hands-free. “Our goal is to help users navigate content online using a voice interface,” explained Dr. Pirzada.
Adaptive Clothing: This innovative and fashionable adaptive clothing line is designed for women who require the assistance of a caregiver to get dressed. “Through our involvement in the Accessibility Project, we were able to manufacture our first collection, which was piloted at a long-term care home with great results,” said co-founder Pat Quinn.
Our Self Care:, external link The Accessibility Project has provided a network of community arts mentors and resources for the development of this online platform and digital magazine written by and for women/femme/non-binary individuals living with mental health challenges.
tecla-e, external link: “The goal of tecla-e is to allow access to as many mainstream technologies as possible for people with mobility disabilities,” said co-founder Kristina Kyriakis. The device allows users with upper body mobility impairments to interact with smartphones, tables and smart home devices via adaptive controls.
Original source: https://www.ryerson.ca/news-events/news/2019/05/accessibility-project-champions-inclusive-innovation/