TAVA 2018 Conference: Session Descriptions

Accessibility in Volunteering:  Understanding and Accommodating


Keynote: Volunteers, Mental Health, and Wellness (Presented by Elaine Paz, MSW)


The facts are real:

  • In any given year, 1 in 5 Canadians experiences a mental health or addiction problem.
  • By the time Canadians reach 40 years of age, 1 in 2 have – or have had – a mental illness.

In this Keynote Session, Elaine Paz will identify the challenges and strategies to support volunteers who struggle with mental health conditions. The session will also explore how volunteering has a positive impact on one’s mental health and the connections between mental health, self care, and wellness.

Elaine Paz is a Registered Social Worker who has been working at Yonge Street Mission since 2008. She has Masters of Social Work and a B.A in Theology. In her role as the agency’s Mental Health Services Coordinator, she provides mental health consultations, trainings to front line staff, and integration of mental health into program development and implementation. Elaine delivers workshops and facilitates various therapeutic groups on Mental Health and other related issues to the community. She has been providing supportive counselling to individuals, couples and families for over 15 years. Her love and passion is to work with marginalized and vulnerable populations. Her hallmark is to recruit, train and maintain mental health professional volunteers to empower and foster positive change in our community. Her greatest attributes are comprised of a compassionate heart, caring personality, and a strong faith.

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Afternoon Session #1: Accessibility Legislation in Ontario in Practice (Presented by: Desiree D’Souza, MBA)


In this session, Desiree D’Souza will review the two pieces of legislation that govern accessibility in Ontario: the AODA (Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act) and the OHRC (Ontario Human Rights Code). The session will also provide practical tips for implementing this legislation for your volunteers. All participants will leave with a checklist to use in practice.

Desiree D’Souza is a Health & Safety professional working with Workplace Safety & Prevention Services (WSPS) since 2008. She is an AODA Consultant and has worked with a number of employers across the province to help them comply with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, which was passed in 2005. Desiree is also involved with providing Health & Safety awareness sessions to young workers at high schools in the GTA and facilitates Small Business Health and Safety Programs (formerly SCIP) for WSIB. Desiree holds an MBA degree, an Adult Education Training certificate, and certification in Occupational Health & Safety. 

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Afternoon Session #2: Thinking Beyond Barriers- Supporting Volunteers with Physical and Mobility Disabilities (Presented by Stella Palikarova)


This dynamic, solutions-focused session will explore opportunities for supporting volunteers with physical and mobility disabilities. Stella Palikarova will draw from lived experience to provide an understanding of physical and attitudinal barriers, as well as economic and support(s) related factors that impact volunteers with disabilities. This session will provide plenty of food-for-thought for volunteer engagement professionals who want to transform barriers into opportunities.

Stella Palikarova is an interdisciplinary artist, international guest speaker, and social justice activist working to bring the lived experience of disability into pop culture. She is a first generation Canadian, refugee from communist Bulgaria, has a physical, congenital disability and uses a power wheelchair. Stella has over 17 years of experience in event planning, public-speaking, advocacy and running seminars and workshops on disability-related themes including: sexuality, education, employment, personal support worker management, cross-platform physical and social accessibility, and women with disabilities.

Stella has a Masters of Information at the University of Toronto, and an Honours BFA in Film and Psychology from York University (summa cum laude), Stella explores the intersecting experiences of disability, from those of adolescent girls with physical disabilities, to her research on the ethics of the brain-machine interface for people with disabilities, for which she was awarded a SSHRC. Stella’s current focus is on sex-positivity for women with disabilities and beauty/esteem issues as felt and performed by all people with disabilities.


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Give & Get using Liberating Structures (Facilitated by Christine Martin)


TAVA is an association rich in experience, skills and knowledge. At this Give & Get, we will learn from each other in a dynamic, interactive session, exploring the topics, ideas and challenges around Accessibility in Volunteering that matter to you. 

We will use Liberating Structures to shape our conversation and will step back at times to explore how the structures themselves work. Liberating Structures are a toolkit of simple but powerful methods that can get everyone in a group engaged in new ways to share ideas, reveal ideas or solutions, analyze, get help, strategize and plan with groups of any size. 

Christine Martin has been leading volunteer engagement in the non-profit sector for 20 years and for over 9 years has grown and led the dynamic volunteer engagement strategy at Evergreen, based at Evergreen Brick Works and working across the county, mobilizing volunteers to city building work with a sustainability focus. More broadly, she is supporting engagement with citizens in the Don River Valley Park, Hamilton Community Storefront, 100in1 Day and exploring new models towards volunteer engagement in the context of citizen engagement. Christine is a practiced facilitator with a desire to help individuals and organizations envision how they can grow, improve and innovate. She is currently completing her Masters in Design at OCAD University in Strategic Foresight and Innovation.

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