CLASI - Beyond the 9-5
15 Aug 2019
POSTED BY: Admin | Comments: 0

CLASI - Beyond The 9-5

by Amy Janzen, Communications Coordinator

Upon entering CLASI’s new space in Saskatoon, I am immediately greeted by many smiling faces, a bright atmosphere, and a clearly fun environment. In one corner, there’s a karaoke machine set up, displaying bright, alternating lights; along one wall is a collection of games, supplies for colouring, and various activities that will keep the frequent visitors to their ‘day program’ active and engaged for any length of time. Across from me is a large garage door that opens up to emit a haze of the best BBQ smells one could hope for. On the day that I visited CLASI, it was cool and rainy, but that didn’t stop everyone from participating in a warm and lively get together, where it was clear that everyone either knew each other, or was ready to make new friendships.  

CLASI’s day program is anything but a 9-5 day program. In fact, Executive Director, Heather Tetzlaff, describes their unique program as a ‘beyond the 9-5’ approach, meaning that clients and their support person engage in activities outside of Monday to Friday or the typical 9-5 work hours. Heather says,  “Basically, whatever the person wants to do, whether it’s going to a concert, a movie, or a festival, we make it happen.” Rather than fitting an individual’s requests into a constricted timeline, CLASI believes it’s important to find time that fits into the individual’s schedule, rather than the other way around.

But why is this important? Heather says, “Beyond the 9-5 is important because it focuses on the individual rather than the organization.” Although CLASI has been active as an organization in the Disability Service sector since 1955, the Beyond the 9-5 Day Program began 2.5 years ago after recognizing a need that their clients had outside of regular day program hours. Of course, not everyone is interested in going out in the evening, and some people ask for support earlier in the morning. This person-centered approach is committed to understanding that everyone has unique needs in their life and that everyone wants to experience different things and at different times. CLASI provides the quality of life supports to accommodate each person’s life, based on their interests.

The ‘Beyond the 9-5’ Program for adults experiencing disability isn’t the only option for clients; CLASI also offers summer camps for school-aged children, teens and young adults; family support; Phoenix Dances at Elmwood Residences; Drama Club; Photography Club; and Child, Adults and Teens Club.

It’s hard to imagine that the staff just moved into their new space in downtown Saskatoon a little more than a month ago, since they are already so settled into the space. However, Heather says that, once finished, the new space will allow them to do so much more. She envisions more community BBQs and painting events. The new, bigger kitchen, will allow clients to learn or expand their cooking skills, and, a not-so-far-off goal is to create a sensory space.

Aside from the welcoming and bright atmosphere, it was abundantly clear that this is a space for community. Heather says, “We’re all humans. We all have different needs and different wants. Everyone has an ability regardless of their disabilities; it’s simply our role [at CLASI] to facilitate that”.

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