Featurepreneur: A Look Through the Kaleidoscope
By Genevieve Allen Hearn
Kaleidoscope in New Minas is a program started by Donna Randell in 2015. Donna is a slight departure from the usual entrepreneurs that we feature in this column because her venture is a nonprofit. Kaleidoscope offers social and recreation opportunities for adults with special needs at the Louis Millett Community Complex in New Minas.
The Grapevine (GV): Tell us about how Kaleidoscope got its start.
Donna Randell (DR): Kaleidoscope started when I couldn’t find daytime activities for people with special needs. Kathleen Purdy, executive director of the Alexander Society for Inclusive Arts, introduced me to some incredible women and ideas flowed and many connections were made. Staff and students at NSCC Kingstec were amazing at putting ideas to paper! We pitched Kaleidoscope to John Ansara, Director of the New Minas Recreation Department, and our pilot program began. After a few months we became a program of New Minas Recreation. We have been very fortunate to have received funding from several community groups. This fall we will be running on Wednesday and Friday mornings.
GV: You incorporate a lot of creative play in your programming. In your opinion, why is art a powerful engagement tool?
DR: We have fun and fun brings laughter. Laughter brings people together. We have a core group that enjoy art projects but those who don’t often swing by to see what’s on the go. A nod and a few words of encouragement always brings out smiles. We have some people who are very creative with play-dough. Beads are always popular and so are Legos, you should see some of the creations!
GV: You were awarded volunteer of the year by New Minas this year. Congratulations! What did that recognition mean to you?
DR: It’s quite an honour to receive the award. I have put my heart and soul into volunteering with Kaleidoscope and I am very proud of what it has become! So many people have helped it develop and grow, and to them go my heartfelt thanks.
GV: In what ways have you observed participants benefitting from the program?
DR: After two and a half years, we see them feeling happy just to see each other. Those quiet high fives are amazing. They cheer each other on during games. They welcome new people. They have FUN! Our morning sees us being creative, playing board games, working on puzzles, or working on service projects for other groups. Some of our participants enjoy tidying our book nook. When we hit the gym, a good work out is in store for everyone!
GV: Do you see social benefits that go beyond the participants?
DR: The support people who come with the participants are so generous with their time. They get involved and come up with great ideas. They model activities and they praise everyone. It’s amazing how everyone pitches in and plays and works together! Sheila Stretch volunteers with us often and everyone looks forward to her calling Bingo! Mandy Wilson, our assistant program leader, is always coming up with new ideas and activities. Some of us try to keep in contact throughout the year and through our Facebook page.
To learn more about Kaleidoscope, or how you can get involved, visit facebook.com/kaleidoscopenewminas/.
Photo caption: Phillip Randell and Jenny Coyle at Kaleidoscope’s play dough table.