September News!

Happy Birthday Rhonda!!

Rhonda McCaig had her 60th birthday celebration in September. Rhonda’s friend, Kelly McGillvray arranged for some of her fellow musician friends to play at her party. We all met Kelly when she stepped in to be Rhonda’s helper for the weeks when Elaine was in the UK. I am sure everyone had a great time. Happy Birthday!!

A Wonderful outdoor birthday!

Breaking the Ice Town Hall

On September 21 there was Breaking the Ice Town Hall. The topics were pets, travel, and sports. The participants were divided into two break out rooms to discuss these topics.

Samantha attended the discussion on Pets. This is what Samantha prepared: 

“My family and I have a dog named Riley. She is a Havanese puppy. Riley was born on May 24, 2022. My family and I are going to puppy classes with Riley. She is very smart. I love Riley!!!”

 One of the questions that was asked during the pets session was, “How do you talk with your pet using your AAC device? Do they listen?” I thought this was a good question. I do have some phrases in my computer like “Riley, come!” and “Riley, sit!” but Riley doesn’t listen to my computer voice, so I have changed it to my mother’s voice. I’m not sure it works any better.

Carolyn attended the ‘travel and sports’ session.  This is what Carolyn prepared:

“”I like to travel to get away from everything and my problems and I like to see new places. My favourite trips are to London, New York City and Boston. In London, I like to go on the London Eye and go for walks around London, especially to see Buckingham Palace. In New York City and London. I like going to the theatre. I also enjoy going for walks in New York City and Boston.”

Other participants had visited Disney (or wished to!), Niagara Falls, or had come from far away places such as Iran and Turkey. Most participants liked to go to Blue Jays games. One participant combined sports and travel by biking to the East Coast as a fundraising trip!

Written by Samantha Millar and Carolyn Henry,

assisted by Julie Millar and Glynis Henry.

May and Summer Birthdays

I would like to wish everyone who has a birthday in the summer, a very Happy Birthday!

In May, Carolyn celebrates her birthday.

In June, Fran, Aaron, and Elaine W celebrate their birthday. In July, Elaine D and Gabriel celebrate their birthday and in August Samantha celebrates her birthday. Please send emails during the summer to wish them a Happy Birthday.

Carolyn May 28

Fran  June 5

Aaron  June 15

Elaine W   June 15

Elaine D  July 6

Gabriel July 18

Samantha August 14

by Samantha Millar

Breaking the Ice Virtual Town Halls: January 29 and April 23, 2022

AAC and Identity was the topic for two Breaking the Ice Virtual Town Hall sessions.  The discussion leader was Beth Moulam.  She is a Social Policy graduate, Paralympic boccia athlete and blogger. She draws on lived experience of cerebral palsy, speech and hearing impairments to raise awareness of those who use AAC, the value of an active lifestyle and making your dreams come true. Beth is passionate to empower others to fulfill their own communication and life potential; she leads her own support team living independently. Beth has been an International speaker since 2006 including Co-leading and mentoring on the ISAAC 2018 ‘Dare to Lead’ programme and in 2020 an invited ISAAC Pathways to Leadership speaker. Beth delivers workshops, facilitates training collaboratively and mentors AAC groups/individuals.

Beth’s main point to AAC users was that “How others see you is not important.  How you see yourself means everything.”  

The first Town Hall looked at identity by asking participants to answer three identity questions:

  1. How would you describe yourself in five words?  
  2. What three words describe what you think you are good at?  
  3. Which three positive words would you like others to use to describe you? 

The second Town Hall addressed the questions:

1.    Think of an ANIMAL you identify with. What 3 words or 1 short sentence describe why you identify with this animal?   

2.    Think of a COLOUR you identify with. What 3 words or 1 short sentence describe why you identify with that colour?  

3.    Think of a PICTURE that you identify with. What 3 words or 1 short sentence describe why you identify with that picture? It could be a picture of you, nature, a place or anything else you connect with.

by Carolyn Henry and Glynis Henry

June Birthdays!

Thanks to Samantha and Carolyn for sharing the June birthdays of Bliss i-Band member (Fran), music director (Aaron), and new helper (Elaine). We are celebrating all their birthdays with the i-Band’s special version of “Happy Birthday” on June 16 !

By Samantha Millar and Carolyn Henry

with assistance from Julie Millar and Glynis Henry

Comments in red are by Samantha and Carolyn

In June we are celebrating three birthdays:

Fran on June 5th, Aaron and Elaine W. on June 15th.

Fran’s Birthday

“My birthday is on Saturday June 5th. If it was a normal year Chris Rowntree, Donna Symington & one of my former pastors would be going to a Blue Jay game at the Rogers Centre. The year I was 70 there were about 20 of us who did that.”  Even though you couldn’t go to the game, at least they won for you. Maybe you could arrange a zoom meeting with everyone so that you can watch the game together.

Aaron’s Birthday

Aaron hasn’t thought about celebrating his birthday this year but he has shared a memory from a previous year.

“When I turned 40 my parents and siblings organized a Limo to take me and my family to the Sunday AM Bluegrass Brunch at the Dakota tavern, and they also knew I wanted a fancy resophonic guitar so they all pitched in toward that gift that I bought myself a few months later.” Have we heard you play this guitar? Is it still your favourite? 

Elaine’s Birthday

“I usually celebrate my birthday by having dinner out with friends or invite a larger group of friends over for a get together if it’s a significant one. Last year I turned 70 and had a couple of major travel plans to celebrate, including an Antarctica cruise in February and a trip to Newfoundland in July with my girlfriend from England,  who is 3 days older than me. Of course due to the pandemic none of this happened so I guess I’m still 69! I moved to a new home just before my birthday last year so I wanted to have a small birthday and housewarming party the same weekend. We had a come and go on my deck, just going indoors for apps and desserts. Luckily Doug Ford increased the maximum gathering size from 5 to 10 people a few days before the party. I had visions of drawing chalk lines on the sidewalk 6 feet apart and limiting people’s visiting time. And I had a birthday cake but wasn’t allowed to blow out the candles, had to wave them out due to COVID!  

With regard to celebrating this year it will depend on what is allowed, maybe take out food at a picnic table?” It looks like you will be lucky again this year to have 10 people to celebrate with you.

April Birthday and a Special Invention

April is the first full month of spring and Christine’s Birthday is on April 28th.

Christine has shared her special birthday memory with us.

“A special memory from my birthday was when I was at my Mom’s house several years ago.  A lot of my family and friends came to celebrate, and we were outside, listening to music, and I had a birthday cake.  Because of the pandemic, I am not able to have a birthday party with all of my friends and family.” 

Your friends are wishing you a socially distanced Happy Birthday, Christine!!

April also saw a Breaking the Ice Town Hall on Saturday April 10th. They had a special presentation by Joseph, who shared his invention with us. There was a general discussion about what other AAC users have invented to help them in their daily lives. Both Carolyn and Samantha found it very interesting and how people are able to be so creative. 

We have a new way to put on lip gloss now!!

See Nola’s message below

It was interesting to hear how people learned to adapt and maintain their communication and relationships during the pandemic. People have had birthday parties, had a virtual summer camp, and had learning sessions on different topics. We can’t wait for the next Town Hall.


Carolyn Henry and Samantha Millar,

assisted by Julie Millar and Glynis Henry

A special invention from Breaking the Ice Town Hall submitted by Nola Millin

My invention is a block of wood with a hole drilled in the top. The hole is big enough to hold a tube of lip balm (or chap stick) standing. I can then bend over and apply it to my lips whenever I need to..

Here are 2 pictures.

Thanks Nola for sharing with our readers!

Beating the February Blahs!!

by Samantha Millar, Carolyn Henry, Julie Millar, Glynis Henry

Success over the Blahs

We think the best way to beat the February Blahs is spending time with friends and family, so let’s wish Audrey and Silvano a Happy Birthday wish. 

Audrey’s Birthday is on February 15, born one hour after Valentine’s Day ❤️. Audrey says that, “this year I am doing nothing “special” because of Covid 19.  Just saying home with my cat Oliver.  ( I wonder if he can “meow” Happy Birthday? “ )

There are many February birthdays in my family.  We used to always get together and celebrate them with a family February party.  One time when I was working  at the Hugh MacMillan Centre I was eating lunch in the big cafeteria and a man came in with 50 balloons and everyone in the cafeteria started to sing Happy Birthday along with him. That was a very special memory!!

Silvano’s Birthday is February 18th. Silvano says that this year he isn’t having a celebration  either, because of COVID. He remembers his  “best birthday was my 50th. I celebrated with a lot of my relatives and friends in a big restaurant.”