Celebrating a Decade of Gentle Teaching at Creative Options Regina

At Creative Options Regina (COR), the corporate culture is defined by three powerful words: family, value, and respect. Embracing a commitment to Gentle Teaching, COR has created a nurturing environment for its employees, resulting in exceptional care for the individuals and families it supports. CEO Michael Lavis proudly states, “Everyone here is a passionate individual who embodies our culture of gentleness to the fullest. We nurture a culture of belonging, lead with purpose, and approach people with compassion.”

COR, a non-profit charitable organization, has been providing support to youth and adults experiencing intellectual disability and mental health struggles for the past decade. From the beginning, the founders were determined to challenge the status quo and demonstrate that care could be done differently. This commitment led to the adoption of the Gentle Teaching philosophy, a core value that has since earned COR the Canada’s Most Admired Corporate Cultures Award in the Broader Public Sector category.

The Gentle Teaching philosophy, centered around safety, unconditional love, being loving, and engagement, serves as the foundation for COR’s approach. Morianna Fink from the mentorship and outreach team explains, “Gentle Teaching is rooted in the foundation of who we are and how we support those in our community and each other. When people are nurtured, they flourish.”

In response to the challenges posed by the pandemic, COR’s resilience and caring spirit shone through. Michael Lavis reflects, “COVID shone a light on the challenges of caregiving. We hope that the learning throughout this pandemic will create change in systems that have long been forgotten. Our gentle approach is not only for those we provide services to but woven throughout the fabric of our organization and how we interact with our partners, families, and stakeholders. It is having a profound impact on our entire community.”

The unique recruitment approach at COR, where over 90% of the workforce joined without prior experience in the disability services sector, emphasizes finding individuals who align with Gentle Teaching ideals. Casey Sakires, employee experience adviser with COR, explains, “It’s about finding people who really want to make a difference in the lives of others and who mesh well with our Gentle Teaching ideals.”

COR is committed to nurturing a culture of gentleness and belonging. The organization’s growth plan includes enhancing the employee experience, cultivating strong leaders, embracing a holistic approach to wellness, and building stronger connections within the community. As COR celebrates a decade of Gentle Teaching, they remain dedicated to making a positive impact on the lives they touch.

Kindness Counts: COR’s 100 Acts of Kindness Campaign

To actively express its commitment to Gentle Teaching, COR initiated the 100 Acts of Kindness campaign. Originally conceived as a winter blues buster activity, the program has evolved into a community-driven initiative to recognize everyday heroes. Ben Morris, COR’s creative director, shares, “These are the people that walk among us and bring us joy in the seemingly little things they do.”

Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, COR adapted its campaign by partnering with local high schools for socially-distanced, video-recorded surprises posted on social media. The success of the campaign has inspired communities across Saskatchewan to join the 100 Acts of Kindness movement. Morris reflects, “This inspirational program has taken our whole organization and philosophy and wrapped it in a blanket of kindness that we live, breathe, and share with others.”