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New Minas woman’s passion leads to creation of inclusive opportunities

Donna Randell's Kaleidoscope program in New Minas started with only a few participants and has steadily grown each year.
Donna Randell's Kaleidoscope program in New Minas started with only a few participants and has steadily grown each year. - Contributed
NEW MINAS, N.S. —

Donna Randell has a big heart and a mind that doesn’t stop creating new ideas.

Upon moving to the Valley from Dartmouth five years ago, the New Minas resident couldn’t help but notice there was a lack of programming for a certain niche group. She was looking for daytime activities for her children to participate in but repeatedly coming up short.

Instead of complaining, Randell took matters into her own hands.

“I was fortunate to be introduced to some awesome women who brainstormed and helped develop an idea we called Kaleidoscope, a social recreation program for youth with special needs who are transitioning out of high school or who have recently graduated,” says Randell.

In 2017, Randell attended a conference in Greenwich entitled Stepping Up, which encouraged Nova Scotians to take control of their own destiny as a province, to get engaged and step up by including more people in the conversation and share ideas and concepts that could benefit the province socially and economically.

These conversations and encouragement from the conference were all she needed. Randell decided to run with her idea.

“I just couldn’t wait to get the program going,” says Randell. “Our first pilot mornings for Kaleidoscope started three months later.”

Kaleidoscope has grown beyond Randell’s wildest dreams. It has become a participant-led program with many activities. One morning has turned into two, and people keep asking for more.

“The morning we hit 20 people, we were tickled,” she says, but now there are mornings they have more than 50 participants.

“When I look back at the original dream for Kaleidoscope, I can see how much we have grown and developed,” she says.

Recently, the age range of the program has increased from only students transitioning from high school and friends who had recently graduated to include participants who were nearing retirement or post-retirement.

“The diversity of ages and abilities only enhances the fun we have,” says Randell, who finds it heartwarming to see everyone being so happy to get together with friends.

Besides running the Kaleidoscope program, Randell finds time to sit on the board of directors for the Flower Cart along with her husband, Paul. On Friday nights, the entire family can be seen at Acadia participating in the S.M.I.L.E. program.

Randell has some advice for anyone with an idea for a new program that can be implemented at the local level: do your research. Find networking opportunities and, with a bit of luck, hard work and determination, you will convince others to believe in your dream, too. And then, the fun will begin, she says.

“Besides, what’s the worst that can happen? You try and it doesn’t work out? Hey, that’s just a learning experience for your next idea,” says Randell.

This former stay-at-home mom, who volunteered more than stayed at home, says she still has a lot more ideas, but never knows what project will find her next.  

Learn more at https://www.facebook.com/groups/KaleidoscopeNewMinas

Want to help?
The Kaleidoscope Program is always looking for community donations such as craft supplies, games and books for their free nook in the Louis Millet Centre in New Minas. They can also use small bingo prizes.

“Our participants love to give back to the community by sorting and collecting pull tabs for the Kinsmen, bread tags for a local church group and trimming used postage stamps for the Lions Club,” says Randell. Donation boxes can be found in the foyer of the Louis Millet Centre in New Minas.

To learn more, or to visit the program, email kaleidoscopenewminas@gmail.com

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