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A Neurodivergent Student’s Guide To Local Activities and Events

Written by
Emi Habel
and
and
January 23, 2023
A Neurodivergent Student’s Guide To Local Activities and Events
Image by Emi Habel

So, you’ve chosen Trent University as your home for the next few years. 

Congratulations! You’ll now always have a side of chaos and partying with everything you do, whether you’re chilling in one of the residences, common rooms, or even the Bata Library during exam season. It can be comforting to have all this buzzing around, just as it can be overwhelming. 

Especially considering neurodivergent students like myself whose sensory and social accommodations may vary, partying might feel like a task you feel obligated to participate in to have the full university experience–but pushing yourself past your limits and ignoring your needs isn’t what the university experience needs to be like. University life is customizable, and there are myriads of ways for you to mould your university experience into something that works for you. I (don’t) regret saying that partying isn’t necessarily “my thing”–but I will happily listen to your wild ventures at the Social Pub the morning after while I crocheted in the dark and watched Khadija Mbowe on YouTube.

I personally recharge best by myself in a dark room, but I also remember the feeling of seeing my friends or roommates head out to a party while I stayed at home and wished there were fun, quieter, and slightly less-chaotic things to do around campus and Nogojiwanong-Peterborough. This feeling can be exacerbated if you find yourself being a disabled and/or chronically ill student, where attending events can be draining and the feeling of social isolation is ever-growing. 

While the events I am about to present below are some examples of quieter, more “lowkey” activities and events around town, our rest and health are worth far more than the hurtful, but somewhat temporary, feeling of missing out on events and activities due to living with symptoms of chronic illnesses, mental and physical illnesses, or disabilities. You have semesters and years in front of you to check out these activities–be gentle with yourself and do what you need to make your educational years here meaningful and appropriate for your life. With this in mind, I will to present you with: A Neurodivergent Student’s Guide to Local Activities and Events!

Happening in Nogojiwanong-Peterborough:

  1. The Only Café

It’s pretty bold to put a bar as one of the first options for “quieter” activities, but hear me out: the Only Café (lovingly called the Only by locals) is one of the smaller bars downtown, with low lighting and (in my opinion) great music that makes it easy to blend into the atmosphere and have the feeling of partying, but in a slightly less chaotic way than if you headed over to the Social Pub. 

Accessibility: The Only is unfortunately a rather small space, which students using mobility aids might appreciate knowing in advance. However, the Only is fully accessible and does not have stairs. Also, there isn’t anything stopping you from wearing ear protection or whichever other accommodations you need to have a great time!

  1. Galaxy Cinemas Peterborough

When in doubt, the cinema is always a chill place to visit. And with movie tickets ranging around fourteen dollars (plus candy and popcorn, if that’s your thing), it’s a relatively decent price for a night out. 

Accessibility: Galaxy Cinemas must adhere to the AODA, meaning they must provide services to persons with disabilities who require a Service Animal, mobility aid, or assistive device. In their accessibility policy, they say: “guests may use their own personal Assistive Devices to access Cineplex’s goods and services or borrow one of the devices available at locations that offer the services below. We proudly offer captioning, descriptive video and assistive listening devices in certain locations. These services will be expanded across our theatre locations and guests may visit http://www.cineplex.com/Theatres/CCDS for listings of the current movie titles available in the accessible formats stated herein.”

  1. The Boardwalk Lounge Café

Have you ever wanted to try out board games without spending twenty-forty dollars on a single game, while also having a menu full of goods and drinks at your fingertips? Well, if you do, the Boardwalk Lounge Café might be your next destination to visit. For a seven-dollar  fee, you can try out and play all the games available (and trust me, one visit isn’t enough to try them all). The menu has vegan and gluten-free options, as well as drink options. 

Accessibility: The Boardwalk Lounge is accessible for people using mobility aids, and I had no issue bringing my Service Dog with me when I went. They also have a pride sticker next to their front door that says “board games are for everyone”, which I thought was a nice touch.

  1. Peterborough Public Library

I could easily write two paragraphs about the importance of public libraries for community-building, fostering mutual aid, providing tangible resources to our unhoused neighbours, and being one of the few places left where one can enjoy themselves without the expectation to participate first-hand in capitalism. With that being said, public libraries are also a great place to escape the confinements of campus and find enjoyable quietude. The Peterborough Public Library has a very good selection of books (I’ve borrowed Ma-Nee Chacaby’s biography, a Two-Spirit Journey: The Autobiography of a Lesbian Ojibwa-Cree Elder one too many times), and the spaces are bright and open while also allowing for spaces with more privacy.

Accessibility: The Peterborough Public Library is fully accessible to people who use mobility aids, and they even have stickers on their front door saying they welcome Service Dogs.

  1. Thrift shopping

If there is one thing many university students have in common, it’s a mutual love for thrift shopping. It might be due to our ever-increasing student debt inducing our income into the negative, or that the majority of us like to express ourselves sustainably to the best of our abilities in the capitalist machine we live in. Either way, Nogojiwanong-Peterborough is abounding with thrift stores! You can refer to the Student Guide To Thrift Shopping In Nogojiwanong article I wrote in 2021 to check out some of the most reliable shops in town, as well as to review their accessibility.

  1. Art Gallery of Peterborough

While I have never been there myself, I know many of my friends have visited the Art Gallery of Peterborough to seek solitude or reflection time. The Art Gallery of Peterborough is a non-profit public gallery that exhibits visual works of art, with its mission being to engage and expand the public’s perception of art as a part of our life and community. 

Accessibility: The art gallery is a space that’s accessible to people using mobility aids. Their website does not mention Service Animals, so I, unfortunately, can’t detail how the process is, but they are obligated to follow the accessibility laws outlined in the Act for Ontarians with Disabilities (AODA). The AODA and Ontario Code allows Service Animal handlers who have a doctor’s letter that documents their medical need for a Service Dog to enter the premises of service providers.

Happening at Trent University (Symons Campus):

There are also various events and activities hosted by different Trent colleges and levy groups throughout the year! Below is a highlight of groups, events, and activities happening around campus that are geared toward neurodivergent and disabled students:

  1. Trent Social Association for Autistic Students (SAFAS)

Last fall semester, Student Accessibility Services (SAS) announced the launch of the Social Association for Autistic Students group, which is held in the SAS Group Room at Blackburn Hall every Tuesday from 2:30 PM to 3:30 PM. This group is open and inclusive to all Autistic students regardless of diagnosis status and can be a great place to unwind and unmask around fellow Autistic students.

  1. Trent SAS ADHD Group

SAS also has a group for students with ADHD! The SAS ADHD Group meets weekly on Thursdays from 4 PM to 5 PM in the SAS Group Room located in Blackburn Hall in Room 135. As with SAFAS, this can be a great opportunity and safe space to unwind and socialize with fellow students with ADHD!

  1. Peer Support 

The Peer Support program was created to foster a warm and welcoming space for all Trent students to receive support from our peers. As indicated on their page: to visit the Peer Support drop-in space, go to the third floor of the Student Centre and find your way to room 3.04. There you will find the Peer Support room! There are lots of activities (arts & crafts, puzzles, beading, colouring, yarn, etc.) and a student staff person, as well as a volunteer, to welcome you. Peer Support also has a one-on-one room right beside the drop-in space if you are looking for some privacy to speak to a Peer Supporter.

  1. College Events

Many of the Trent colleges host events throughout the year for students with diverse interests. Ranging from potting plants, pottery, a fancy tea party, and a hot wing competition, there truly is something for everyone. While one event might not be your jam, the next one might be! I would recommend following each college's social media (or joining their newsletter, if you so desire) to stay in touch with the events being hosted–you never know what might make your day or even your week.

Here is a snapshot of the “quieter” events being hosted by some of the colleges within the upcoming weeks:

Peter Gzowski College 

  1. Plant Your Plant (free succulent kit); January 18th-20th (various hours offered).
  2. Learn to Ski (a BIPOC-focused event); January 30th from 10:30 AM to 2:00 PM.
  3. Enwayaang: A Series of Extraordinary Talks with Jennifer Trotman: February ninth from 4 PM to 5 PM.
  4. First People’s House of Learning (FPHL) Social Fires (open to all students): every Thursday from 10 AM to 4 PM.
  5. FPHL Craft Night (open to all Indigenous students): every Thursday from 3 PM to 6 PM.
  6. FPHL Full Moon Ceremony (open to all Indigenous women and Two-Spirit students and their guests): February third at 5 PM.

Lady Eaton College

  1. Lady Eaton Annual Art Auction: submissions are open from January 23-29th at 4 PM and bidding will take place from January thirtieth at 1 PM until February second.
  2. The Annual Art Auction Reception: February 2nd from 6 PM to 8 PM.
  3. Consent at Trent Sex Ed on the Couch (Sex Ed Q & A with Wellness): January 24th from 6 PM to 8 PM.

Otonabee College

  1. Consent at Trent Know Your Rights (Sexual Harassment Resource Table): January 24th from 2 PM to 4 PM.
  2. Chúk Odenigbo: Le racism, l’identité blanche et la francophonie Canadienne (conference in French); January 24th from 7 PM to 8:30 PM (at LEC).
  3. Chúk Odenigbo: The Fight Against Utopian Authoritarianism (conference in English): January thirty-first from 7 PM to 8:30 PM (at Gzowski).
  4. Leadership Lessons from a Holistic Nutritionist: January twenty-fourth from 11:30 AM to 12:30 PM (on Zoom).

Though this guide could not possibly include all the ever-changing number of events happening around the Symons campus, Trent University’s social media directory is a helpful place to find all the colleges and levy groups to follow so you can keep track of their ongoing events and activities!

For more events and activities happening in and around Nogojiwanong-Peterborough, I would recommend following @thekawarthas, @curvelakefirstnation, @hiawathafirstnation, @BLMnogoptbo, @ptbo_this_week, @OPIRGptbo, @ptbocurrents, @PFLAGptbo, and @gender_affirming_spaces, on Instagram.

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How to customize formatting for each rich text

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