Holy Trinity Catholic High School
Waterford Secondary School
Cayuga Secondary School
Our Community Partners
Artful Expressions of an Inclusive Community aims to empower youth voice and showcase a collective, youth-led vision of an inclusive Canada through the medium of art. The project aims to create opportunities to connect with people and increase discussions on how we can create change and encourage more youth to join the cause
Fusion4Inclusion is a local movement of young people, who are connected to and supported by Community Living Ontario’s provincial youth engagement initiative Re: Action4Inclusion. Several youth advisors from Fusion4Inclusion are implementing a youth-led social impact project called ‘Artful Expressions of an Inclusive Community’ in the Haldimand, Norfolk and Six Nations communities. The student leads of this project, supported by adult allies from five agencies, will be turning their innovative ideas for youth empowerment into action in our community, by engaging their peers in an artistic project that showcases a collective youth vision for a more inclusive Canada. The project is looking for young artists (aged 13-21) who have a vision for a more inclusive community and Canada to submit artwork that reflects that vision.
goals and objectives
The goal of a Community Change Projects is to empower youth, with and without a disability, to realize their role as active citizens in Canada and to provide an opportunity for youth to share with our community what their vision is for the future. This may be an opportunity for youth in our community to draw attention to where the gaps in our society exist and perhaps spark conversation about what needs to change or what we need to continue to do as a community so that ALL youth feel they belong in Haldimand and Norfolk.
CHANGE PROJECT : Artful Expressions of an Inclusive Community
Three Ontario high schools from the Haldimand and Norfolk Region have been busy hosting a local chapter of the Reaction4Inclusion Movement in their communities. Students from their schools launched their Community Change Project Fusion4Inclusion at the start of the semester after they applied for funding in early December. Youth leading this project wanted to lay the foundation for their community to begin bringing youth voice into conversations on inclusion and diversity. The students and their allies strongly believe that people are more alike than they are different and decided to use their local project to share this message with their peers at Holy Trinity Catholic High School, Waterford Secondary School, and Cayuga Secondary School.
The youth-lead initiative, in collaboration with two school boards and four Community Living associations aims to change the way students think about disability and to inspire the community to be a space where everyone can enjoy the same opportunities. According to Community Living Ontario’s Youth Partnership and Project Advisor Emily Branje, this has been an opportunity “for youth leaders to really take the lead and design a project that uses their own lived experiences to inform change.”
The six students who worked on the Haldimand and Norfolk Change Project created a video that showcased the dreams and personalities of students from all three schools. The students in the video, of all ages and abilities, emphasized that what they wanted most from their school and greater community was for people to take the time to truly get to know one another and to look past what people see on the outside.
“Students were very thoughtful with their answers,” said Branje. “People who see the video will be talking about the idea of acceptance versus authentic inclusion. Acceptance and tolerance isn’t enough for somebody to be fully included in the community. Inclusion is really about the meaningful relationships that people gain from being a contributing member of their school and greater community.”
Two of the participating schools recently held assemblies where Branje and Reaction4Inclusion ambassador Brittany Manu spoke to youth and encouraged them to realize that inclusion is a social justice issue and that the voice of people who have an intellectual disability needs to be empowered. They reinforced the message that as allies we need to support people to use their own voice to advocate for themselves and together build places in community where youth can thrive.
As part of their local chapter, Fusion4Inclusion, youth and their allies also launched both a logo competition for their chapter as well as an awareness campaign across the region. They used chatter posters around the schools, which posed questions like ‘Why are people more likely to define a person by a label instead of their gifts and talents?’” Indeed this group of students and their school and community allies have done a phenomenal job of demonstrating that community collaboration with youth is essential to building communities where everyone feels they belong.
“We have had strong supports from the respective high schools, agencies, and community at large,” said Sharon Norrington of Community Living Access, “and there has been much excitement and interest within our communities about the work that our youth have done in the development of the video ‘Fusion4Inclusion.’ We remain committed to our ongoing involvement moving forward.”
We wish to thank the allies from the three schools as well those from Community Living Haldimand, Community Living Access, Norfolk Association for Community Living and Haldimand- Norfolk REACH for their commitment and support on this project. This work would not be possible without you!
This is one of twelve Community Change projects that have taken place across Ontario over the last three years. Check out Re:Action4Inclusion’s website to read more about how youth have been paving the way towards a more inclusive Ontario.
-Taken from Community Living Ontario’s Update Friday Newsletter