Take the Pledge Today!
Do you believe that every student should have the right to…
…learn in a safe environment?
…learn with their peers?
…take courses of their choosing?
“I pledge to include and accept all students in my classes, including those who have a disability, so we all learn and succeed together.”
Brockville's Change Project Leads are on the road this week!
Monday, June 5th @ SFDCI
Tuesday, June 6th @ ADHS
Wednesday, June 7th @ South Grenville
Thursday June 8th @ TISS
Friday, June 9th @ BCI
CHANGE PROJECT: Brockville
IF I LIKE HOCKEY WOULD YOU PUT ME IN A “SPECIAL” CLASS?
A student-led campaign and a series of t-shirts with thought-provoking questions were poised to prompt some discussion around inclusive education by Re:Action4Inclusion’s Brockville Change Project.
The What’s so special? campaign wanted to raise awareness about inclusion and draw attention to the practice of segregating students who have a disability.
Student leaders made presentations at four Brockville-area high schools (Brockville Collegiate Institute, Thousand Islands Secondary School, Athens District High School and South Grenville District High School) between May 2nd and the 8th 2016.
Domenica Howley, Youth Change Animator and student at Brockville Collegiate Institute, outlines what the students hope to achieve.
“We’re shedding some light on the fact that students who have a disability are put into separate classrooms, and the fact that if they were in a regular class like the rest of their schoolmates, then the learning would go up for both the students who have a disability and the students who do not.”
Howley says depending on the students who have a disability, they may participate in classes such as gym or music with their peers, but they are not taking part in English and math classes with students who do not have a disability.
The t-shirts, which include questions like ‘If I had blue eyes would you put me in a “special” class?’, are meant to start conversations around inclusion.
“People tend to respond better to a question and it creates more of a buzz than just throwing stats at people,” adds Howley.
A display and banner travelled with the students, and their peers were asked to put their handprints on the banner to show their support for inclusion. Bookmarks with five facts related to the project were also provided to the schools’ student body.
The student leaders chronicled their experience by creating a video, which was then shared at the Brockville and District Association for Community Involvement’s Annual General Meeting as well as with the Special Education Advisory Council at the Upper Canada District School Board in June of this year.
Brockville Youth Continue To Build Momentum Around Their Change Project Initiative
On Friday, April 7th, four student ambassadors of Re:Action4Inclusion, from the Leeds and Grenville area, lead a workshop on inclusion for elementary students aged 4 to 12.
Prior to the date, the students worked together to develop the presentation. The goal was to make sure that the children understood the difference between authentic inclusion and exclusion. It was important to the student ambassadors that younger children realized the difference, so that they knew how their actions could make others feel. The youth also had the support of adult allies with them from the Brockville and District Association for Community Involvement.
Domenica Howley, one of the student ambassadors, was asked what the younger children were able to take away from the presentation.
“I think they have a really strong understanding of what the difference between inclusion and exclusion is now.”
Denise Kent, who coordinates a local children’s community group, invited the youth to be a part of a PA day event. The children and the community members felt that the youth’s presentation was the highlight of the day. When asked what she wanted to see come out of the workshop, Kent said,
“Social inclusion is paramount in the development of all children. What these youth are doing is important for our communities and for our country.”
The engagement of youth shows how easily young people, when given the opportunity, will take up the call to be leaders in their community.
Peter LeClair, an adult ally to the student ambassadors, said,
“The biggest difference seen in the youth since getting involved has been the growing strength in the voices of these young people. Their involvement with Re:Action4Inclusion has provided supportive relationships with peers from across the province who share the same value and principles of inclusion. This is demonstrated in their ability to be advocates. Their voices get stronger every time they talk about the importance of inclusion with other students, teachers or community members.”
Indeed, by receiving resources and support from ReAction4Inclusion to do a Change Project initiative has given youth a platform to strengthen their leadership skills, build greater capacity as advocates for change and to be confident in what they stand for. This continues to grow and build momentum, beyond the initial Change Project.
Way to go team Brockville!
Re:Action4Inclusion Youth Awarded the Pat Lacasse Community Involvement Award
A truly authentic sense of belonging can only be achieved through the meaningful relationships we have with others. Over the last two years, youth from the Leeds and Grenville area, have fostered that kind of belonging through their Community Change Project Initiatives. Last night, at their Annual General Meeting, the Brockville District Association for Community Involvement acknowledged the work of these young leaders when they awarded them with the prestigious Pat Lacasse Community Involvement Award.
Over the last two years, youth from the Brockville area have spearheaded two courageous community based campaigns. The first campaign -Why “Special”? – sought to challenge society’s perceptions of disability and spark conversation on special education. Students wore brightly colored T-shirts that questioned people’s perceptions of disability and also addressed how attitudes were limiting opportunities for their peers at school. This campaign caught the community’s attention. The group was featured in the local newspaper and Student Lead, Domenica Howley was also interviewed on CBC Radio in the spring of 2016. The Special Education Advisory Committee of the Upper Canada District School Board has also invited the group to speak twice at their meetings and have encouraged the group along the way.
The second campaign, which the youth launched July 5th to 9th 2017, invited students to take a pledge of inclusion. The students visited five high schools in the area and spent time talking to their peers about the meaning behind the pledge and the inspiration for their community involvement.
“I PLEDGE TO INCLUDE AND ACCEPT ALL STUDENTS IN MY CLASSES, INCLUDING THOSE WHO HAVE A DISABILITY, SO WE ALL LEARN AND SUCCEED TOGETHER.”
To date, the students have collected over 300 signatures from students. Students also created a banner, which features the handprints of many of the youth they have engaged on their tour. The handprints demonstrate that because you cannot see a difference between them, that we are all more alike than we are different.
What is truly remarkable about this group of young people is that they have not only found a way to reach out to their broader community, they have also built a community around themselves. This group of fine young leaders model authentic inclusion with one another and their friendship is a testament to the messages they share with others. On behalf of the Re:Action4Inclusion Movement we want to congratulate these youth for their achievement. Well done team!
If you want to show your support for the conviction and determination of this group, go to Re:Action4Inclusion’s website [https://reaction4inclusion.com/project/change-project-brockville] and take their pledge! You can also find them on Facebook @Why“Special”?