Holy Trinity Catholic High School
Waterford Secondary School
Cayuga Secondary School
Our Community Partners
“Our overall goal for this project is to shift and change the attitude as well as promote awareness towards the importance of inclusion within the high school environment. This would be accomplished through the creation of a video and an inclusion day featuring a pep rally at each of the four high schools. The promotion for this day event would include posters, a logo contest and t-shirts for student allies and potentially participants in the video which are related to the campaign. A video would be created that would promote inclusion and begin discussions among high school students about the importance of inclusion. The video would be centered on the questions “What does inclusion mean to you?” as well as “What needs to change?” which would feature answers from students with and without an intellectual disability from each of the high schools. Media has a large impact in today’s society so we believe this would be an effective way to educate people and provide awareness on the barriers and perspectives that exist in society. This video can be played for many years to come and not only have an impact on students from the four high schools, but also people in the community.”
Two years ago, we received funding to start our own Change Project. At the time, we started with two student leads to spearhead the initative. As we have moved forward, we do not have formal student leads in each school. We are supported with a teacher ally at each school and an adult ally from one of our Community Partners.
Fusion 4 Inclusion is unique, as we include three communities, two school boards, and an additional five agencies.
goals and obectives
Our Fusion 4 Inclusion video was created to raise awareness and has been shown within our communities at agency board meetings, community agencies, as well as student recreation training programs. We are planning to move forward in continuing to spread awareness as our video is to be launched on YouTube. As well, our local theatre will be playing our film in the near future.
A unique handbook for teachers and students was created by a summer student with Community Living Access on behalf of Fusion 4 Inclusion.
Our plan is to create buddy benches for our communities as a current initiative. We also plan to partner with elementary schools to provide awareness of inclusion.
Waterford District High School is going to be participating in workshops at their school facilitated by Community Living Ontario to engage youth in their high school. Cayuga Secondary participated in the workshops this past year in their school. Holy Trinity is supporting all dances, and school activities that are accessible to all students and also about inclusion
What We’ve Been Up To
Sarah from Holy Trinity-Logo Contest Winner!
CHANGE PROJECT : Haldimand and Norfolk Regions
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