Grand Erie highlights equity, inclusion
Grand Erie District School Board marked the United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities on Monday by celebrating the board’s third annual Accessibility Awareness Day.
The board said the day is meant to increase knowledge and awareness of obstacles faced by those with disabilities and to discover what can be done to remove barriers for participation to provide access for all students and staff.
This year’s theme was about empowerment, and ensuring inclusiveness and equity, said Karin Mertins, chair of Grand Erie’s accessibility committee.
“It’s crucial that, as a board, we create and foster those environments where everyone can thrive and succeed.”
Working with resources from Unlearn, a social enterprise which inspires critical thinking through graphic design, schools and classes were encouraged to start discussions about equity by examining biases and how they can be reinforced by the media, experiences, and relationships.
At Pauline Johnson Collegiate in Brantford, students and staff took part in their second annual Share Your Stripes campaign.
“The campaign was born out of a question from one of our students with special needs,” said Angie Ferris, social sciences and humanities teacher, at PJ.
“The student asked how we could celebrate the contributions of our students with special needs. That sparked a discussion on equity and inclusiveness and led to the creation of Share Your Stripes at our school.”
The campaign’s goal is to showcase the contributions and accomplishments of students with special needs and to highlight that “everyone brings their own unique set of stripes or differences to the school, and together they make a positive impact on the community,” the board said in a news release.
Ferris said all students and staff were encouraged to show their stripes — “any colour, any shape, any size” — on Monday.
“Just like the stripes on our shirts, we are all different, unique and beautiful.”
Grand Erie also launched the third video in its series on equity.
The video features the story of Brent Flicks, a former Simcoe Composite School, student who was born with spinal muscular atrophy, and uses a wheelchair.
The board said that Flicks “brings an inspiring message about equity and inclusion that celebrates the spirit of Accessibility Awareness Day.
“Equity is one of six pillars in Grand Erie’s multi-year plan, and works toward the promotion of practices that help students, staff, and families feel safe, welcomed, and included,” the board said.
Brent Flicks, a former Simcoe Composite School student, is featured in a video by the Grand Erie District School Board. It is the third in a series on equity.