Grand Erie highlights eq­uity, in­clu­sion

Simcoe Reformer - Times-Reformer - - NEWS -

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.

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

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.

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