Careers  |  (613) 345-4092

Careers  |  (613) 345-4092

PRESS RELEASE: Accessible Education Ally Evening
Focusses on Value of Inclusive Education to Student Success

Brockville, ON February 29, 2004

(Brockville) _ Friends of the Brockville and District Association for Community Involvement (BDACI) gathered at the Aquatarium February 27 to learn the value of inclusive education and what they can lose if denied its’ benefits.

The Accessible Education Ally Evening featured keynote addresses from advocates Dr. Gordon Porter and Tanya Whitney, as well as inspiring stories from students who have benefitted from inclusive education.

Porter, director of Inclusive Education Canada, discussed the three critical elements needed for inclusive education to thrive in a school system: formal laws and policies mandating it, strong advocacy efforts on behalf of students, and innovative instructional approaches in the classroom.

“We need innovation in the school system by teachers, by principals and in funding approaches to allow our teachers to include all students in the classroom and do it effectively,” Gordon told 50 people gathered for the BDACI event, which was held to celebrate National Inclusive Education Month.

Whitney, president of Inclusion New Brunswick, told the audience educational research suggests that inclusive classrooms that mix students of various abilities, combined with proper teaching strategies, leads to greater learning for all students, not just those with disabilities. These classrooms do not hinder advancement of their peers, and students with intellectual disabilities advance socially.

A former teacher and principal in New Brunswick, Whitney discussed a teaching strategy she used in a multi-aged classroom. She encouraged students of different abilities to gather in “tribes” of five students and adopted an instructional focus on peer-to-peer teaching that enhanced learning.

“The students started to depend on each other and view themselves as more of a unit,” she said of inclusive learning. “It established the power of children working together and learning from each other through peer-to-peer teaching. It also caused teachers to think differently about their work and be innovative in their instruction.”

Association President, Andrea Cameron spoke of family friend Marley Bowen, a student at Mohawk College living with autism and epilepsy, and what could be lost if inclusive practices are not observed.

Cameron described Bowen as an avid reader who struggles with learning. Her local high school insisted on placing Bowen in a life skills program, which would have denied her credits. Bowen wanted to attend college, so her family insisted she be placed in a regular classroom. While it was difficult, Bowen struggled through and got her Grade 12 diploma.

Bowen is now at college and is thriving in the virtual library technician program because Mohawk focusses on supporting students with intellectual disabilities. She has an accessibility coach who helps her liaise with professors, and access to volunteer scribes to help her with notes. Due to that caring environment Bowen has achieved a 90 per cent average and has a job at the local library.

“When Marley’s family made the decision, she would get a Grade 12 diploma, it opened doors for her,” said Cameron. “If they had not, her life would be extremely different. I see so many students in our province who have doors closed to them because families don’t know the consequences – the real-life consequences.”

Parents said they appreciated the session.

“It was really interesting to listen to the speakers and hear what other parents have gone through with their children,” said parent Tanya Sweet.

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For more information, call:

Kimberley Gavan
Executive Director
Brockville and District Association
for Community Involvement
613-345-4092 ext. 40

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