Students Leading Students
This project is funded by Human Resources Development Canada through the Ontario Association for
Community Living's Community Inclusion Project, It Takes A Village…Where All People Belong!
Students Leading Students is an initiative of the Ontario Coalition for Inclusive Education and the Faculty of Education at York University. The purpose of the project is to work collaboratively with self-advocates, secondary school students and selected school boards to advance understanding and acceptance of students with disabilities throughout Ontario. The project will enable students to take a leadership role in having an impact on making their schools more inclusive, where students of all abilities receive better support to learn together as members of regular classrooms and to participate fully in the life of the school.
Through peer modeling and tutoring, students have the capacity to shape the future of inclusive education. Schools have the responsibility to nurture this to occur by providing the opportunities for this to happen. There are 4 values that peer involvement in inclusive education can foster:
- Students offer a creative, enthusiastic, passionate, and cost effective source of expertise about other students. Schools, with their increasing diversity in student populations, must take advantage of every available human resource to accomplish the task of equitable education.
- Those involved in educational reforms, such as inclusive education, have recommended that increased involvement of students in their learning provide opportunities to develop their higher level thinking skills.
- Students who experience and practice building and supporting community during their formative years become active citizens as adults.
- Since we know that society is moving toward more community based support systems for all citizens, it makes sense that efforts be made to promote informal supports where there is less dependency on paid services. The school system is a natural environment where empathy and collaboration may be furthered for all.
The project is based on the potential of students to lead other students to increased understanding of the lives and hopes of their peers with disabilities through the development and delivery of a peer to peer workshop designed to provide information on the experiences and challenges of disability.
Three communities have been selected: Toronto, Ottawa and London. Each of the co-terminus boards (for a total of 6 boards) in those communities will be approached. Each board will identify a secondary school that they feel would be suitable. Each school, assisted by the Project Coordinator and the Self Advocate Consultant, will select the students who will be part of the training team. Hopefully, the school will be able to identify a teacher advisor, as well. A self advocate from the community will also be assigned to each team. The training of the 2 school teams in each community will occur together. They will meet approximately 4 times for training. There will be a large provincial weekend training conference that will occur after all of the individual community training has been completed.
Evaluation of the project will take place in the form of Participatory Action Research. Students will be asked to keep a journal of their experiences throughout the project that will allow the coordinator to assess evidence of increased understanding of disability, growth of leadership, challenges in the experience, etc.
We believe this to be an excellent opportunity to advance the inclusion of individuals with disabilities in our communities. The culture of today's schools is such that students will welcome the challenge of reframing disability and presenting it as a social justice issue. We anticipate that this segment of society will embrace the value of diversity and will shape the thinking of those around them, which will pave a road of acceptance and belonging for students with disabilities who enter their schools, enabling them to contribute fully to the life of the school.
Building for Inclusion
This is a 2 year project funded by Trillium Foundation, beginning in the spring of 2000.
The PURPOSE of the project is to promote the rights of all students to a good education by helping families achieve better IEP’s for their children
The GOAL is to develop a model of training in up to 30 communities to provide support to parents of children with disabilities so they can effectively participate in education planning
All Teachers All Students
This 10 month project began in June, 2000
This was a joint initiative with the Faculty Education of York University and is being funded by the Community Living Ontario.
The PURPOSE of the project was to work collaboratively with Faculties of Education across Ontario to restructure teacher training programs around Inclusive Education.
The GOAL was to inform teacher educators across Ontario about the benefits of Inclusive Education.
Building Inclusive Schools (completed)
This three year project ran from 1995-1998,
It was run by a grant from the Ministry of Education and Training, which was then matched by OACL and CACL.
The purpose of the project was to select 20 schools throughout the province who had demonstrated a vision, identified a plan of action for professional development, restructuring and collaboration towards an inclusive school community.
For more information about this project, please see the resources section.