Students taking action was the theme at the Re:Action4Inclusion Conference this past weekend.
For those who are unfamiliar, Re:Action4Inclusion is a Community Living Ontario-led initiative that strives to empower youth across the province to explore how they can influence the way society views and treats individuals who have an intellectual disability.
The conference was a huge success with 33 schools from 15 Boards of Education participating in the event. Both students, educators and other allies came together with the goal of exploring ideas that would make their high schools and communities more welcoming and inclusive.
Update Friday spoke with Kate Hewitt, a Re:Action4Inclusion Ambassador, about the impact of the activities on students.
“We had people leave with a plan in hand and ideas to change their community.”
As an Ambassador, Hewitt connects with high school students who are interested in talking about what they can do to promote inclusion in their communities.
The conference featured guest speakers Blake Fly, Norm Kunc,Carlos Aster Taguba and Nick Foley, all passionate and respected inclusion youth advocates.
“Everyone enjoyed the speakers. Their presentations were interactive and they really made everyone think about inclusion from different perspectives,” says Hewitt.
With a theme set on motivating youth to take action, the workshops were effective in highlighting and exploring the ways in which youth can become champions for inclusion.
“Most people showed up on Friday knowing what the conference was about, but not exactly sure how they could make a difference afterwards. I think the workshops really helped participants understand how to take action and what they could do as individuals,” says Hewitt.
Although the conference is an annual event, Re:Action4Inclusion works day in and day out to empower youth and to ensure they have the necessary tools to unite their communities through inclusion.
Hewitt believes that this year’s message was clear – inclusion is possible but it requires students to step up and take action.
“I wanted them to know that, even as high school students, it’s possible to do something big.”
– Justin dePass, Community Living Ontario