Over the last two years, youth from the Leeds and Grenville area have fostered that kind of belonging through their Community Change Project initiatives.
On Wednesday (June 14th), the Brockville and District Association for Community Involvement acknowledged the work of these young leaders at their Annual General Meeting and awarded them with the prestigious Pat Lacasse Community Involvement Award.
Over the last two years, youth from the Brockville area have spearheaded two courageous community-based campaigns. The first campaign, titled Why Special?, sought to challenge society’s perceptions of disability and spark conversations around special education. Students wore brightly coloured t-shirts that questioned people’s perceptions of disability and addressed how attitudes were limiting opportunities for their peers at school.
The campaign caught the community’s attention. The group’s work was featured in the local newspaper and Student Lead Domenica Howley was also interviewed on CBC Radio. In addition, the Upper Canada District School Board’s Special Education Advisory Committee invited the group to speak at its meetings on two occasions.
The second campaign, which the youth launched earlier this month, invited students to take a pledge of inclusion. They visited five high schools in the area and spent time talking to their peers about the meaning behind the pledge and the inspiration for their community involvement.
To date, the students have collected over 300 signatures from students. Students also created a banner, which features the handprints of many of the youth they have engaged with on their tour. The handprints demonstrate that because you cannot see a difference between them, that we are all more alike than we are different.
What is truly remarkable about this group of young people is that they have not only found a way to reach out to their broader community, they have also built a community around themselves. This group of fine young leaders model authentic inclusion with one another and their friendship is a testament to the messages they share with others.
On behalf of the Re:Action4Inclusion Movement, we want to congratulate these youth for their achievements. Well done team!
Emily Branje, Community Living Ontario