Community Living Ontario is proud to announce the winners of its 5th annual Together, We’re Better contest.
Open to Ontario students aged four to 14, the contest, which ran until January 24th, 2018, challenged people and classes to explain why classrooms that include students who have an intellectual disability are better.
Classes were encouraged to submit videos of five minutes or less offering their explanations, while students were also able to send in individually-written responses of under 250 words.
Ms. Nadine Gallacher’s Kindergarten class from London’s Riverside Public School had better get ready to receive their interactive whiteboard, as they won first place in the group submissions. Their video showcases the activities that they do with all of their friends every day.
“Each child has a ‘colour of their own,’” says Gallacher in the video, “one that is as unique and distinct as themselves.”
“But collectively, when all of our colours come together in a classroom, there is a beauty and magic that emerges, much like the colours in a rainbow.”
Second place went to Mrs. Caroline Martinelli’s Grade 4 class at St. James Catholic School in St. Catharines, with their rousing group rendition of Stand By Me.
Mrs. How-Khairullah’s Grade 1/2 split class at Rideau Heights came in third with a series of insightful quotes from students.
“We decided to make this video,” says one little girl in it, “because then we could all think about ‘If we were different, then it could be funner.’”
On the individual submissions side, Grade 3 student Isabella Smallwood of Millbrook/South Cavan Public School won first prize—a Samsung tablet—for her story about how her Drama class learned to be monsters:
In Drama class, we learned to be monsters. We had trouble choosing which monster. I felt confused, because my partner pointed to ALL of the monsters. He couldn’t pick just one. I can read, but my partner has trouble reading. Together we read monster books to get ideas. We looked at all of the options. Together we chose a fair way to decide. We chose a monster from a cereal box and I made a cereal box monster dance. My partner ran in circles because he decided that is what monsters do. I love to work with my new best friend. Our drama teacher was so happy that we were working together that she let us each invent our own monster. The student chose a burger monster and I picked an animal monster. We both love acting out monsters. We all learned that everyone can do amazing things. My partner learns differently, but that does not change him. He taught me to be myself.
Alyssa Schafer, a Grade 6 student from Lake Road Public School, came in second for her argument that people who have a disability should share classrooms with everyone else:
Have you ever seen a child react poorly to a person with a disability in public? Without having them in classrooms we are encouraging this behaviour. This is why I believe we should have inclusive classrooms for students with intellectual disabilities.
Having these students in our classrooms will show us how to be inclusive and respectful in the future. They deserve the same education as us, even though they may not be able to speak they could academically be at the same level as us. This is why we need to have more children with disabilities in our classrooms.
It would be better for the disabled students to be in class with other disabled students and non-disabled students, so they could meet more people and not feel left out at the same time.
Some students think it would be a bad idea to have more intellectually disabled students because it would take time away from their learning time but I totally disagree, we should encourage them to have the same education as us! This is why I think we should have inclusive classrooms.
Finally, Grade 4 student Emma MacDonald of St. James Catholic School snagged third place for her inspiring poem about the things she and her friends can do that are the same, and what makes them a team:
We stay together
We help each other
We play together
We can do anything together
We play games with Maddie and Riley
They can’t do the same things we do like read books
or type on the computer
But they can do touch math and they love to play with
playdough with us
We’re still better together
because we are a team
A joyful, happy, awesome and cool team!
Schafer and MacDonald will both receive gift certificates to Cineplex.
Honourable mentions went to submissions from the following:
Mrs. Whitney Gray’s Grade 6 class at Little Current Public School
Ms. Amy Walper Bedard’s Grade 5/6 class at Exeter Elementary Public School
Mr. Annesley’s Grade 6 class at St. Theresa Catholic Elementary School
Grade 6 student Charlotte Machan of Lakeroad Public School
Together we are better
It’s hard, sometimes, you know? You see these kids with intellectual disabilities being separated from everyone else even if they’re the same age. But we should all learn together as a class, group, family , and this is why I would like to tell you my reasons for why we should stick together!
I know that we were all made to be different but no one should be separated because of it ; keeping these people away from a normal life doesn’t make them feel good or happy it just makes them feel like they’re an outcast.
Another reason to keep us together is that it helps the kids with intellectual disabilities with social, friendship and hardworking skills to get them through life’s troubles. Being with other kids in a everyday class makes them feel normal and maybe they would forget they had these disabilities.
Being in an inclusive environment helps everyone! If they’re feeling sad or maybe being bullied it would help to have some very close friends to stand up for you or make you feel better when you’re sick, angry or sad.
Our deeds are our monuments and I think I would want to be remembered by being inclusive and making the right decisions without doing so offensively or selfishly.
Grade 3 student Ethan McLaughlin of Hampton Jr. Public School
I think it is important for students with intellectual disabilities to be included into a regular classroom to make friends. Other kids can help them. We can learn from them. So they don’t feel left out. So they can learn to share stuff. So they can learn to talk to other people. These kids are just like you and I and they need to be included like everyone else.
Grade 3 student Emma Demarchant of St. Peter and Paul Catholic Elementary School
Together were better
Others will not feel left out
Grow and learn together
To be a good role model
If I had to be put in a separate class because I had an intellectual disability, I would feel uncomfortable being with different grades. I wouldn’t have different people in my class to help me. Kids with intellectual disabilities should be in a regular class because there will be more role models and they can have fun with others, but most importantly we are BETTER TOGETHER! I hope that all schools let people with intellectual disabilities be in a regular class
Congratulations to the winners!