SD8 PRO D DAY # 2. Diversity and Inclusion!

PRO D DAY By Alexis and Marco

This month myself and Marco Pasqua, founder of Marco Pasqua Enterprises and Meaningful Access Consulting were invited to host a Professional Development Day teaching all staff about the journey’s people with disabilities undergo inside and out. In this presentation me and Marco outlined the meaningful importance of having equity, diversity, inclusion, accessibility, and dignity as part of the person’s life journey even though they may have a diverse ability which sometimes makes us adapt we are still beautifully talented on the inside weather or not we are able to perform daily living skills without assistance. 

This particular episode speaks to the importance of an acronym I D E A Inclusion, Equity,  Diversity, and Accessibility.  

Let me know when you’re ready. Okay. Three, two, and one. Today I would like to thank School District eight  Lake, for allowing me to be up here today and share my story along with all the life journeys that I’ve had. First off, I would like to state the territory acknowledgement for school district eight.

We acknowledge respect and honor. The First Nations in whose traditional territories the KOOTENAY Lake  School District operates on, and all indigenous people residing within the boundaries of school. District eight.

Now, the title on this slide says, perspectives about Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Accessibility. In other words, perspective on an acronym called idea. And on this slide, there’s also a picture of me standing with my m p shirt on outside in my walker.

This slides says Agenda. And today we’re gonna talk a little bit. About me. What is equity? What is diversity? What is inclusion and what is accessibility?

A little bit about me on the slide you’ll see a picture of my sister and I when we were graduating daycare. This was a big moment for me cuz I had to go into the real world and it was a big moment for my parents to watch me grow and perceive. , I was born with cerebral palsy, which was caused by a brain bleed because  I was born three months premature, which means that three months early can cause you some complications when you need oxygen to breathe and your nurses think you have enough oxygen.

So I was taken off oxygen. Too early, which resulted in my difficulties today, but also my gifts for the day.

A little bit more about me years later, this is me on this slide. This is me standing with Brittany Anderson, Nelson Creston, MLA and me , talking to her about what different funding supports or different services we can access for people with disabilities in such a small town. Brittny has been a great support so far for me, and she says I’m a really lovely person to work with.

On the slide, you see that I have composed a survey and this is Marco’s piece of it. So IDEA stands for inclusion diversity. D stands for inclusion, diversity, equity, and Accessibility. This whole acronym within itself feels like I, I, it’s so important to me. I have to remember it all the time when I’m advocating for myself cuz it’s just an important thing to remember.

Cuz sometimes people don’t know what that stands for. And it’s our job to be here today to educate people with disabilities. And that is why this is so important. And what this means to me is actually being able to stand. Feeling of, it’s a feeling. This whole acronym is a feeling of being able to have a right in the community.

And Alexis, actually, can I come in and say a few comments about that as well? Yes. So why I think the acronym idea is so important is oftentimes you hear in today’s society people talk about diversity, equity, and inclusion. And they say it’s so important that we have a diverse representation and we have equity for everyone involved and they all feel included.

But oftentimes people in the disability community aren’t really considered as part of the minority groups that are being discussed in the conversation around de and I. And so it was through my experiences in the accessibility world where a lot more people, even people who aren’t accessibility professionals, but people who were recognizing that people with disabilities are a large component of the rest of our country.

In fact by 2030 it’s estimated that one in five Canadians will identify with having some form of disability, and that includes the aging population, that the individuals who are of. Advanced age and, and, and wouldn’t necessarily identify as having a disability. But they don’t realize that by making a more equitable society, one that is universally designed that you’re actually preparing your community to be ready for someone, whether they’re nine or 90 years old, and that all your programs, services, and places work for everyone.

Regardless of your ability. And that’s why I think the acronym idea is so important because people say, well, isn’t that a great idea? And it’s a great way to remember that accessibility is something that is so important to remember that everyone has access to the places that they live, work, play, and learn.

And it’s not just about creating diversity, equity, or inclusion. It’s remembering that people with disabilities make up a. Component or portion of our society, and that it’s the one minority group at any time that you can join at any time, right? So you know, you may be fine today, but five years from now, your vision isn’t so great.

Or potentially you have an acquired disability or have a prosthetic arm or leg, or something happens in the future by creating societies that are more prepared for people with disabilities, it means that it’s already ready for you, regardless of what your adapting needs and changing needs are. Alexis does a great job of making sure to speak to those things and advocating for those things in advance so that those things are ready for you in the future when you need them.

So what I’m trying to say is you, I’m sure you can give Alexis a huge thanks for all the work she’s doing now, the groundwork she’s doing now, so that it’s ready for your community members in the future. Thanks, Marco.

Equity, what does that mean to you? Please type in chat box. So Marco as, as people type in the chat box. Yeah. Would you mind reading out some of the definitions of equity? Oh, sure. Absolutely. Yeah, for sure. Thank you. But what it means to people. Yeah, yeah, for sure. And again, everyone, remember there’s no wrong answers or no silly answers.

I’d say just based on your knowledge base, what equity means to you is totally fine. To write whatever you feel from your heart and from your mind. Exactly.

So we’ll give a moment here for people to be typing in here.

It’s also good to get a sense of how similar people are in terms of their definitions. Okay. Exactly. After Darla says the ability to work, play, or learn the same things as able-bodied people. Absolutely. Yes, absolutely. Recording. And I would say even further than that, not just able-bodied people, but just people in general, that everyone has equal access, you know, to the same programs and services regardless of how they may identify themselves, whether they’re able-bodied or not.

So for sure, everybody has equal opportunities. Yes, exactly. David, thank you. Exactly. People having the respect and tools to be able to participate in society as equal to everyone. Yes, absolutely. Equity means that ensuring that everyone has the support they need to access and be included in school, work, community, and all the, that life entails 100%.

Yes. Thank you, Deanna. Ensuring that everyone is able to access services, education, recreation, et cetera, looking at potential barriers and removing those barriers to increase access. I love that answer. Yes. I think we, we all knew we were gonna love these answers cuz hearing from people, it’s just really interesting before we always get into our perspective and making it interactive is more fun.

Absolutely. Creating access and support for all people regardless of their needs. 100%. Yes.

That’s great. These are some fantastic answers with regards to equity.

That’s great. That’s great. I think we have a pretty good sampling of some answers. Alexis, did you want to move on to maybe the next slide? Equity, the difference between equity and equality. My perspective equity is accepting that everyone has differences, where equality is making sure everyone has the equal rights and ability to participate without thinking of the barriers, without thinking of what’s even not possible and possible lack of better words, but without thinking about the actual person and what they need and just making things the same.

And equity means accepting the differences of what people need and giving them the tools, also listening to their bodies and what they may need and what’s possible.

My reflection on equity in all parts of life. My, since I have been working with my math science teacher, David Hammond, he’s really made me realize how much he does for people in general, and specifically, he really helped me eliminate, Equal barriers of like if I say, if I can’t write with a pencil and I have to spend so much time and energy putting it into writing on a computer, he relieves that pressure and takes the writing on the computer on, so I can just think.

So that makes a huge difference in math class and processing time.

Jenna, Jenna Reed e Cote’. Also  also speaks on the importance of listening to your body. She is an inclusive counselor who has a black belt in karate, and she is also founder of Phoenix Attitude. Which makes me, which makes me proud that she has a degree in social work. Here’s Jenna Reed Cote.

Please let me know if you can’t hear this. Okay.

Yeah, we can’t hear it.

I think it’s just on the screen. Share options, Sofeya about hearing computer audio when you screen share. It should just be a quick toggle.

All right. Here’s JJenna Cote and she’s beautiful.

I think that as much as it’s hard dealing in limbo when you have a chronic condition and not necessarily knowing what’s gonna come up next I think it helps even though it’s easier said than done to trust that it’s okay that the, the, the process is fluid and evolving. You know, before we started the, our, our episode today, you and I were talking about what, what I used to see as strength and me being strong in, in life and, and that was to bounce back every time I got no knocked down surgery, literally being knocked down to the ground.

And that’s what I needed to do to make the most of the time between hits. I like to say, . And then, you know, when I got to be 20, it just wasn’t sustainable for me anymore. It wasn’t healthy because I wasn’t giving myself the opportunity to not only focus on the, let’s say, the mountains ahead, but to realize the mountains I had already climbed.

I, you know, you’re, you’re not slacking when you need a break and to kind of regroup. And, and so I think that if you’re listening to yourself, you’re gonna get great insight into what works, what, and what can help you right now. And it doesn’t mean that that technique will look work forever. It might change.

And that’s something that it’s good to be aware of because it can be very upsetting when you feel like, oh my gosh, the only tool that’s ever worked for me no longer does, I’m, I’m in trouble. It’s just allowing you the time that you need.  to, to see what else is out there and see what might work for you now that may not have before.

So if you can be fluid, if you can be gentle with yourself, you can be gentle with yourself, that’s such a huge part of it. Because you know, when you’re going through chronic stuff, it can be quite easy to start to feel like you must be a burden to have to bring up the same things that you’re going through over and over again, you know, to your friends and, and, and whatnot.

But, it’s so important to know that those feelings and what you’re going through deserve to be validated. And, and if you’re not going to do that, you’re gonna constantly feel like you have a knot in your stomach and you’re not good enough. So as long as you’re able to see that this is a marathon, And you’re gonna have your great days and your bad days and you’re gonna be learning a lot at every stage.

And it’s gonna feel like a huge blow every time you have something else pop up. And then, and then you know, you don’t realize that you are able to overcome it until the next one comes. Sometimes you’re like, oh my God, I did do that. So I say, as long as you can be gentle with yourself, you can be honest with yourself and other people and authentic with other people.

The right people are drawn to you and, and that makes so much of a difference because you’re not in this alone. And that’s the worst feeling I think someone could have in a lot of ways to have a chronic condition and, and have it feel like it’s just you against the world.

I found that really an interesting clip cuz I learned a lot from her. And just even feeling her energy when she came into the zoom room was pretty, pretty interesting. And I mean Alexis, I gotta say, what does that say about. Building a trusted network of people around you. I want the educators in the room to think about this.

Think about how every single action you do as an educator or someone in the education system can be impacting somebody with a visible disability or an invisible disability, and showing that you’re creating those levels and levers of support around that individual in those moments. To quote what Jenna said about those opportunities or moments where she felt knocked down.

How much more impactful is it when you know that you have a group around you who are helping you to overcome those challenges or potential barriers or obstacles? Both in a physical environment, but also emotionally as there’s a lot to do with mental health. And a lot of mental games that happen when you are a person with lived experience and have a disability, particularly if you have one your entire life like Alexis and I do.

You navigate the world differently. You see things differently. Right. And from the lens that we were talking about earlier with diversity and inclusion, there’s a quote that I love that I want people to sit with and think about, and that is, diversity is being invited to the party while inclusion is being asked to dance.

So you can have a diverse group of people that go to a party and you’re all there, but you’re only really included in the actions and activity if you’re actually asked to, to be an active participant. Right? So what can you do outside of creating diverse programming having a diversity of different abilities, skills and strengths of the students that you work with?

How can you actually be active in asking them to get involved and to participate, or in this case as my example including them to ask them to dance at the party. ? Yes, that’s. The connection with the teachers is a really important thing, and it’s really important to recognize that you, even though you don’t feel you’re making a difference, you are actually making a difference by bullying up a piece of paper that somebody has an easier time seeing compared to just giving them a piece of paper.

Exactly. My recent experience having a psycho ed assessment, well, I technically, I put this one in there just to like let people know that psycho ed really relates to equity because equity is having things be adapted for you and it’s. Psychoed assessment is kind of adapted, but you can’t use your same adaptation you use in daily life.

So say if I had a big font book and that big font book was too small for me to see, then I can’t use a video magnifier to go over top of it and to, to the disability community. This is kind of frustrating cuz we feel, how are we supposed to do our best with this when we only have a certain amount of resources and guidelines we can follow

diversity? What does that mean to you? Please put in chat box. I kind of jumped the gun with this one then, because I gave that example of that amazing quote about diversity. But I’m so curious to hear of people’s responses based on your perspectives as teachers and educators and what it means to create truly diverse environments for your students and for yourself.

So again, like she says, these come in, I’ll read out some of the responses. Awesome. And again, not everybody has to respond if you don’t feel as though you have an answer that you’re, that you’re comfortable with. And that’s totally fine as well. But I think it’s just to get our juices flowing in terms of the ideas and the conversation.

So just for those people who have just entered the room if you have a definition of diversity, you can put it into the chat.

You see everyone as a person, no matter the color, religion, abilities, politics, age, gender, and so on. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, I just absolutely mm-hmm.  a, a diverse grouping of people from a wide variety in spectrum of backgrounds.

So you’re basically not excluding people by seeing that they’re seeing that they’re diverse. Yeah. Means that you’re able to see past their disability, but, or anything to adapt to their disability, even though you don’t have to mention. That’s why that makes sense. They’re diverse needs. Exactly. Deanna says, making sure we include and celebrate everyone.

And then is it Angel also concur, celebrate and embrace everyone for who they are. Sean says celebrating differences. Yes. I always say also having a disability doesn’t necessarily mean disadvantaged. Right? So just because it has the word dis in it doesn’t mean that there’s something to be ashamed of.

You know, I’m actually proud to be a person from the disability community. And just because I have a disability, the only thing that makes that different is that I see the world differently and I act and I, and I do things differently in the world. We have another response that came in here. Oh, great.

I wanna make sure I’m keeping up with these diversity means, including those with different backgrounds. Backgrounds and abilities, experience. Et cetera, and ensuring that their voices are represented a hundred percent in the disability in the disability community. We say the phrase, nothing about us without us, right?

So making sure that you’re not speaking on behalf of a particular group of individuals, making sure that that representation, as was mentioned, voices are being heard, understanding that we’re all unique and we have different needs look different, different abilities the list could go on, and then celebrating our differences and doing our best to build on that understanding.

A hundred percent. Exactly. Sarah, it’s about building empathy, not sympathy for people. That’s something I always say in my keynotes. You don’t want people playing a small violin for us about the things that they consider. Oh, it’s unfortunate that you never had those things. No. I mean, sure there may be differences there and it may be You know, something that other people from their perspective would say, oh, you didn’t have these things.

But also building empathy is better, is a better way to do it because understanding that that individual walks through this world differently than you do, or sees the world differently than you do, and it’s through those differences that you’re actually able to build. A strategy around including people, which includes so much more than just our own perspectives.

I don’t ever like to be labeled as an expert in disability because I’m only an expert at being me stem with Alexis, where she’s only an expert at being herself and her own experiences. But the more that we bring diverse voices to the conversation, the more that those people can ensure that their particular needs are being met and that we’re working together collaboratively to come to a solution.

And I don’t know, Alexis, I can’t remember in this slide deck or not, if you include my dodgeball story. Is that covered later? Yes. Oh, fantastic. Well then, we’ll, we’ll, we’ll talk a little bit about that once it’s presented. So Marco, I, I just wanna mention diversity and the fact that people prefer, I prefer person first language when it comes to labeling people with disabilities.

I try not to label them as crippled or handicapped, or I like to be labeled as Alexis who has cerebral palsy. So you don’t look at it as a disadvantage. Cause again, Mike Marco said nothing goes without us. There’s parts of us that may be different, but we do still do the same things. But sometimes teachers have to adapt.

And putting the person first, as you said. Right? So there’s so many things that go around today with people and, and, and, and holding so closely to their chest on particular labels. I’m a huge proponent of, at the end of the day, the only label that matters is that we’re all human beings. Okay. That’s my personal take on it.

And I’m a person with a disability, but I’m proud to have that disability because that’s my unique perspective in this world. I get the opportunity of seeing things a little bit differently so that I can help to support and educate other people about what it’s like to walk a mile in my shoes. And I would welcome them to do the same.

I’m not gonna know what it’s like to be a person. Particularly particular minority groups or have a particular religious upbringing or political standings or whatever the case may be. I welcome all conversations. I approach things from a nonpartisan perspective where I want to learn and grow and be different and use critical thinking.

And when you’re approaching people with disabilities, remember to put the person first. It’s the golden rule. We’ve all heard it. Treat those, treat others the way in which you wish to be treated. Otherwise, it’s a reflection on ourself. It comes down to intention. So if you have malicious intent in the way in which you’re using language, like the terms handicap or crippled, those can be very debilitating pieces of language.

However, if you’re approaching it from an aspect of you literally just didn’t understand or you weren’t trying to be hurtful, then there’s an opportunity for educating someone. In that case, it’s not that they came out there to attack you, it’s that they just didn’t understand. And so from, from Alexis’s perspective, as she’s saying, Her preference is a person with a disability.

I’m a person with cerebral palsy and, and I feel the same way. I’m a person with cerebral palsy, but there’s so much more about what makes me me that is more important than my disability. At least that’s my take. Yes. Our, the only thing, the only things about us that make us unique are the only things we should focus on.

Say for me, if I didn’t have a disability, I wouldn’t be up here today presenting, but at the same time, if I didn’t have a disability, I’d be able to do things capa, do things like ski or which I’m still able to ski. It just has to be adapted, which sometimes you feel like running a marathon is like running a mile where people say, running a marathon is running a marathon, and for me, running a marathon is walking.

Throughout the whole grocery store in CREs. Yeah, that’s a great example, right? I could say feeling like you’re running a marathon is check your cardio. Okay, . So for me, using my walker as I’m a manual wheelchair user on a regular basis, for me, I get winded by walking to the end of my very long hallway on the way to my apartment.

And if that’s a marathon for me, then I think that it’s all about setting personal bests. And as educators, it’s not about expecting individuals to be able to adhere to particular things in physical education class, but how can you work with that person to reach similar goals that actually meet them where they’re at?

While also meeting the criteria of what you are expected to teach as a facilitator or as an educator, how can you potentially take an existing program that you have for people who have typical abilities and potentially adapt that program so that everyone feels included? And my dodge ball story that I alluded to earlier is a great example of how when I was in high school, I had a teacher that did just that for me without even thinking.

This is, we’re talking, we’re talking in the late nineties, early two thousands. Okay, this is well over 20 years ago. And we’re talking about a teacher who was not exposed to a lot of the things that we have today when it comes to diversity and inclusion training. There was no such thing really at that time.

So this is a teacher who just knew. They wanted me to be included like everyone else, and the way in which they would have the students see me the same as everybody else is if by not making a big deal about the adaptions that were being created for me in order to feel included. And I feel like we can get into that a little bit later.

Alexis. Yes. So adaptation can be simple depending on the mindset and depending on whether you think, oh, this person has three prop palsy, we gotta make our whole new chair. Where sometimes adaptations are so simple, it’s like, just put a foot stool underneath my feet and I’ll be okay for at this point it’s, it’s so simple, but it might not be simple to some people, but it’s simple to us because we live that life every day.

That’s right. The person who’s gonna be the expert on themselves. And when I do diversity and inclusion trainings and I do full 60, 90 minute programs for schools, universities, government bodies, I always say the number one tip takeaway is ask the person how you can best support. As Alexis just said, they’re going to be the expert on their own abilities and skillsets, and there’s nothing to be ashamed about to approach that person and.

Hey, when you’ve been in an environment like this in the past, what tools, what adaptations have individuals done for you? In order for you to fully participate in what it is that we’re doing, I want to make sure that you feel included, and I want to make sure that your voice is being heard and just by doing that, you didn’t mention the word disability once you just said, I want to make sure that I’m doing what I can to adapt the environment around you, as opposed to you adapting yourself to the environment.

And there’s a big difference there. Yes, there is. When y sometimes people with disabilities don’t see they don’t see their adaptations as adaptations. They just see as, I’m just Alexis and I’m just doing this and trying to live my life. So as long as a teacher or a staff member, whoever doesn’t mention that we have to use these adaptations, we just see it as daily living.

We just, we just see it as part of our daily living.

Right. And include inclusion. What does that mean to you? Please type in chat. Absolutely. So I will again be your Vanna White. Except for instead of touching a board, I will read out some of the  some of the examples that were given. And that’s, that’s the great, that’s a great example of equity.

Instead of touching the board and writing down it for someone, just read it out. Cuz somebody who’s blind or visually impaired or whatever doesn’t always have an easy time reading or seeing. So sometimes it’s nice if you just read it out slowly and process it and. That’s actually a great point, Alexis, and in fact, that also speaks to people with invisible disabilities as well.

You may have students who are on the autism spectrum who have anxiety or A D H D and for whatever reason in the, in the typical education system, we’re taught that, oh, it’s okay to just call on students and to understand that if that student is avoiding being called on, it’s just because they’re being lazy or they, or they don’t want to be a participant.

But have you ever considered that the reason why that student is avoiding being called on is because they have an invisible disability that you’re not aware of. So really have an understanding of, you’ve heard Alexis throughout this presentation doing visual descriptions of the pictures that are being seen on the slides and various things.

You know, these are very subtle ways that we can actually include students in ways that if, say for example, they have a debilitating disability with their vision and it’s, it’s progressive. For example they may have vision loss that is not a hundred percent today, but five years from now, they’ll be completely blind.

Now we don’t know that because you may not have created a space where they feel comfortable to disclose that information. Especially for students that are of particular ages, you know, they have enough to worry about going through puberty, making friends, all these things. So now on top of that, they have all these things to consider when it comes to, oh, I have this condition or this disability, and now I’m going to, I don’t want to necessarily feel like I need special programming or go to a special class.

Because it’s embarrassing for people. But if you create in an environment where they feel it’s an open door process where they feel comfortable enough to open up to you and say, this is how I could best be supported. This is how I could be included, then you’re making all the difference in the world.

So Steve says, inclusion to me is maximizing students in, in this context, abilities, and adjusting the methods on how they’re able to express and demonstrate their learning within the content of the class. 100%. Absolutely. Understanding that people may need to do it a little bit differently. Inclusion is considering diverse needs while creating a space or program.

So we all feel included without needing additional accommodations. Yes. Yes. And you, and you know what I love about that, Sean, that’s putting the onus back on you as the facilitator. It’s not saying, Hey, well listen, it’s not my fault. The student never came up to me and said they had these needs. But if you build programming within in such a way that is already inclusive of some of these needs, and you’re not gonna be an expert at it right out the gate, but, you know, providing explanations as to what’s being seen on the screen, if you’re showing a presentation or things of this nature creating programs where you can read back to them what the instructions are and give them extra time as needed.

Mark says, inclusion an environment where people or in quotations here are, sorry, parentheses. Students are safe and supported in participating in activities with their peers in the manner that best represents their diverse needs? Absolutely. Not making assumptions about someone’s abilities. 100%.

Just because I use a wheelchair doesn’t mean I’m cognitively impacted. Okay. And Alexis has heard me give this presenta in my presentations before, but the number of times I’m, I’m 37 years old and the number of times I’ve been out with my wife, where people will look at my wife, who’s able bodied, and they’ll say, now does he have any food allergies we need to be aware of?

When I’m at a restaurant Now, I’m sorry sir, just, but just because I use a wheelchair doesn’t necessarily mean I’m not cognitively able to communicate for myself or speak to my own needs. So, you know, making sure that you are not making those assumptions about somebody just because of something that may present itself.

Right. And that makes you laugh, Marco, because some people do look at you kinda strange and you’re like, Hey, could I take over for my own voice, my own needs? That’s right. Exactly. That doesn’t mean that if you ask the person to speak for you cuz you’re feeling uncomfortable or whatever, that they can’t speak for you.

But it just means. Pay attention. I’m not a person who’s cognitively ill, I can still do things right. Or just give them an opportunity to say, can, can I have a moment to speak for myself? Always assume that they can speak for themselves. And if that’s not the case, the person or attendant that they’re with will will indicate to you that they require additional supports.

Right. But always go to that person first. Even, for example, if there’s somebody with cerebral palsy and CP is on a spectrum like many disabilities, who uses a communication board to communicate, that doesn’t mean that they’re not cognitively able to, it just means that they use adapted forms of communication in order to communicate.

So still look at them and not the person that they’re with, look at them and not their attendant and go to them first. Right, right. Thanks for that example, Marco. Mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm. . Oh, it’s truly one that made me reflect back on looking at like, yeah. Looking at my life and thinking about just everything, even in what I do today, like thinking how I ask people shit.

I’m learning a lot as I hear you. Present with me what others say about inclusion. Sophia. Inclusion means everyone can be part of any environment at any time with anyone else.

Have your, it’s about taking into consideration. Most of us will need accommodations to have an equal opportunity to learn, develop, and grow.

This was an interesting one to me. Cause that one was from the mental health coordinator of the district and it was really amazing at that point, just hearing him even say how he adapts his programs to make sure everyone feels included without mentioning that they have a mental disability

inclusion. My perspective on the screen here, you, you kind of see what a picture that looks like. A looks to me like a tree with a whole bunch of people connected to the tree. And the reason why I chose this picture was inclusion means to me. If you’re excluded, you’re down on the ground. Where if a teacher’s taking or anybody’s taking the initiative to include you, they’re asking you what adaptation do you need and accepting that they wanna put the effort into making those adaptations so you can be included.

So essentially, I chose this picture because exclusion represents being down on the ground and inclusion represents being given a hand.

Marco is a wonderful person who has a great story around dodge ball and inclusion. Here we go.

When I was in high school and we were in PE class, one of my favorite sports, I guess you would say, or activities to play was dodge ball. And this is simply because the activity was modified for me in a way that I could feel like I was involved and that I wasn’t to be seen as somebody different.

So, The only thing the teacher had to do is say, okay, well if Marco wants to play dodgeball, then we’ll just make a subtle adjustment. And that means, so if he’s playing and somebody throws the ball at him, it only counts if you hit him in the body, not in the wheelchair. So of course, this meant that I was the first person chosen on every team so that they could use me as the official shield to block all of the balls, right?

But the cool thing about this is that now I was being actually, Actively sought after my fellow colleagues and my peers to be a part of their team. And I was actually allowed to take some of the balls and store them in the spokes of my wheels so that I could kind of, how help have it easier to store the balls instead of having them on my lap and trying to wheel store them in my spokes so I could kind of unload on people.

And that was so fun for me. I still have memories to this day of being able to be involved in that way. And it was simply because the teacher made a very subtle adjustment to the rules so that I could be involved. And so I hope that in hearing this podcast today, other teachers, if they’re listening, they can be inspired in the fact that you don’t have to carve out a ti entire special program for somebody who identifies as having a disability, but rather making subtle changes can go a long way so that you can get involved with everyone regardless of their.

Yeah. And as you heard that, that adaptation that my PE teacher did for me made a huge impact on the rest of my life because people who were maybe a little bit nervous because I use a wheelchair about playing dodgeball with me because they didn’t want to hurt me because they thought I was more frail or fragile than some of the other students.

Here was the teacher now giving permission to make sure, hey, Marco can be included too. It’s just that we’re gonna make one adaptation to the rules, and that is, it only counts if you hit him in the body, right? So now, as I said in the clip there, people are selecting me right away to be on their team because of a tactical advantage of using me as a human shield.

Now that’s not, I know that that sounds kind of funny, but No, it wasn’t just for the a. Of using me as a shield. Now, I was an active participant in actually being an asset to that team, and it was fun. And of course, you know, we’re not doing things so that they’re throwing so hard at me that I’m gonna hurt or injure myself.

But now we’re laughing about it as a class. Because Marco’s included, and we’re doing things that are fun and different, and I know that dodge ball doesn’t exist in a lot of schools anymore because of the dangers that exist for everyone. But I gotta tell you, that was some of the most fun memories that I ever had in my life.

My two favorite classes growing up were drama class and PE class, and, and understanding physical literacy and how I could still stay in shape but maybe do things a little bit differently. None of that was squashed. That flame was lit by a teacher who just said, so what if you have to do things differently?

Marco, I want you involved. I want your personality. I want your energy and your spirit involved in the program that we’re doing here. That’s a small con, con concession that I can make in order to have you be involved. And, and it was fantastic. I still have so many memories of just laughing with other students on the floor as we’re, as we’re you know, lightly pelting each other with balls,  literally on the floor.

Literally on the floor. Exactly. Exactly right. But, but again, this is something that showed me at an early age. There’s nothing stopping me from getting involved. I just might have to do things a little bit differently. Yes. So essentially there’s an, the sky is the limit here. As long as you are able to speak up for what adaptations you need and you have the right team members to lift you up, like the stair lift, that’s going to come on the next slide.

Accessibility. What does it mean to you? Please type in chat. This is a tricky one, right? Because there’s a lot of cross section with accessibility and inclusion, for example. Because people often say, well, isn’t accessibility and inclusion the same thing? And that’s that’s not true. They’re not the same thing.

They’re definitely related to each other. But accessibility is a little bit different when it comes to how we’re approaching the changing of potential programs or environments. DLA says it means not having to be able to ask to be able to access where and what you need. Yeah, sure. Exactly right.

And as a, as a accessibility professional, I often. That’s the difference between accessibility and, and meaningful access. Okay. Okay. So meaningful access means that we all have the ability to enter a building in the exact same way, right? Right. Because we’re able to enter a building, we’re all entering through the same entrance.

Whereas standard accessibility, people say, well, we have an accessible entrance. It just happens to be around the back of the school near the dumpsters, and you have to wait and knock three times on the door, and then eventually somebody will come around and open the door for you. And why should we have to do that?

What we’re just That’s right. With disability. That’s right. It’s, it’s degrading, it’s not understanding. So I want you as facilitators, as programmers, as teachers, thinking about how you can create spaces that truly create meaningful access for people. How can you do it so that everyone approaches a program, a service A, a, a class instruction the same way without having to do it so different that they feel exposed or they feel like they’ve lost their dignity in any way.

Right. So true. I echo that. Anyone else have any , excuse me. Definitions for accessibility

and accessibility is related to inclusion, but accessibility is quite different. Accessibility is being able to get into somewhere, nevermind actually. Accessibility’s got a few different parts to it. Access, nothing’s ever a hundred percent accessible. If you can just get into a building, there has to be some wave flying signs or wheelchair lift for example, or Sure.

Things like that that make it easier so you don’t have to put as much energy into, into living life when you are. To think and learn. And learn. Exactly. And Janice says, ensuring people have the adaptations they need to access what they need. Whether that is in the classroom environment, the learning materials, transportation.

Great point. Can they even get to the field trip? That you’re, that you’re proposing, right? Is there even a financial barrier there as well? Deanna? I would add this is not in your quote, I’m just adding that in there. Because sometimes these field trips can be expensive places and spaces that barriers are, are mitigated or removed or even better that they’re planned in advance.

So they don’t exist. Exactly. Having a one-on-one with potential students or saying, Hey, listen, if you have anything, Feel might be a potential barrier for you to participate in what we’re proposing next week in class. Please come see me you know, privately, and we will work and address and mitigate those needs.

Steve says accessibility is being sure as facilitators, that we are maximizing people’s abilities to participate in the academics and the removal of physical and learning obstacles 100%. And Sarah adds accessibility to physical environments, but also to information and activities. Yes, that’s right.

Throughout the pandemic we were doing a lot of things like remote learning, right. And people were, and that was zoom good for people because sometimes people can’t get to where they need to, like to get a bus here in Creston, if you don’t have it booked in September, you’re never gonna get it for the whole, for the whole school year.

And that’s the accessible bus for the Creston Valley through BC Transit. Wow. So you have to do a lot of thinking, but also, Alexis, I wanna add to this, how is your virtual environments accessible? Do you, as instructors and teachers, have transcriptions turned on in your Zoom? By default? Do you have close captioning available?

And transcriptions are good not just for in the moment when people are reading captions, but they also enable students to review those transcriptions at the end of instructions or classes so that they can go through what was discussed at their own pace. Right? They can zoom in and they can make the font larger if they need to, but if there’s special instructions that have been said throughout the class, do they have the ability to review that material either before the class starts or after the class so that if they do require extra time, To do what is being asked of them.

Have you done enough to make sure that that is possible? I know that when I was in high school I was given a scribe for my provincial exams. Because I have the knowledge and all the articulation of being able in my lexicon to be able to express myself. However, do I have the speed at which to write as fast as I need to.

And of course, I’m such an oldie Alexis that I was doing everything by hand, not on the computer, right? So I was writing with a pencil. So I had a scribe who was there with me who would even during English exams, ask me how to spell certain words. So that I was grammatically correct in my use of the word there.

You know, was it there, there or there, you know what I mean? So you have to make sure that yes, you are still allowing the student the space to learn and make mistakes, but what accommodations can help them for things that I can’t control, like my CEP affects my ability to be fast with my writing. So was my school prepared at being able to provide me with a TA who was able to meet me where I was at?

And they did exactly that, and I’m very, very grateful for that. Right. And the thing is with, it doesn’t go along with just handwriting too, it goes along with computer writing and birth testing and the matter of fact that the person can’t actually control what their CP is doing that day. So some days they may need more support and some days they might need.

Want you a little more independence and ask you, could you please leave me alone for a few minutes while I try this independently and stay near if there’s anything that goes wrong. That’s exactly it. And now with a, in a world that we live in with computers and, and I do a lot with computers now as well, do you have the right software or tools to support your students in order to get the stuff they need done?

And if you don’t, are there grants available to your school or your educational body that you’re able to access in order to acquire those programs? The set BC program in British Columbia is what provided me in the in the late nineties with my very first laptop for educational purposes. Okay. Set BC is a program that some of you may be aware of.

But they basically provide technological equipment and tools in order to facilitate and to to nurture the educational growth of students with challenges or. Right. So for me, I wouldn’t be the same person without those tools. I probably wouldn’t have gone into information technology prior to being a speaker.

Like I got a degree as a video game designer, and that was all because of being exposed to how technology could personally benefit me and make me be able to enhance my abilities. There you go. Yes. Accessibility. My perspective, accessibility isn’t only just making sure one thing fits for the one student.

Accessibility is part of universal design, and what that is, is making, making your community not only fit for one type of disability, but fit for all types, with the understanding that it can be adapted to suit everyone, whether the person needs. Transcriptions on a piece of writing or whether the person needs a bigger piece of paper.

Marco, you can help me out here. Yes, I can. So like, like as I mentioned, right? Accessibility is going to affect people in different ways. Sometimes when we’re talking about accessibility, we are talking about the, the built-in environment. But as I just gave examples, there’s the digital environment.

There’s the ways in which we’re changing the ways and the environments, and that we’re providing education and learning. Some students you might have in hybrid environments where a couple of days a week, they’re expected to physically attend certain classes where other classes they’re expected to attend in a virtual environment.

So what can you do to best prepare yourself as an educator or as a teacher in order to have the tools that are necessary for you to adapt on the fly for any of those environments? And it’s gonna differ from the type of materials that you’re teaching. You know, what you’re going to do to adapt as an English teacher is gonna be vastly different from how you adapt as a physical education teacher.

And that’s okay. But I think having a strategy and you working together don’t operate in silos. As educators talk to each other, talk about how, for example, if we’re using Alexis as an example, you have a a, a conversation with the other teachers that are working with Alexis so that you can say, oh, you know, Mr.

Or Mrs. So-and-so, how are you adapting things for Alexis? What have you found has been successful for her? Instead of operating in silos and assuming that all of those needs are met, maybe you can get inspiration or ideas from other facilitators that could really help supporting you with that particular student, right?

Yes. Agreed. And this is a picture of not the exactly the lift at my school. What, what my lift of the school looks like. It’s platform lift that looks like it’s built in the 1990s cause it doesn’t have any protection. And you can go, you can fall over.

Yes. Those are actually still used to this day. Alexis, I’ve seen many facilities of new builds that have those. Now they do have slight protection on the side, but I can tell you with someone who’s used a lift like this, it can be very nerve wracking because there isn’t enough space for an additional person to be behind you.

So keep in mind that if you are building something like this in your facility, that the person who’s operating it generally has to be able to operate it independently. Sometimes there’s a control base on the other end where once that person is in the lift, you are able to control it third party without being there in there with them.

But just make sure that that person is comfortable once they’re loaded in, regardless of what their dexterity or ability to reach the buttons are, and make sure that they know that you’re gonna be there with them to help support them while also fostering an environment of independence. Cuz it’s so important for people with disabilities to feel like they can independently navigate this world without those additional supports.

You know, one possible. Is when we grow up. We’re not gonna, maybe, we might not potentially have a carrot or an assistant. So we need, we enjoy learning new things and we also need to learn new things. And so the environment has to adapt to us instead of us adapting to the environment. You got it. Now on this slide, you see a podcast clip with Nor Shaker on accessibility.

She is a member of the stronger BC Youth Leaders Council, which Brittany Anderson is part of running. And I thought it might be interesting to interview her just to get a perspective on what is accessibility to her and why is it important. And she’s 14 and she. Has visited the Parliament buildings for a couple of Parliament meetings and spoken to the premier

lack of funding when it comes to accessibility and getting mobility aids. So I had to wait three years to get an electric chair, and I’ve only recently got that in 2020. So that’s been a huge issue, is getting equipment and just being able to live in an accessible world. Right. Tell us about what’s inac accessible to you?

The sidewalks around my city, they’re often too narrow and too bumpy for me to use. And if I do, I’m bumping around. So, or at school, just there’s some doors. For example, my gym door, I can’t get in without having somebody open it because it’s not automatic. So the true barrier is independence here.

So hearing that made me think about how important dignity is to people with disabilities, not necessarily me as in myself, but it really gave me a perspective of how much accessibility can lead to dignity and independence. Yeah, and I spoke to that when we were talking about the, the lift there and having that independence and feeling like the people can navigate the space without your supports.

Now, as facilitators and teachers, you’re gonna think, well, I’m so sorry, but Marco Alexis, we just don’t have a budget for this sort of thing. But, It takes many voices to move mountains with some of these things. And you can go back to your government officials like Mr. Dan Coulter, for example and Brittany Anderson and people within the community and say, are there government grants that we can use in order to make a difference?

The Enabling Accessibility Fund, the e a F fund, it comes out I think twice a year and it does support community-based projects that increase accessibility in the built environment or through programming. So a lot of organizations that I speak to, I speak to making sure that you you know, get into the deadline of the enabling accessibility grant or fund, because if there is an adaption that you’ve been waiting on for your school, but you just think, well, we don’t have 10 or $20,000 in our budget to create a new elevator.

Or to create a ramp. There’s also a organization called Stop Gap ca, stop gap ca, that creates removable wooden ramps for entry points. Oftentimes there’s single stoop entry points where there’s a a bit of a six inch lift to get into, say, walking storefronts that people would be able to get into if they’re able to pop wheely or get into, but for whatever reason, there’s a lift there.

Oftentimes, there’s a, there’s a bit of a lift because in environments like Ontario, we have a lot more snow than we do in British Columbia or in Quebec. And so oftentimes the, the storefronts are elevated so that there isn’t tracking of salt and water and things like this. Well in Mayan Ziv and a bunch of people in Ontario, she’s an advocate out of Ontario.

Her friend Luke Anderson, who’s an architect who became paraplegic, he started the Stop Gap Foundation because he was tired of not being able to go to the corner store himself because of a, a silly three to six inch lift. And so he started as an architect thinking, well, how can we create you know, funded from a not-for-profit perspective, wooden ramps that would give people access to these storefronts and be able to do this?

And that’s only one example of how they’re supporting businesses across Canada. You know, to become more accessible with just wooden removing ramps. But I’m sure the clips that you have with Mr. Dan Coulter, who I’ve worked with on a number of occasions is very impactful as well. Alexis, Yes. And did the, the reason why I interviewed Dan Coulter was originally because I’ve been involved in governments and trying to change the access to building services, funding models, cuz BC is coming up with a new funding model sometime through Ministry of Child and Family Development.

So I was asking them questions about that and different funding graphs. And on the slide you see a picture of him in his wheelchair with downtown cac. So here Dan Coulter is, and he’s also the former accessibility parliamentary secretary.

Tell me why are these guidelines important to you? Cause some people don’t know why accessibility is important to us as people with diverse abilities. Well, accessibility is very important you know, so that people can, everyone can participate fully in their communities. And so it’s, it’s really important.

I, I often say, you know, if you’re not making things accessible, you’re making them exclusive, exclusive to one type of body or one type of ability. And you’re excluding people. And so why would we want to exclude people when we can create accessible spaces where we can all participate fully in our communities?

Marco, I feel like you’re the best person to add to that cuz you’ve done major work with him. Yeah. Well, I think you know, dad, as a person with lived experience, he gets it, you know, but we don’t necessarily need people with lived experience to get to, to, to, to always be the voice to get there, right?

I think you probably hear as instructors or facilitators, teachers that, that term allyship. Now I don’t want to just paint things into a category of, oh, I want you to be a strong all. Forget the, the catchiness of a statement like that, but honestly, think to yourself, if you have a friend, family member, loved one community member, where there’s only one thing within the environment that they want to participate in, that’s preventing them from participating, what can we do to bring many voices together to do this?

It’s like in Vancouver, it took Sam Sullivan, the mayor, when he was the mayor of Vancouver, and he’s a power chair user you know, to, to make these changes and these adaptions. But if you don’t know that Sam, as a person with lived experience, that shouldn’t be a reason for you to say, well, that means that we can give up on all things of accessibility.

I have a specific story about Sam Sullivan in particular in that when he was transitioning from the Vancouver 2010 Olympics and Paralympics to, to Turin in Italy he was being flown over to Italy in order to make the transition to the Italian representatives. Do you, would you believe this, everyone?

Nobody bothered to do a background check on Sam Sullivan to learn that he’s a mayor with a disability. So when he arrived at the event to do the transition. They didn’t have ramps to the stage prepared and they had to remove basically, Sam’s dignity by having a couple of men help to lift him up on stage in his power wheelchair and his wheelchairs at least 500 pounds.

Now, the fact that people who were in government didn’t even bother to Google the name Sam Sullivan before he arrived at the environment and a venue to determine, oh, wait a minute, he actually has accessibility needs. It shouldn’t take people having to do that. You should really be able to come together, whether you represent a particular community or not.

And, and, and and by that I mean the disability community and say, what can we do to make sure that everyone who’s included is involved? And one of the great ways you can do that is if you have a program or, or something that you’re going to run. Prior to people attending, ask the simple question of, do you have any accessibility needs that we should be aware of, just like you do for dietary requests?

Are there any allergies that you have that we should be aware of since we’re serving lunch? Just ask the question, do you have accessibility needs that we should be aware of in order for you to fully participate? By asking that question, you’re giving them the permission to be to disclose information that will make it easier for them to be active participants.

And I think that that’s really what Dan is getting to his statement around accessibility. He is, because we had a whole conversation about that beyond this clip, and he’s getting into why do people in government, Oh, would bother to include people when it doesn’t take a person with a disability to think that we should include people.

That’s right. Yeah. You should start, it takes start thinking. It takes a voice, it takes time. Mm-hmm. , but it doesn’t take a person with disability. No. It, it helps when you have those people as part of your steering committees and, and different things like that. Sure. But also, what can we do to continue to be active participants in ensuring that we understand the principles of universal design?

A little bit of homework for you teachers after this presentation. Research the seven principles of universal design. It’s very simple. Learn how you can create in your programming and in your schooling and in and in your lessons. How can you incorporate the seven principles of universal design with the way in which you design your programming?

That’s a good starting point because by designing universally, you’re automatically helping to fill in some of those gaps that people may not necessarily feel comfortable with disclosing that they have those particular needs. Yes. Right. But we gotta work together to do that. Simply it’s, it’s a work together thing, and it’s, it’s kind of simple, but kind of not really, it’s challenging for people to say it like he gave that example of Sam Sullivan having to have.

Because he has accessibility, he had to have his whole dignity taken away. Where universal design make ensures that you take that away and mm-hmm.  gives you back your personal dignity. Absolutely. 100%. Anything to add to that before we move on? No, no. I think well, based on what I think is the next slide is your, is your conclusion there.

So I think I’m gonna let you get to your conclusion, Alexis, and then and then I, I do want to say a few words about the evolution that I’ve seen in you as an individual, if that’s okay? Yes. Okay. This concludes my part of the presentation for the day. I would like to thank Marco Pasco, Sophia De Melissa line, and all the other s d eight staff and meeting ready people, fans who helped me produce this presentation.

Thank you.

Fantastic. So sofa, maybe we can stop the screen share and people have the opportunity to to, to see me again. Great. So first and foremost, thank you everybody, and I want you to get give you a little bit of background as to how I got to meet Alexis. So I’m a speaker and ambassador with the Rick Hansen Foundation in a, in addition to the many roles I play within the community.

And at one point a couple of years ago, I was told that somebody was gonna get a difference Maker Award who was from a, the small town of Creston, bc And at the time, Rick, unfortunately himself was not able to attend this this award presentation ceremony. And I was tapped on the shoulder by Rick.

If I would be comfortable being the person to present this individual with this award, well, as I’m sure you can guess that individual was Alexis and they felt that because I have cerebral palsy, like. Alexis, that there would be a relatability there. Now this was only intended to be a one-off sort of meeting of, oh, it’s nice to meet you young lady.

Very nice. Here’s your award. All the best to you. Congratulations. But I really developed an affinity for Alexis because I saw a lot of myself in her from when I was. Was a youth and it didn’t stop there. My goal as an entrepreneur is to find other people throughout the world who are making a difference.

And Alexis is certainly one of those individuals. And I have to tell you, from meeting her only a couple of years ago to where she’s at today, she has come leaps and bounds from where she was. You know, Alexis, you’ve always been a bit of a speaker, but you haven’t always been as confident with your words or coming forward with how you feel and the strategies that you suggest when it comes to creating accessibility plans.

In the time I’ve worked with you and we’ve set real tangible goals, I’ve seen you come leaps and bounds, and before we came live today, before everyone joined us, you expressed to me that years ago you might even have a teacher that’s here today who you said look out for me because in a few years you know, I might be com communicating with you and here you are today actually presenting to that exact person that you said, I have a feeling I’m going to, I’m going to be making a difference in a few years.

Do you want to explain that story so that you’re speaking from your words and I want Yes. His name is, his name is Ben Eaton. He’s the district innovator for learning. And I originally just finished my OT and I was only four years old at this point. And I remember running into Ben Eaton literally crashing into him and saying, you better watch out for me cuz I’m gonna need your help later on in life.

And long story short, in grade four he got me my EA to stay with me cuz I wasn’t comfortable. And then now here we are today presenting to inclusive education and all the other staff and he’s the coordinator. That’s right. And so it really does come full circle, for example remember that these students may also have other extracurricular activities that they’re getting involved in that they’re gonna make an impact on.

For example, now I sit on the national board for Easterseals of British Columbia and Yukon.  and I was impacted by their programs and their summer camp for children with disabilities over 30 years ago. Right. So I, I need everyone to understand the impact of that, where I was somebody who was participating in programs because it was available to me and years later, I’m tapped on the shoulder and asked to be a board member of the exact organization.

That changed my. Right. So by creating these programs, by creating these things, you’re actually helping to infuse confidence into the students that you’re having today. And I know that everyone as a teacher has that goal, and it’s why you get involved in education to begin with. But I don’t think you really understand the impact that this actually creates.

And Alexis is a, is a, a beaming example of that. I couldn’t be more proud of her in everything she’s doing with meeting mighty people. I think that she’s gonna be on a world stage someday. It’s only a matter of time. And you definitely lucked out by getting her at the budget that was spent today.

So, there we go. It’s, it’s only up and up from here, Alexis and I, and I, I expect big, big things from you, so thank you so much. For the time and attention from everyone who attended today. Yes. And I think you probably have some time here for questions at the end. I, I don’t know how you structured today’s agenda, Alexis, but I’m happy to stick around for a few moments if people have questions.

We have questions, but I do have a bit of a story to tell you because of my, because of my recent vision impairment and because of that’s a recent disability. And because I have cerebral palsy, I got the opportunity to go up and speak provincially with the provincial resource center of the visually impaired because I have cerebral palsy and the vision impairment.

And normally he just gets students to do presentations who just have a vision impairment. But he said, I think they need to hear from somebody different, cuz usually they just hear from the people and what resources are in the library. So that was a pretty big accomplishment for me. That’s huge.

Fantastic. And, and as teachers, you’re gonna hear a lot about intersectionality, where somebody’s impacted, not just by one thing, but by many things. Right? And so, Alexis, you’re a great example of that, that cerebral palsy is one aspect of, of who you are, but there’s other elements of how you’re impacted and that those things you know, will evolve over time.

Right? And so I, I encourage every teacher out there to not feel nervous about, about approaching students or saying the wrong things. The only way in which we learn more and build on that knowledge and that those skillsets is if by, if we have more open, honest, and vulnerable conversations, I’m all about building authentic environments.

And so by creating authenticity in your school and your classrooms and if you feel comfortable as teachers being the ones to open up about certain things that have impacted you, sometimes you don’t wanna be the one to. To disclose your own conditions. Yeah. But if you feel comfortable to do that, just know the difference that that’s gonna make on your students for you being open and honest with them.

It does. It makes a huge impact. Even when they don’t have a disability, regardless if they just open up and say, Hey, I have a daughter, or Hey, I have a son that has cerebral palsy, for example. Emerson has Emerson’s mom is treat treating him the same as she would anybody else, even though he has cerebral palsy.

Alexis, can I just comment on something? Yes. Yeah, please do. Okay. And I’m sure if people have questions maybe raise your hand and I think we have. Five more minutes in this presentation. But Alexis, you know, when Marco talks about teachers really becoming vulner, being vulnerable and, you know, having those conversations with their, with their students to really get to know them.

So I gotta say that one of the things that that I learned from you is about how important it is for you to take note of what is happening to your body daily. Yes. And expressing to the teachers around you how you’re feeling, because that dictates what you are able to do on that particular day.

Because, and then that was a, a really huge realization for me and I didn’t really think about that until you voiced it. So thank you for just being open about your specific needs. You’re welcome. Yeah. You’re so awesome.

It’s a passion of mine, as I’m sure Marco could tell you. We do. We do monthly conversations. All we do is just talk and say, what’s going on? What’s good about the month, what could be changed? And then we manifest that. Like I literally came off of a conversation with him one day saying, I really think this needs to be changed.

So I wrote a letter to whoever needed the letter, Brittany, in this case, cuz it was provincial. And then she just got back to me and we’ve been changing the world from. Yeah, sometimes it just takes really candid conversations and it is my pleasure every month to connect with Alexis as peers and just say, what’s going on in your world today?

And as teachers, you guys do that every day with your students, but are you actually making a real connection? It can be very hard when you have you know, very packed classrooms and things of this nature, but only offer up the what you feel you are capable and the capacity that you have to offer up.

Don’t feel like you have to be a bleeding heart to every student. I get that. That’s very difficult to wrap your head around. But just start with a broad strokes approach. And as you start to develop relationships with each individual student, really look to how you can help them show up every single day to class.

Because there is a rising issue of presenteeism, whereas your present in a classroom, but are you actually there? You can be there and not be there. You know what I mean? And so I think it’s important to really, really hone in to your students and make sure that they’re actually connecting with your lessons and who you are as a person and as an instructor.

I gotta say, having those one-on-one candidate conversations with Marco outside of this has been really beneficial and I’d encourage everyone to do it even with me and Emerson, Emerson’s a lot younger than me, and I still, still have a caned conversation with him, even though I have to explain what a vision impairment is.

Him cuz he’s way younger than me. Alexis, you have your hand up, so I wanted to make sure I got to you. Yeah. I have a question unless if anybody else does, but my question is like, Alexis, prior to you meeting Marco you lived in Creston and I don’t know, you might have known a few other students with cerebral palsy and you’re a community but now you have a larger community of individuals who identify as having a disability.

And I just wanna know like how has that, has that changed your life? Do you feel like you have like enough That’s community that changed my life. Like Marco with Easter Seals, and same thing with knowing of the Cerebral Palsy, Pty Association of Pcbc because of him and he’s actually the provincial spokesperson, so he gets to meet with us one every month and just have a conversation in general.

So the reason why I’m asking is because I know that there’s an organization out there called Blind Beginnings who also brings youth together. And I mean, I’ve seen the power in, in community, in individuals who identify as having a certain disability coming together and being together. And, and the confidence that comes out of that because you have an ability to talk to somebody who may know, may have an inkling of what you’re going through.

And I just am wondering if that’s also part of it. Yes. Building a community, it’s, it’s not as much beneficial for my vision impairment as it is for my Spree Palsy, but, It’s still part of life. Like I don’t go to as many blind beginnings meetings as I do cerebral palsy related meetings cuz my cerebral pal impacts me a lot more.

Right. Yeah. Physic physically and mentally and emotionally. Yeah. And it’s great to have a community of like to go to, yeah.

Lastly, I, I just wanted to add, I added my websites to the chat there, so if anyone is interested checking out, it’s just marco or meaningful That is the work that myself and my wife do in accessibility consultation. And that’s not a shameless plug in this sense. It’s actually more just for you to have an understanding of knowing how to get in touch with me so that you can help individuals like Alexis Moore and being supportive.

Capacity. I really do encourage you to utilize Alexis as an active member in some of these conversations. If there are voluntary boards that she can join, even as a 15 year old, I do encourage you to actually allow her to do so. Because some of the early experiences I got as a spokes version for organizations are the ones that laid the foundation to how I’m making an impact today, provincially, nationally and worldwide, right?

So you know, you could be that change that supports Alexis to have her voice at the table where it matters. But yeah, no, if you’re interested to learn more about myself or what my wife and I do as a family firm in accessibility consultation, I welcome you to, to check out my contact details.

Thanks Marco. Text message. Yes. Thanks so much Marco and and Alexis, and I am so thrilled to have been able to be on this journey with you again, Alexis. A bit different topic, but such an amazing presentation today. It was a long presentation and you handled it so well and did such a fantastic job presenting to us and, and taught us so much.

Just a couple of quotes from you today that, that I wrote down two or three full pages of notes from your presentation, but just a couple things Today, the environment has to adapt, not students having to adapt. And you talked as well about the importance of dignity and independence. And you also presented and gave us the, the understandings about idea.

And about being able, it’s about being able and, and talk to us about each of the letters in that . And then you said to us as well, I’m just Alexis and I’m just doing this and trying to live my life. And Alexis, I can say that you’re such an amazing role model. You were such a wonderful young adult and I am so thrilled to see you know, even from September when you did your first Pro d presentation to us, to now the amazing growth.

And just look so forward to seeing your journey as it, it rolls out over the next few years. I’m, I’m sure, like Marco said, that you’re going to be somebody that is world renowned. And Marco, thank you so much for presenting to us today. We really appreciate your information and your energy, and your enthusiasm and your activism.

And thank you for connecting us to you and to your amazing work that you and your wife and, and your group are doing. And Stella, no, thank you very much Stella and and Stella, my daughter. Yes, my two year old. And, and I apologize for those who are still on the call. I. I’m not operating at full capacity right now.

I’m probably about 60 or 50% because I do have a throat and nose cold courtesy of my daughter. My, my two year old daughter. So but I’m doing what I can and it was very important for me to still attend this presentation today and show my support to Alexis because she’s a part of me. You know, she’s, she’s somebody that I really feel I’m passing the baton on to much like Rick Hansen once told me when I was a young lad.

So you know, we gotta continue on that message of change. Yes. Any last questions before I have to leave for an appointment?

Doesn’t sound like it, Alexis, thank you so much. Okay. Fantastic day. See you later everybody. Thanks so much. Bye-bye. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, Marco.

Published by Alexis Folk

Hello my name is Alexis Folk, I was born premature resulting in my Cerebral Palsy. I live in a small town in BC. I am currently going into grade 10 and I love swimming and volunteering for clubs. I have been horse riding since I was three years of age for fun.

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