A video supporting inclusion in education this week earned Marnie McKenzie’s Grade 8 class at Park Manor PS a $250 prize.
Cheryl Peterson, the executive director of Elmira District Community Living, was at the Elmira school Tuesday to present the award in person.
The province-wide “Together We’re Better” contest was organized in celebration of Inclusive Education Month by Community Living Ontario.
Staff at Elmira District Community Living (EDCL) mailed local schools asking for entries to be sent to them as well for an additional prize as part of the organization’s roster of events celebrating their 60th anniversary. More events marking the anniversary will be held throughout the rest of the year.
Teacher Marnie McKenzie said she was happy to submit the video to EDCL.
“As a class we decided we wanted to showcase all the things we do to be inclusive.”
The video submitted features the class sledding with their differently-abled classmate Kate Meissner and includes more classmates sharing what inclusion means to them.
“Kate loved the video,” said Amy Ray, Meissner’s education assistant. “She loves to be included and to be with her friends. She just wants to be involved in everything.
“She has a lot of good friends and she’s very affectionate to those people. She’s very loving.”
“Inclusivity is including anybody in your group,” said Caleigh Stuggins, a student in the class. “You put aside your differences and you come together as a group and do what you enjoy.”
Heidi Habschieb, another student, was featured in the video pulling Meissner’s sleigh.
“I pulled Kate in the sled outside which was kind of hard, but we did it. Everyone gets included and no one ever gets left out and we have accessible things for everybody because we’re all different and everyone needs different things,” she said of her interpretation of what it means to be inclusive.
Bailey Sproule also shared what inclusivity means to her. “Just not leaving anyone out, even if they’re different from you,” she said. “Everyone is a person. Disability and skin colour, things like that, it doesn’t define you.”