Go back to listings

Through the Miles and Through the Years, We See the Ability

Posted on:
Image borrowed from http://trisomie21-haute-garonne.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/see-the-ability.jpg

November 1 - 7 marks National Down Syndrome Awareness Week in Canada.  As the week comes to a close, Northern Gateway Public Schools would like to take the opportunity to recognize the important contributions individuals with Down Syndrome are making to our communities.

Allie Leonard, Owner and Operator of Sugar Mama, a home-based business in Whitecourt, is a remarkable young woman. Her mother, Shannon, shares, "I can't imagine having raised Allie anywhere else than Whitecourt. The community as a whole has been both supportive and appreciative of her unique abilities and sparkling personality. Though we have a handful of people who we hold very near and dear to our hearts in regards to her education and personal success; there have been so many individuals who have and continue to enriched her life in a positive way I could not list them all. We are thankful to live in a community that welcomes inclusion but also recognizes those who have to work that extra bit harder than everyone else. I am always proud to hear how my daughter has brightened someone's day or changed the way someone viewed people with disabilities and their abilities! Allie is so well known in our community I continue to meet people all the time who know her and can usually tell me a funny story about something she did or said or how she picked them up when they were down. When we hear others talk so lovingly and proudly about her we know she is a valued member of our community; something we always worked towards but deep down always knew would come naturally for her."

Michelle Brennick, Deputy Superintendent, encourages others to explore stories of empowerment. "The power of confidence - home support, community support, school support, Down Syndrome organization support - empowers ALL of us, to see the ability. As this is Down Syndrome Awareness Week, I would ask you to please take note of the stories of my sister Mary Frances (via CTV News or Canadian Down Syndrome Society for example), her VATTA committee members, and all other children and adults who are sharing their stories. The Voices at the Table Advocacy Committee (VATTA) is composed of a group of adults with Down syndrome who believe that through their diversity and advocacy efforts, equitable opportunities will be available for all Canadians. Thank you for your continued advocacy."

Jennifer Ferguson, Learning Services Coordinator, believes her children have benefited from inclusion.  "My daughter, when in kindergarten, had been classmates with a bright eyed and spirited girl who happened to have Down Syndrome. On many an occasion she would home and describe, "Mom, Suhaani and I were playing together today, and look what she taught me!"  Two school years later, Suhaani is now in grade one. My son is now classmates with the same energetic and lively girl - and truthfully, I did not know until recently, almost ten weeks into the school year.  Not once did he come home and say anything to the effect of "There's this girl in my class...and she's different".  My hope for the future is that my children, and their classmates, can hold on to this acceptance of diversity and willingness to learn from the uniqueness of others."

Leslie Ball, Educational Assistant, describes how Jayden has positively impacted the culture of Percy Baxter School since transitioning to grade six this fall.  "Jayden likes to work: he helps with the breakfast program, running the canteen, delivering things around the school.  He also likes to have fun and be independent.  The students love him.  The girls want to have lunch with him and the boys want to include him in their games.  He is a comedian who likes to make others laugh.  He cannot walk down the hallway without high fives.  Like every other teenager: he's trying to find his place in the world.  Jayden, even in the short time he has been a student at Percy Baxter, is certainly a part of the school community.  He makes everyone stop and take a moment.  They pause, consider their actions, and ensure nothing is taken for granted."

Northern Gateway Public Schools is proud to ensure equitable opportunities for individuals with Down syndrome. We know we are richer for experiencing our similarities and differences, and we are pleased to celebrate diversity for its positive contribution to our communities.





WE REMEMBER Teaching students about global citizenship through First Nation's art at OES!