The New Brunswick Association for Community Living (NBACL), in partnership with the Canadian Association for Community Living (CACL), named 13 recipients of this year’s National Inclusive Education Awards on May 28. Introduced by CACL, the awards recognize individuals, groups, or facilities that have endeavoured to include all learners in education, school life, and the community.
Among this year's recipients are a group of educational assistants from Keswick Valley Memorial School in Burtts Corner and Robin Buchanan, a physical education teacher at Oromocto High School.
The educational assistants winning the national award from Keswick Valley are Dorothy Lagacy, Shawnette Lagacy, Songia Burtt, Tara Cleghorn, Kathryn Hoggarth, Stacey Harris, Brenda Landry and Deborah Ascah.
These staff members worked to ensure all students are included in daily activities and after-school events such as dances and family fun nights. They look for ways to support students to participate in all activities, and have brought in extra materials and equipment as needed.
Buchanan was described as a leader and innovator in inclusion at Oromocto High School by making the gym space into a welcoming safe space for students of all abilities. Students have been given the skills and knowledge to use the gym safely and appropriately, and the physcial education teacher also made some instructional videos with ParaNewBrunswick for sledge hockey and wheelchair basketball. He has also led the introduction of a unified basketball team for students with and without a disability.
“A truly inclusive classroom, school or community benefits students of all abilities,” said Suzanne Desrosiers, President of NBACL. “All learners benefit from being among their peers, and being among a varied group of students can help children and youth develop into more empathetic, caring adults.”
In previous years, the award ceremony has been hosted by the Lieutenant Governor of New Brunswick at Government House in Fredericton. However, this year’s ceremony has been cancelled due to COVID-19, with alternate plans to honour the award recipients to be confirmed in the fall.
“We dream of the day when inclusion is viewed as ordinary, rather than revolutionary,” said Robin Acton, President of CACL. “Those being honoured today, and in previous years, are proof that we are moving closer towards that dream every day.”