Schools

Schools InitiativeHeather - COLOR

Becoming compassionate, kind and caring in the midst of the breadth and diversity of our families, communities, country and world is one of the greatest things we can hope to see in ourselves and those around us. However, it’s impossible to reach that goal without the tools necessary to get there. 

Using questions and hands-on discovery within a story-based, interactive style, Heather weaves years of experience as a life coach, high risk doula and parent to two disabled children (now late teens), along with her achievements as a disabled athlete and her experiences as a wheelchair user and Universal Design consultant into conversations, seminars and assemblies that quickly put a different ‘spin’ on our perceived differences and provide tools to navigate the complexity of disability, bullying, body shame and self-esteem. With a lifetime of experience with disability, Heather is extremely comfortable interacting with students across ability spectrums and brings a unique opportunity for students to relate to an adult with a disability (something many students rarely experience).

Heather offers presentations for students from JK – Grade 12, in small group conversations, classroom seminars and assemblies. Heather is also available to provide training and professional development to teachers and support staff. If there is a topic you would like Heather to cover that is not yet listed in the brochure, please feel free to connect directly and we can customize your presentation.

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Conversations involve small groups of students (less than 20) with a particular focus. This could include students with similar IEP goals or a student leadership or sports team. They have a very high degree of interaction and hands-on learning and can be highly customized to the group in question. Learning differences can be easily accounted for. Conversations may be a one-off opportunity, or may be part of a multi-session experience.

Seminars are designed for classroom learning. They have a higher degree of hands-on learning then an assembly, as students have access to more materials and can take turns with experiential opportunities such as trying out a racing wheelchair. Seminars can easily be tailored to curriculum or classroom goals, and may be one-off or part of a multi-session experience. 

Assemblies are large group learning opportunities. They rely more heavily on story-based observational instruction, and movement whenever possible. However, because of the nature of the material, assemblies are best provided to students within age bands (Primary-Junior, Junior-Intermediate, or Senior).

Cost: $150 for the first session (45 minutes for Elementary Students; 75 minutes for Secondary Students), $100 for each additional session at the same location on the same day.

For more information, contact Heather directly.

The following provide examples of conversations, seminars and assemblies with Learning Objectives, Commit to Character Connections, Curriculum Strands for Physical Education and Health, Science and Social Sciences (Elementary Level), Parenting, Guidance/Special Education, Humanities and Technology (Secondary Level). Heather is always open to discussing further ideas and options to customize the learning experience for you and your students:

For Elementary Students

Not So Very Different (Seminar) – Easily adapted for students from JK – Grade 6, this seminar covers everything from the basics of what a wheelchair is, to why someone might use one, to how they work but then goes beyond those basics to break down stereotypes associated with individuals using wheelchairs and introduce the possibility of physical fitness and community engagement using the My Team Triumph accessible racing model. This seminar uses dialogue interspersed with story-telling as well as hands-on opportunities to explore a racing chair, manual chair and power wheelchair. This 45 minute session would be an excellent ‘in-class field trip’ for a phys ed. class, as movement will be a key component of our interactions and discovery.

Not So Very Different (Assembly) – This assembly offers the same material as the above seminar, but is adapted for a large group audience. It is recommended that students be seated a minimum of one arm span apart, with the ability to stretch their legs in front of them, to be able to participate in the movement elements of this assembly. Opportunities to explore the racing chair, manual chair and power wheelchair are adjusted by asking for a small handful of student volunteers to become detectives and discover elements of the chairs that they can share with their peers from the front. If space allows, students may be selected by staff to offer a demonstration of the racing chair (a clear, flat 5 foot wide aisle the length of a gymnasium is recommended for this activity).

Learning Objectives: to come away with an increased comfort and awareness of why and how people use wheelchairs; to build bridges of understanding between those who live with disabilities and those who do not; to understand disability through the lens of possibility; to increase the sense of community between able-bodied and disabled students within the school setting, particularly at recess and during DPA.

Commit To Character (Simcoe County District School Board): 

  • Caring (September)
  • Empathy (December)
  • Inclusiveness (February)

Curriculum Strands: 

  • Health and Physical Education, 2019 – A1.1 Identification and Management of Emotions.
  • Health and Physical Education, 2019 – A1.4 Healthy Relationships.
  • Health and Physical Education, 2019 – A1.5 Self-Awareness and Sense of Identity.
  • Health and Physical Education, 2019 – B1.2 Enjoyment of Being Active.
  • Health and Physical Education, 2019 – B1.3 Physical and Mental Benefits of Daily Physical Activity.
  • Health and Physical Education, 2019 – B2.1 Daily Physical Activity
  • Grade 3: Health and Physical Education, 2019 – D3.3 Visible, Invisible Differences, Respect
  • Grade 6: Health and Physical Education, 2019 – D1.2 Benefits of Inclusion, Respect and Acceptance
  • Grade 1: Social Sciences, Grades 1-6, 2018 – A2 – Roles, Responsibilities and Identity 
  • Grade 1: Social Sciences, Grades 1-6, 2018 – A3 – Roles, Relationships and Respect 
  • The Local Community
  • Grade 3: Social Sciences, Grades 1-6, 2018 – Living and Working in Ontario (?)

Widening My Circle – Available as a Primary, Junior or Intermediate seminar, this age-adjusted session uses disability as a starting point for discussion, interactive movement and questions that focus on access, diversity and how we widen our circle to include those we may think of as ‘different’ from ourselves. Students will respond to questions physically to move into different groups based on their answers. Primary students will focus on questions based on simple facts about their lives, such as ‘I like ice cream’, ‘I want to be a police officer when I grow up’, or ‘I have siblings that live with me’; and about their bodies ‘I love to go fast’, ‘I love how it feels to spin’, ‘sitting still makes me feel calm’. Junior and Intermediate students will take these levels of inquiry deeper, with questions designed to emphasize similarities over differences. In all cases, students will have the opportunity to visually and experientially see that they have more in common with one another than they may have realized.

Learning Objectives: to understand those who on the surface appear different from us as being the same; to deepen our care for and respect of those who are different from ourselves; to decrease bullying by increasing the sense of shared connection; to find new reasons to appreciate, respect and connect with those around us.

Commit To Character (Simcoe County District School Board): 

  • Caring (September)
  • Courage (November)
  • Empathy (December)
  • Inclusiveness (February)

Curriculum Strands:

  • Health and Physical Education, 2019 – A1.5 Self-Awareness and Sense of Identity
  • Grade 2: Health and Physical Education, 2019 – D2.3 Consent, Standing Up for Yourself and Others
  • Grade 3: Health and Physical Education, 2019 – D1.4 Healthy Relationships, Bullying, Consent
  • Grade 4: Health and Physical Education, 2019 – D1.3 Bullying, Abuse and Non-Consensual Behaviour
  • Grade 6: Health and Physical Education, 2019 – D1.2 Benefits of Inclusion, Respect and Acceptance

Universal Design – Elementary Edition – This hands-on seminar could be adapted for an individual class or for an entire grade. Students will explore facets of Universal Design in the built environment through stories, pictures and discussion (grade 1); OR students will explore the use of Simple Machines such as inclined plane, screws, wheels and axles through hands-on discovery to as they seek to create more accessible spaces and tools that enhance Universal Design (grade 2); OR students will discuss the concept of Universal Design, the idea of accessibility guidelines for design and then work to design and create a structure of interest that would adhere to the 7 Universal Design Principles (grade 7). Note: Grade 2 and grade 7 seminar may be conducted as a short, 45 minute session, but would be best held as a half day or full day ‘in-class field trip’.

Learning Objectives: to assist students in beginning to identify the way in which our structures and environment can help create inclusion; to begin to think creatively about real-world use of Simple Machines and more complex structures to solve accessibility challenges faced by themselves, their peers or others in the community; and to increase empathy and awareness for those who rely on Universal Design and accessibility features to navigate their homes, schools and communities.

Commit To Character (Simcoe County District School Board): 

  • Caring (September)
  • Courage (November)
  • Empathy (December)
  • Inclusiveness (February)

Curriculum Strands:

  • Grade 1: Social Sciences, Grades 1-6, 2018 – B2 – Interrelationships and their Impacts
  • Grade 2: Science and Technology, Grades 1-8, 2007 – Understanding Structures and Mechanisms: Movement (Simple Machines)
  • Grade 7: Science and Technology, Grades 1-8, 2007 – Understanding Structures and Mechanisms: Form and Function (extends the discussion of Ergonomic Design to Universal Design)

Finding A Place In Your (Disabled) Body – Geared to students from Grade 6 – 8, this conversation or seminar uses hands-on activities and the lens of disability as a means of talking about body image, shame, bullying, acceptance, eating disorders, mental health and possibilities with students including groups with mental health issues, those who are disabled or those who are in the process of coming out as LGBTQ+. Adaptable to any group of students in this age range, the goal of the conversation is to open dialogue through safe, low-risk activities about our bodily differences as a means of addressing underlying mental health concerns. Topics of autonomy, agency and consent will be included in this workshop.

Learning Objectives: establish commonality and connections across the abilities spectrum; create an opportunity for students to identify areas they feel positively about themselves; provide tools for responding to body shame and working towards self-acceptance.

Commit To Character (Simcoe County District School Board): 

  • Caring (September)
  • Courage (November)
  • Empathy (December)
  • Inclusiveness (February)
  • Respect (May)

Curriculum Strands: 

  • Grade 6: Health and Physical Education, 2019 – D1.5 Connecting Thoughts, Emotions and Actions
  • Grade 7: Health and Physical Education, 2019 – D1.6 Mental Health, Mental Illness
  • Grade 8: Health and Physical Education, 2019 – D1.5 Gender Identity, Gender Expression, Sexual Orientation, Self-Concept
  • Grade 8: Health and Physical Education, 2019 – D2.1 Personal Eating Behaviours
  • Grade 8: Health and Physical Education, 2019 – D3.4 Societal Views, Impact of Stigma

For Secondary Students

Finding A Place In Your (Disabled) Body – This secondary level conversation or seminar can be geared to students in grade 9 – 12 across the abilities spectrum and uses hands-on activities and the lens of disability as a means of talking about gender, sexuality, body image, shame, bullying, acceptance, eating disorders, mental health and possibilities with students including groups with mental health issues, those who are disabled or those who are in the process of coming out as LGBTQ+. 

Format: Adaptable to any group of students in this age range, the goal of the conversation is to open dialogue through safe, low-risk activities about our bodily differences as a means of addressing underlying mental health concerns. Topics of autonomy, agency and consent will be included in this workshop.

Key Learning objectives for this seminar include:  establish commonality and connections across the abilities spectrum; create an opportunity for students to identify areas they feel positively about themselves; provide tools for responding to body shame and working towards self-acceptance.

 

Childbirth Education – A Doula’s Perspective – This seminar is specifically designed for the course content of HPC3O, but may also be valuable in an Alt School context. With eight years’ experience as a high risk doula in Barrie, Heather brings extensive knowledge of pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period and uses gender-neutral language in discussing pregnant people and their partners. Topics may include (but aren’t limited to): what is a doula; autonomy and agency in the face of pregnancy and birth; normal changes in the pregnant body; caring for your pregnant body or pregnant partner’s body (options for caregivers, doctor’s appointments, morning sickness, nutrition/dietary points of note); when things go wrong (ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage); the process of childbirth; interventions of birth; comfort and calming during childbirth; newborn feeding and postpartum care (including discussion of postpartum depression); life with baby; and attachment parenting. Discussions around disability and obstetric justice may or may not be relevant to a given cohort. 

Format: These courses were initially designed as a ten-week program for young parents in the community, but could easily be adapted to a two week unit, or any one lesson could be offered as a stand-alone option. 

Key Learning objectives for this seminar include: knowledge and understanding of the experience of pregnancy, birth and the postpartum period; an awareness of the health options available to pregnant persons; direct and indirect understanding of how attachment styles are passed on from one generation to the next; an acknowledgement and basic understanding of the unique mental health concerns facing individuals who give birth; an (optional) conversation of the impact of sexual trauma on childbirth along with a conversation about autonomy, agency and consent as a means of building resilience in the face of trauma; an (optional) conversation about generalized coping strategies and specific training for dealing with the unique challenges associated with pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period.

Agency, Autonomy, and Your IEP (Workplace Edition) – This senior level seminar would be an excellent option for students across the senior years who are workplace bound. The transition from public school to the workplace and independent living can be a big shock for students who have relied on family and school to provide them with the structures they depend on for emotional self-regulation, system navigation and day-to-day support. We will use checklists to help students identify their own strengths and needs, and create customized learning goals for themselves as they prepare for life after high school. 

Format: Ideally this seminar would take place over two three-hour sessions to allow plenty of time for processing information, breaks, group interactions and emotional processing. 

Key learning objectives for this seminar include: the value of every individual across the abilities perspective, the importance of purpose and meaning for mental health, students’ rights and responsibilities for agency and autonomy in their decision-making and their right to both give and refuse consent.

Agency, Autonomy, and Your IEP (Post-Secondary Edition) – This senior level seminar would be an excellent option for students across the senior years, but particularly for students who are College or University bound. The transition from public school to higher education can be particularly challenging for students with IEP-needs, as they are required to become their own self-advocates. We will use checklists to help students identify their own strengths and needs and create customized learning goals for themselves as they prepare for greater independence as they pursue higher education. 

Format: Ideally this seminar would take place over two three-hour sessions to allow plenty of time for processing information, breaks, group interactions and planning. 

Key learning objectives for this seminar include: the value of every individual across the abilities perspective, funding and support options at the College and University level, taking ownership of your own mental and physical health, students’ rights and responsibilities for agency and autonomy in their decision-making and the right to both give and refuse consent.

 

Agency, Autonomy, and Your Child’s IEP – This unique workshop is designed for parents of secondary school students, to assist them in developing the skills to support their children’s self-advocacy in regards to their disabilities. The process of raising a student with an IEP is often characterized by extreme stress, limited resources and the constant worry that somehow it will never be good enough. By the time students reach the high school years, very few parents have the kind of professional supports required to help them navigate the transition from dependence to independence. As a parent of two teens (one in University, one in high school) with both physical and learning disabilities, this workshop provides parents with practical techniques, tools and strategies for developing the independence skills necessary for their young adults to soar.

Format: one evening seminar per semester, offered on an on-going basis to all parents of secondary school students with IEP’s. In course customization is available to address a range of student goals and outcomes.

Key learning objectives for this seminar include: the importance of parents and caregivers providing steadily increasing supports to foster student independence and self-advocacy throughout the Secondary years in preparation for transition to workplace or Post-Secondary education; an awareness of where their student’s level of independence is in relationship to the overall skills needed for their student to be successful after Secondary School; an opportunity to talk about their fears and hopes for their students with other parents and caregivers dealing with similar issues, and an opportunity to encourage one another in their parenting/caregiving journeys.

 

Universal Design (Humanities Edition) – This senior level seminar would be an excellent fit for HSP3U, HSP3C, HSB4U, HSE3E or HSE4M. Tailored to course and level, this seminar offers real life examples of disability discrimination and universal access. Conversations may include the theoretical – ‘Why is access so important?’; ‘How do I as an able-bodied person benefit from access?’; ‘What is ableism?’; ‘In what ways do I as an able-bodied individual suffer because of a lack of access?’ ‘Is disability fundamentally an individual or a societal problem?’ – to the more practical questions of the history of accessibility in Canada, the concept of Universal Design and its positive impacts throughout the life cycle and across the spectrum of ability, and discussions of access within our medical and social welfare systems. Students will be encouraged to think more critically about barriers in their own day-to-day lives and gain perspective by understanding those barriers in the broader societal context. While the content may sound heavy, these conversations are best had through upbeat and personal story-telling, dialogue and mutual discovery. 

Format: This seminar could be offered as a single, stand-alone session, or could be part of a multi-session unit focused on a range of topics on the theme of disability justice.

Key learning objectives for this seminar include: The goal is to equip and empower students with a deeper understanding of those living with mobility-related disabilities; appreciate and value the contributions of those across the abilities spectrum; and understand their own role as temporarily able-bodied allies in search of access for all.

Universal Design (Technology Edition) – This senior level seminar would be an excellent fit for TDJ3O, TDJ3M, TDJ4O, TDJ4M, TDA3M, TDA4M, THD4M. Tailored to course and level, this seminar offers an opportunity to wrestle with the role of universal design in addressing issues of accessibility in residential, commercial and landscape design. Heather will use her experience navigating the world from her wheelchair, sitting on the Accessibility Advisory Committee for Barrie, consulting on commercial architectural projects and designing a Universally Designed home for herself and her family as a spring-board for these discussions. Students will be encouraged to think through their daily environments through the lens of access (issues such as ramps, bathroom access and elevator use) as well as understand the historical development of the AODA, it’s current requirements and its successes and limitations. Students will be encouraged to think creatively about the solutions they can be part of, such as StopGap and AccessNow as well as encouraging student-led initiatives to improve issues of accessibility and universal design within their own school space. 

Format: This seminar could be offered as a single, stand-alone session, or could be part of a multi-session unit focused on a range of topics on the theme of accessibility in design.

Key learning objectives for this seminar include: The goal is to equip and empower students with a deeper understanding of those living with mobility-related disabilities; gain a greater understanding of the ‘hidden’ issues of accessibility that they might interact with on a daily basis; appreciate and value the contributions of those across the abilities spectrum and therefore understand the value of creating more universally accessible spaces; investigate and consider creative solutions to known but not yet solved (or as yet cost-prohibitive) universal design challenges.

For more information, contact Heather directly.