Selkirk College Students Help Build an Inclusive Community

Bob Hall
By Bob Hall
March 11th, 2016

Sometimes you have to fight to change the world. Sometimes you have to talk to make a difference.

And sometimes you can change it—just a little—by having fun.

The students of the Selkirk College Classroom and Community Support Worker Program (CCSW) will be doing just that on Monday, March 21, with the 11th annual Celebration of Diverse Ability.

“Luminosity: The True Brightness Found in Our Differences” is a two-hour event with displays, movie clips, singing, dancing, and interactive games designed to increase awareness and challenge ideas about disability, and individuals living with disability.

“Our goal is to get people inspired to include everyone in our communities, no matter how they move through this world,” says Annick Trobak, a student in the CCSW Program. “We want them to see the gifts an inclusive community can bring forward.”

The free event, being held at The Pit on the Castlegar Campus, comes at a time of changing attitudes towards providing services to people living with disability.

“We are trying to shift a paradigm in community thinking,” says Trobak. “For many years, services were offeredto folks with differences. Then we changed our thinking, and we were providing them for people. Now we talk about providing service with persons living with different ability. That is, we now focus on person-centred support.”

Students in the nine-month CCSW certificate program learn skills to help them work with people with differing ability in both classroom and community contexts. As part of the Human Services Department, the CCSW certificate can be a prerequisite for entry into the college’s Child and Youth Care Specialty Diploma. The program combines theoretical work and practical skills development for graduates to assist people as educational assistants in the schools or with life skills, recreation, residential living and employment supports.

The event changes every year, as students in the planning class are given the task of organizing this event. They are divided into four groups, and each team takes on specific tasks. They hold the celebration event every March, believing that reaching out to the wider community is also an important act for building an inclusive world.

“We hope this event helps bring awareness to what should be the next step – recognizing and appreciating the glorious contributions that can come from folks who move differently through the world,” says Trobak.

Sometimes that change isn’t hard to achieve. People often just need the opportunity to be exposed to different ideas about ability and to interact with persons living different experiences in life, she says.

“We often quote [American author] Jean Houston: ‘Change the story and you change perception; change perception and you change the world’,” she says. “By changing perceptions about ability, what people can or cannot do, we offer everyone greater choices in their lives, real choices.”

They’ll do this by providing booths and displays, and interactive games. There will be free refreshments and food. People will sing, dance, draw, try getting around in a wheelchair, meet service animals, and experience how different abilities impact a person’s experience of the world.

Work on the event begins months in advance, and always generates a lot of interest in the community. Last year, more than 200 people participated in the activities.

“People want to make sure they do not miss this. Participants contact us in September to make sure they can be part of an event that happens in March,” she says.

The free event runs from noon to 2 p.m., Monday, March 21 at the Castlegar Campus and is open to everyone in the community.

Categories: EducationGeneral