The first STRIVE Symposium was a stunning success, reaching out to students with learning disabilities, parents / guardians and GECDSB teaching and support staff. Hundreds of Grade 7, 8 & 9 students, representing every school in the Board, enjoyed workshops and activities which promoted self-advocacy, enhancing their ability to have a say in their own educations. Parents / guardians and staff heard from speakers who provided information and advice about supporting students with learning disabilities.
Everyone began the day with an entertaining keynote address from Lesley Andrew, an accomplished singer and entertainer who describes herself as "learning disabled". She spoke of valuing differences and not accentuating disabilities. Her advice to students was to "be responsible for your time", to organize their lives and keep on going...don't get caught in the feeling of failure". The best advice Andrew had for parents / guardians was "not doing everything for them...be supportive and provide a safe place for them to try".
After that encouraging start students went to their workshops on technology, personal well-being, pathways and self-advocacy for even more inspiration. Zach Sabga, a grade 11 student at Sandwich Secondary and Pierce Lamonte, who's in Grade 10 at Sandwich (pictured, right) provided a great deal. They led a discussion on self-advocacy and shared their experiences and successes when they spoke up about their educational needs.
Organizers have already begun discussing the possibility of reprising the event next year.
More pictures from Strive 2018 are posted below.