Teacher Annette VandenBrink went above and beyond in creating an impact on her 75 grade 5 students. Annette used many of the Rick Hansen Foundation School Program resources to create an impactful lesson plan to teach students about accessibility and inclusion.
“This is the first year we had time to create a two week unit on disabilities, inclusion, accessibility, and barriers in relation to our Body Systems unit,” says Annette.
Each year, Annette’s students research and prepare a biography, PowerPoint, and speech about a difference maker in the world. This year, six of her students focused on Rick Hansen. They used the website and some of the materials in Rick Hansen's Story section from the School Program.
“My goal was to change attitudes and behaviours toward people with disabilities and replace fear and judgement with knowledge, respect, and appropriate ways to support,” explained Annette “Our theme was ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’ from Psalm 139: 13-16. We covered the following disabilities: mobility and paralysis, vision, hearing, neurological and learning (i.e. dyslexia, autism). It was a powerful unit. The students were very engaged, interested, and shared many of their experiences
A particularly powerful message came from a student with hearing loss, who taught a lesson, with support, on hearing and hearing loss.
"This unit changed the thinking of many students and created increased support for students with disabilities in our own school community,” says Annette.
Annette also invited a Rick Hansen Ambassador to speak to the students.
“[The Ambassador] gave an awesome presentation. The students enjoyed his personality, especially his sense of humour. They were inspired by his story to have more confidence in themselves when they meet a challenge in their life, and realize that people with disabilities can accomplish more things than they thought possible,” says Annette. “It stretched our thinking and enriched our conversations during our unit on Body Systems.”
Annette’s story is just one of many who have had great success using the Rick Hansen Foundation School Program materials in their classrooms or schools. Here are some of the resources she used:
- Abilities in Motion 3-5 Toolkit
- Pre-K/K -2 Toolkit
- Abilities in Motion 6-7 Toolkit (identity labels Lesson 1 and 2)
- The “What's Your T10, 11, and 12?” lesson
- The Afternoon Event activities (adapted to her teaching situation)
- Differentiated Instruction Strategies