Last spring, as part of a pilot project, students from Alton Public School and adults from Community Living Dufferin came together to learn, sing and perform.
"At Alton, we're very proud of our students for being caring, inclusive and accepting of all students within our school day and to provide them with the experience to be involved within the community outside our school walls is a great opportunity," says Laurie Johnson, principal at Alton.
The partnership began during the 2017-18 school year to share a common passion of the arts, along with building an understanding of acceptance and inclusion between the two groups.
Community Living Dufferin is a local agency that supports people who have developmental disabilities and ensure they have an equal opportunity to achieve the lives they want. As part of the initiative, the grade 6 students and adults met four times throughout the year—twice at the school and twice at the Community Living facility—to participate in team building activities, such as creative dance, music and drama.
The shared love of the arts that allowed performers of different ages, abilities and experiences to come together as human beings and make life-changing connections.
"This project celebrates community and inclusion on so many levels. The participants span more than five decades, passing on a love of the arts from one generation to the next. The videographers are Mayfield Secondary School graduates in the Regional Arts Program. We, the participants, are all changed by this experience—a testament to what the arts can do and be," says Jane Ohland Cameron, director with Community Living Dufferin.
The partnership has been a collaborative effort between staff, students and adults at Alton and Community Living Dufferin to help students grow as accepting and inclusive citizens by giving them the opportunity to experience the common threads and gifts that all people have.
"In this case, it's the shared love of the arts that allowed performers of different ages, abilities and experiences to come together as human beings and make life-changing connections," says Laurie Moore, a teacher at Alton. "This connects with our goal to have all of our students be successful, happy, participating citizens of the 21st century while achieving high academic goals."
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Credit: video filmed and edited by Geoff Cameron and Greg Cameron, both graduates of the Regional Arts Program at Mayfield Secondary School.