I can’t begin to explain how being a part of the Brampton-Caledon Community Living (BCCL) has opened my eyes to a whole new perspective. An experience I wish I could share with everyone.
I remember when I first started at the center, I was nervous because I constantly felt like I didn’t want to say the wrong things or offend anyone, as if the individuals there were so different from me. I thought there would be specific or special ways to act, talk and carry myself. I later realized that this was because I grew up internalizing the societal stigma towards individuals with disabilities. Being at the center helped me overcome these preconceived notions.
I had the opportunity to work closely with the staff at BCCL, who are all caring and compassionate people. They were model teachers who have taught me to be inclusive and understanding. They have also taught me to question and deconstruct beliefs that are normalized in society.
As I got to know the individuals at the center, I have learned that their disabilities are not what stop them from reaching their unique dreams and aspirations, but it’s the societal structures that do. I now see people for their capabilities, regardless of their disabilities. This is not to say that we’re all equal or the same, but that we’re all different, and we all have different capabilities
Not only have these experiences taught me what a truly inclusive environment looks like, they have also helped open up a new way of looking and understanding the world. This learning will help me bring new attitudes and conceptions into my classroom and in the areas that I will teach. All in all, the learning, perspectives and relationships that I have developed here at this center have been one of the most valuable experiences since they have helped reshape my thinking and grow as an individual.
Melanie Ha, BEd student York University, Jan 2017