Special Edition Newsletter - January/February 2022

Decorative iconA newsletter to support those in York Region who work with students with exceptional learning strengths & needs.

Monthly Highlights

  • Winter Walk Day and Outdoor Adaptations for Students

Spotlighting Excellence, Achievement & Community

  • Ricky's Success Story with the Work Experience PEAK Program

Important Dates

  • Events and programs from the Learning Disabilities Association of York Region
  • World Down Syndrome Day from the Down Syndrome Association of York Region
  • Ignite Technology Grant
  • Council for Exceptional Children - Yes I Can Awards

Monthly Highlights

Winter Walk Day and Outdoor Adaptations for Students

February 2, 2022 is Winter Walk Day! Walking, wheeling or sledding to school is a great way to improve your physical and mental health. But living in Canada means we often experience cold and snowy winter days. With the appropriate outdoor clothing, winter gear and safe walkways, everyone can enjoy walking, wheeling or sledding to school.

Here are some tips to ensure that walking, wheeling or sledding to school is safe and accessible for everyone:

  • Ensure the route to school is properly paved and cleared of ice or snow.
  • Discuss road safety and plan a safe route crossing at stop lights or stop signs.
  • Use social narratives and visuals to teach students about dressing for winter and outdoor safety. 
  • Practice walking, wheeling or sledding the route so that it becomes familiar.
  • Students who live too far from school can still get active by getting dropped off a block or two away from school and walking, wheeling or sledding the rest of the way.
  • Plan in advance so that proper equipment can be secured. As pictured below, adaptive snow sleds, all-terrain wheelchairs, and a hippocampe wheelchair are available at the Outdoor Education Centres and may be available for sign out. Sizing and suitability of an item for a student is assessed by the PT/OT therapist assigned to the school.
image of an adaptive snow sled, an all-terrain wheelchair and a hippocampe

Ontario Active School Travel shares some awesome materials for preparing for Winter Walk Day. Visuals for dressing for cold weather (chilly, cold, extreme cold) can help students to build independence in getting ready on their own. Make it fun and engaging for all by playing games on your way to school such as Winter Walk Day I-Spy.


Spotlighting Excellence, Achievement & Community

Ricky's Success Story with the Work Experience PEAK Program

Ricky is in his second year at PEAK North and has shown tremendous personal growth.  Ricky started his first work placement at Giant Tiger. He works in the grocery department and his duties include stocking shelves, rotating stock using best before dates, collecting carts, both inside and outside, initiating and maintaining COVID-19 cleaning protocols and, of course,  customer service. 

Ricky’s hard work, willingness to learn and ability to be productive, efficient and effective in his tasks was quickly recognized and he was offered a part time, paid position.  We are so proud of him!   Ricky has started a second placement at Milestone’s Restaurant in the kitchen, portioning a variety of foods.  Ricky is able to work independently and efficiently. His attention to detail shines in this role as every task is so precise and detail oriented.  He is organized and takes pride in every task that he is given.  He loves being part of a kitchen team! 

Ricky working at Milestone's and Giant Tiger

We asked Ricky what he likes best about Work Experience and what skills he has learned. Here's what he said!

Question:  What do you like best about the Work Experience Program?  

Ricky's Response:  "In my opinion, the many things I like best about the work experience program is being able to try out new things at different workplaces.  Starting my new placement at Giant Tiger was something interesting because it had a major variety of tasks available for me to do, than any other workplace.  For example, restocking products, watering plants, providing customer service, retrieving and sanitizing carts, and defrosting bunkers.  In addition, work experience has helped improve my confidence to communicate with others, and has helped to increase my production to get all tasks finished on that day.  When I heard that I was offered a paid part-time position for all my hard work, I never felt so surprised to be noticed that quick at my new placement."

Question:  What skills have you learned that make you successful at work?

Ricky's Response: "Overall, the skills that I've learned from my experiences are setting both alarms and reminders on my phone.  This skill has been very useful for me because it has helped me keep up to my daily everyday tasks.  For example, my first set alarm is my morning wake up alarm at 7:00 a.m.  Then my second set alarm is my self-screening phase at 7:05 a.m. Finally, by the time I'm dressed and ready, my third alarm is for my taxi cab reminder to be outside at 7:48 a.m.  Next, the second skill that I've learned is using my notebook to record my working schedule and keep track of all my working hours.  This is a very useful skill for me to have because it helps save me time from relying on my memory to figure out what tasks I've done at work."

Ricky is a great example of everything the PEAK Program represents!


Important Dates


Learning Disabilities Association of York Region

Inspiration Session

  • Event Date:  February 16th at 7pm ET
  • In partnership with Youth Culture Inc. and LDAYR, LDAYR Ambassador, Anthony Savonarota, shares his journey and what diversity and inclusion means to him.
  • For more information, and to register for this free event, please check out the LDAYR Inspiration Session webpage

SOAR Transitions Online

  • The foundation of this program will help participants ages 13 to 16 identified with Learning Disabilities and/or ADHD to develop life skills to succeed academically and vocationally. The participant will gain an understanding of their strengths and areas of need as well as a better understanding of their LD and/or ADHD.
  • Elementary Program and Secondary Programs available (4-6 participants) 
  • Cost: $150 (subsidies available upon request)
  • For more information, and to register, please visit the LDAYR SOAR Transitions webpage

March Break Camp

  • Event Date: March 14th - 18th, 2022 from 9am - 4pm
  • Designed for students with LD and/or ADHD to meet new friends, work on social skills and engage in fun games and activities.
  • Cost: $400 for members/$450 for non-members
  • For more information, contact Banke at 905-884-7933 x5 or email banke.leimu@ldayr.org


Down Syndrome Association of York Region

World Down Syndrome Day

World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD), March 21st, is a global awareness day which has been officially observed by the United Nations since 2012.  The Province of Ontario proclaimed March 21st as Ontario Down Syndrome Day in 2016.  

To celebrate this event, the Down Syndrome Association of York Region (DSAYR) will be promoting several activities, including:

  • York Region Municipalities flag raising and proclamations
  • Virtual resources sent to YRDSB & YCDSB to be shared in classrooms
  • Participation in a Virtual Global Dance Party
  • Rock your mismatched socks

We will also ask you, our esteemed educators, to help us raise awareness and support inclusivity during this celebration.  We will be posting an inspirational video and hope you will share it with your colleagues and classes.  Watch for more information to be sent in March.

Thank you in advance for your support in your schools, your classrooms, your communities.  For further information, please contact us at 416-410-DOWN or toll free at 1-800-649-3696.  Or you can email us at info@dsayr.ca. ​


YRDSB Ignite Technology Grant

The Ignite Technology Grant is open to Elementary & Secondary students with all types of SEA technology such as Read&Write, Braille Notetaker, or Boardmaker. To complete the application, students (with teacher support) will create an educational & awareness-building event and/or technology training event for their school/community. They could win $480 towards their event and the purchase of technology for their school. Grade 12 students graduating in June 2022 can apply for the Ignite Graduation Grant to win $1000 towards the purchase of new technology.

For more information, and to apply, visit the Ignite Technology Grant page


Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) - Yes I Can Awards 

The 2022 Yes I Can Awards are now open for nominations! The Yes I Can Awards honour children and youth with exceptionalities who shine. CEC has recognized the accomplishments of thousands of students since the program started in 1982.

In York Region, a joint CEC Awards Ceremony is held each spring with the York Region District School Board, York Region Catholic District School Board and the Ontario Council for Exceptional Children. Together, we celebrate the accomplishments of students, while recognizing the educators, staff and parents who teach, support and inspire students with exceptionalities.

Nominations are open until March 4th, 2022.  For more information about the awards, please check out the Yes I Can Awards video on YouTube.


Special Education Advisory Committee (SEAC) Meetings

The SEAC meets on the first Thursday of every month. All are welcome to attend and observe. For more information about SEAC and our SEAC members, please visit the SEAC webpage.


Upcoming SEAC Meetings

MeetingDate and timeLocation
Dismantling Anti-Black Racism Priority 4: YRP Involvement in Schools Review March 3, 2022 at 7:00 p.m.Virtual meeting 
2022-2023 Budget Overview & SEAC Input into Budget Consultation ProcessApril 7, 2022 at 7:00 p.m.Virtual meeting 


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