Special Edition Newsletter - March/April 2024

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

Content of this Newsletter

Monthly Highlights

  • World Down Syndrome Day
  • Celebrate the Spectrum- Autism Acceptance Month
  • Life After High School
  • World Mental Health Day

Spotlighting Excellence, Achievement & Community

  • AurAbilities
  • Danila Leads Learning on Google Read and Write

Important Dates

  • Council for Exceptional Children
    • Yes I Can Awards 
  • Learning Disabilities Association of York Region
    • Annual Parent Conference
    • Social Skills Summer Camp 
    • Jump Math and Reading Rocks
    • Dress Loud Day
    • Hearing Heroes Hangout


Monthly Highlights

World Down Syndrome Day  

On March 21st, schools across York Region celebrated World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD) by wearing colourful & fun mismatched socks. WDSD is annually celebrated on the 21st day of the 3rd month to signify the uniqueness of the triplication (trisomy) of the 21st chromosome for individuals with Down Syndrome. 

World Down Syndrome Day. Bulletin Board with colour mismatched socks done by students. A second picture of students' feet showing their mismatched socks.

“The 2024 World Down Syndrome Day celebrations in York Region had a huge reach.  We had 4 municipalities hold flag raising ceremonies, with Mayors and Council Members present, as well as representatives from the Down Syndrome Association of York Region (DSAYR) speaking on behalf of this year's message to #EndTheStereotypes. We also had 3 other Municipalities raise our flag, and light local monuments in Blue and Yellow, in honour of this global day of awareness.  These events reached citizens in all areas of York Region, from Keswick to Vaughan to Markham.

Schools in York Region did a fantastic job celebrating this day.  Social media was filled with photos of "RockYourSocks" events where schools held a mismatched sock day to "celebrate differences". We saw photos of our Rock Your SOCKS posters coloured by students and hanging on school walls, we heard of educational videos being shown in classrooms, and we saw schools selling sweets to celebrate the occasion. We are thrilled to see all of this support and learning opportunities being given in our schools.

Locally, the DSAYR held several fun events for families to gather and celebrate together.  We held a Trampolining Party simultaneously in 2 trampoline parks in York Region, and we also had a group of over 50 DSAYR members attend a Toronto Marlies game on the weekend, in celebration of this great day!

On behalf of the DSAYR, we thank the YRDSB for their support, and hope to see continued efforts to bring awareness of the abilities of people with Down syndrome in our schools and in our communities.”

- DSAYR Committee


Celebrate the Spectrum   

On Tuesday, April 2, YRDSB students, staff and community members from our valued partner organizations joined together at The Education Centre Aurora to raise the flag to Celebrate the Spectrum for World Autism Day on April 2, 2024. 

World Autism Day. Two group photos in front of the flag pole with the World Autism Day Flag.

We all share a common goal - to support our students with Autism (ASD). Together, we support our learners with ASD by understanding and valuing their individual strengths and needs, and by building learning environments where they matter and belong. 

During the month of April, YRDSB will be Celebrating the Spectrum for World Autism Acceptance Month. Throughout the month, we will focus on the commonalities we share and the beauty of diversity. We encourage all schools to share how they #CelebrateTheSpectrum by tagging us on Twitter @YRDSB_SS

Please visit the Autism Ontario Celebrate the Spectrum website for events, activities and information on how you can Celebrate the Spectrum throughout the month of April.


Life After High School

On February 28th, 2024,  the YRDSB hosted the annual "Life After High School Transition Evening," providing information on the journey from high school to post-secondary education. The event provided guidance for Deaf and Hard of Hearing students and their families, offering essential support and direction as they plan for their future educational transition.

The evening featured a series of student presenters who shared their personal experiences navigating this transition period. Their experience offered invaluable insights into the challenges, triumphs, and lessons learned during this pivotal phase of life. From choosing the right path to adjusting to the academic rigors of post-secondary institutions, their experience resonated deeply with the students, providing both reassurance and practical advice.

The presence of representatives from Colleges and Universities further enriched the evening, offering families a comprehensive glimpse into the educational opportunities available beyond high school and an insight into the Accessibility Services and their programs.

The Life After High School Transition Evening served as more than just an information session—it was a testament to shared experiences, collective support, and student determination to navigate the transition after High School. Families and students departed with newfound insights and renewed confidence and optimism for the future.

Four images. Top right image - audience watching presentation. Top left - Student hosts speaking in front of the podium. Bottom left - Post secondary partners at their information booth. Bottom right - Speaker in front of podium with sign language interpreter beside.


World Mental Health Day

YRDSB will recognize World Mental Health Day on April 17, 2024 as a crucial reminder of the importance of prioritizing mental health and well-being in our lives. On this World Mental Health Day, we encourage students and families to explore and adopt some of the Grab and Go Resources from School Mental Health Ontario. 

Check out the April YRDSB Mental Health Newsletter for information, activities, events and resources. Check out their newsletter to find out more on how to embrace the Winter and promote mental health. 


Spotlighting Excellence, Achievement & Community


Exciting things are happening at Bill Hogarth S.S. The Intensive Community Class, also known as the Helpful Hornets, recently launched their AurAbilities Business, which was funded through the YRDSB Entrepreneurship Grant. The name AurAbilities was developed by the students to highlight their amazing auras and abilities. Their first product was customized bath salts that help you emit the aura you want to share with others. All of this product was developed by the class with their community partner Catherine Chambers from Let's Make it Richmond Hill including the custom bath salt, design packaging and labels utilizing their literacy, math, creativity and technology skills. As part of their school’s Black Excellence Career Fair, students met black entrepreneurs and presented their business to them. 

AurAbilities - Students in front of their product table at the career fair. Another image of the product with bath salts in bottles. Last photo, picture of student filling containers with bath salts.

The class hopes that their business can be a platform to support other community classes in learning how to use their auras and abilities towards meaningful projects. 


Danila Leads Learning on Google Read & Write

This year, Thornhill PS received the Ignite Technology Grant to support Liam and Danila’s clubs and events to promote assistive technology use in their school. Danila recently completed his student-led learning of Google Read & Write for other students. In his learning session of Google Read & Write, Danila invited participants in Grades 3-8, for an opportunity to learn and practice most aspects of the program. He shared videos and provided examples on “Predictions,” “Dictionary,” “Picture Dictionary,” “Text-to-Speech,” “Talk & Type,” “Translator” (including how to change the Language!), “Highlighters,” “Collecting Highlights” in Google Docs, as well as “Rewordify.” Through discussions on when each aspect of the program could support learning in the classroom and opportunities for the students to ask questions, everyone was excited to learn more about how to use this program! The learning session provided a reminder that all students can benefit from using Google Read & Write in meaningful ways.  

Liam and Danila holding their schools Ignite Grant Cheque. Another photo of Danila beside a smartboard showing another student Google Read and Write.


Important Dates

Council for Exceptional Children

Yes I Can Awards 

  • The Yes I Can Awards honour children and youth with exceptionalities who shine. The 2024 Yes I Can Awards will be celebrated on May 29th at 4:30 p.m at Richmond Green Secondary School. 



Learning Disabilities Association of York-Simcoe (LDAYS)

Annual Parent Conference

LDAYS is partnering with other LDA chapters to host their 5th Annual Parent Conference. The conference will take place on the evening of May 29, at 6 p.m., virtually via Microsoft Teams. This is a free event.

This conference will give caregiver's the chance to better understand their child(ren)'s diagnosis of ADHD and/or LD through the challenges and experiences that come with these diagnoses firsthand. Keynote speakers, LDAYS Ambassadors- Angelica Goncalves and Anthony Savonarota, will be incorporating helpful tips and resources.

Topics being presented at the conference include - Building Harmony: Your Guide to Ending ADHD Chaos in Your Family, Bright Beginnings: Creating an Education Savings Plan for Your Family, and Parent Advocacy: How to Get Your Child’s School to Listen. 

Complete Online Registration


Social Skills Summer Camp 

This program focuses on the social development skills of children 6-12 years of age. Social coaches will work with students on a variety of social skills in a fun and interactive format. The program content is based on the PEERS® curriculum for social skills training. This summer camp is designed for Children with a Primary Diagnosis of Learning Disabilities and/or ADHD. Skills learned include introducing oneself, ways to make friends, responding to teasing, being a good winner and loser, dealing with emotions, problem solving, relaxations, and self-esteem. Activities may include outdoor swimming, nature walks, arts and crafts and more!

Dates and Locations: Newmarket and Richmond Hill

  • July 8th-12th and July 22th-26th

  • August 12th-16th and August 19th-23rd

For information contact Sara Carnovale at 905-884-7933 x 3 or email sara.carnovale@ldays.org.

Complete Online Registration 


Jump Math and Reading Rocks 

Jump Math will be running in person launching May 2nd at the LDAYS Richmond Hill office every Tuesday and Thursday and will be 8 weeks of interactive learning and engaging activities designed to strengthen mathematical skills!

Reading Rocks is starting virtually July 9th and running through August 27th. It is running every Tuesday and Thursday with engaging sessions to help students improve their reading skills and set them up for success into the new school year! With registration opening March 27th, don't miss out on our early bird fee to save $30 off!

Both Jump Math and Reading Rocks are structured intervention programs designed to support students in building their foundational skills. Both programs are designed for students with a primary diagnosis of a learning disability and/or ADHD.

For information or to enroll, contact Tori Bekolay at 905-884-7933 x 4 or email tori.bekolay@ldays.org.



Celebrate Dress Loud Day in May 

May is Speech and Language Awareness Month and VOICE for Children who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing will celebrate Dress Loud Day… all May long! VOICE invites all schools to Dress Loud any day in May to raise support and awareness. Wear your loudest, wildest and wackiest outfits! Visit the VOICE website for more information.

Hearing Heroes Hangout

"Hearing Heroes Hangout" is VOICE’s Youth Mentorship program that provides a great way to connect with other teens living with hearing loss. The virtual monthly gathering hosted by two Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH) university students is filled with fun games and socializing. Email teens@voicefordeafkids.com to RSVP and join the next session at 4:30 pm on Friday, April 5th. Follow @voice4deafkids on Instagram to learn about future events. 


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

The meeting dates for the remainder of the year are set out below. 

  • May 2, 2024

  • May 30, 2024 

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