LEAD, which stands for Lived Experiences Around Disability, is part of our Peer Support Program and delivers innovative presentations about what it is like to live with a disability to students (K-12) in Victoria. This program is delivered by persons with disabilities who have spent a lengthy period of time navigating their daily lives within their abilities. These speakers work in partnership with students with disabilities at each school, giving the students an opportunity to anonymously (via the speaker) or personally share what they have experienced at the school in terms of social and environmental barriers.

Delivering LEAD to the community, particularly to youth, will help decrease misconceptions and stereotypes around persons with disabilities in the community. This has the potential to lead to a more inclusive environment, where persons with disabilities could become better recognized as fully integrated citizens.

More than 1 in 10 youth in Canada have one or more disabilities, and youth with disabilities are at a higher risk of not being in school or employed. Connected with this is the fact that there is a distinct lack of understanding and an abundance of misconceptions surrounding disabilities. Youth face systemic barriers and an increasingly uphill battle when it comes to how disabilities are viewed and understood by their peers. The response we offer to the barriers students with disabilities face is important and it starts with speaking to the students directly and presenting them with alternative ways of thinking about disability.

What are teachers saying about LEAD?

“Thank you very much for today’s presentations. The students said they really enjoyed the presentation and many were even practicing some of their sign language this afternoon. All the staff commented as well on how great their presentation was. We really appreciate you taking the time to come talk to us today!” Tracey, Grade 5 Teacher at Tillicum Community School

“As an educator of 15 years, I have seen many presentations and this one has been the most interesting and inspiring program for myself and for my students. This program plays a crucial role in helping children and adults harness empathy, which in turn, helps to manage complex, cooperative situations. These are crucial skills children need because it motivates them to
act positively on behalf of others.” Sunny, Vice-Principal at McKenzie Elementary School

What have students said they learned from LEAD?

“One step goes a long way to make way for others.” Grade 4 student

“Tell others to be kind, not mean.” Grade 4 student

“I learned that money has Braille on it.” Grade 4 student

“I learned that lots of people have disabilities and that just because they do things differently doesn’t mean that their way is wrong.” Grade 5 student

“I learned how to help and treat people if they have a disability.” Grade 5 student

“I learned that if you want to help someone with a disability you should ask them if they want help first.” Grade 5 student

“Don’t judge people and be helpful when they need help.” Grade 5 student

“I can teach my mom and dad about sign language.” Grade 5 student

“I learned that having a disability is not bad.” Grade 5 student

“I learned that people with a disability live the same life as people who don’t have a disability.” Grade 4 student

“I learned person first language…I can teach someone person first language and asking permission before you help someone.” Grade 5 student