National Inclusive Education Month Commentary #13
By Janet Charchuk, President, PEI People First
I believe it is very important for everyone, no matter what their ability level is, that they are included in education settings. My own experience is that I attended my community school from Kindergarten to grade 12 with my friends.
Some of the things that helped me to be included are: supports when I needed them like Education Assistants or a Resource teacher or peer helpers , adaptations like extra time or using technology, and most importantly friends that I did lots of things with like sports or clubs.
Sometimes things were a challenge but I had people that helped me work it out. One example of this is when I did not make the school basketball team but I stayed on as team manager.
Since high school I have taken some adult education courses and community college part time. I am not finished taking courses yet. I am taking a longer time to complete but that is ok.
Some of my friends have told me that including me helped motivate them to do their best and made them better people. Inclusive education helps people who have challenges but more importantly it helps everybody to have an awesome education experience.
Janet Charchuk is a young woman from Alberton, Prince Edward Island. Janet has Down syndrome but she says that does not define her but is part of who she is. Janet is very involved in the disability community and represented on the Canadian Down Syndrome Society’s VATTA committee since it began in 2005, as well as being the President of People First PEI and representing the province on the national PFC board. Although not yet 30, Janet has been a motivational speaker in Canada and the USA for 10 years. She has spoken to groups such as teachers, early childhood educators, educational assistants, government and non-profit groups. She speaks about her life and experiences to encourage inclusion in schools and communities for all people with disabilities.
In a recent interview, Janet spoke about her passion for helping other people, mentoring, and advocating for different issues in her community – like housing, employment and transportation. Her favourite part is showing people the things she has done that will also help them. Janet recently advocated for a place of her own, and with help and support, is now living in a home she loves. Janet is very active in sports, and has many hobbies and friends, along with working at her dream job at a daycare. She enjoys a full life in Alberton.