At the Western Québec School Board, schools and centres are continually developing and trying out new ways to further integrate inclusive practices and strategies. Inclusivity in a classroom, for example, can look like having an Attendant’s support, sensory coping mechanisms to help regulate a student’s nervous system, different types of visuals for communication, transitions, emotional regulation, and more.
All of these ongoing tools and strategies work to increase accessibility for students with not only their learning, but also to support them in being in community with youth their own age. Most commonly, we hear of inclusivity and accessibility as it relates to the classroom and the infrastructure of the school. However, schools and centres also work to extend these values out in different and creative ways.
At Pierre Elliott Trudeau Elementary School (PETES), members of staff host an Accessible Halloween event for their students, as well as for other children from the neighbourhood. We spent some time speaking with their new Project Development Officer, Rick Patricio, to learn more about the event.
The school began hosting Accessible Halloween several years before the pandemic, and after a pause, they were thankfully able to start it back up last year. On the origins of the event, Mr. Patricio elaborates, “Accessible Halloween was discovered through the need to support the school’s diverse community of students – students who may feel nervous or not safe going door to door, students who may not have easy mobility access to walk up steps. There are also kids who may be new to Canada and unsure as to how the tradition works, so it gives them a chance to learn in an environment they are familiar with.”
Rick, along with the help of an incredible crew of teacher, technician, and attendant volunteers, created a welcoming environment for the children to enjoy. Activities included trick-or-treating down the hall, a sensory table, piano playing, arts and crafts stations, and physical activities including a ball toss, and a mini-trampoline centre.
PETES’ Accessible Halloween was a hit, with approximately 40 children and their families taking part throughout the evening. The atmosphere was warm and cheerful, and the children thoroughly enjoyed the activities offered (as well as the candy!). Through all the smiles, laughter, and exchanges between students, staff, and parents, a sense of community was keenly felt. Children who wouldn’t have been able to Trick-or-treat had a safe place to enjoy Halloween thanks to this initiative by this dedicated team of staff volunteers at Pierre Elliott Trudeau Elementary School.