by Sarah Byrne
The students of Breanna Bedor’s grade 10 English class now know a little bit more about the lives of five remarkable members of our community.
Between March 19th and 21st, the students interviewed Barbra MacInnis, whose son Gillan is an ADHS student with multiple disabilities; Marilyn Grace Anderson, a senior living in Almonte; and Amy MacKenzie, a Developmental Service Worker who supports Dan, an adult who is Deaf/Blind. The students also had the opportunity to meet Gillan and Dan.
The interviews were organized by Ms. Bedor and Jeff Mills of Mills Community Support, and provided an excellent opportunity for students to gain awareness about people whose stories they would not otherwise hear. Millstone investigative reporter Trish Dyer provided a short course in feature writing.
The interviews are part of the ongoing initiative at Mills Community Support to facilitate the awareness and inclusion of all members of our community. “In a world where we are so connected electronically, it’s not ’till we get in the same room and ask each other questions that we find a true depth of communication. It’s then that we find we are more similar than different,” said Mills.
As part of their course work, the grade 10 students will write newspaper articles based on what they heard. “The interviews brought our news writing unit to life and also taught them some important life lessons that they will carry with them forever,” said Ms. Bedor. The students listened attentively and asked some very thoughtful questions. “Some of them actually raced back to the classroom when they found out that they had to sign up for their favourite interview! One student said, ‘I’ve never raced for an assignment before!’ As a teacher, it made me excited to see this kind of energy and enthusiasm in my students.”
All of the interviewees indicated that sharing their stories with the students was a positive experience. “I have never been asked before to speak about the journey Gillan and I have been on,” said MacInnis. “I believe there is a lack of knowledge within the Community to the everyday struggles the elderly and developmentally delayed face. I also believe there is a lack of knowledge as to how much they are capable of as well.” These interviews provided an opportunity for everyone involved to increase their awareness about others in our community.
We are hopeful that students will reflect on the stories they heard, and carry the knowledge of the three speakers’ experiences with them throughout their lives
Barbra and Gillan MacInnis during the interview with ADHS students.
Developmental Service Worker Amy MacKenzie with Dan speaking to ADHS students.
Marilyn Anderson of Almonte tells grade 10 ADHS students her story.