Connecting community partners and students with disabilities

Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School will bring community partners together to help build strong, lasting connections for students with disabilities with the valuable services they provide.

The Community Services Fair will take place April 19th in the school’s Learning Commons between 2-7 p.m. The event is open to the public as well and organizers welcome the community to attend.

“It’s a way for parents of our students, and any parent who has children that are dealing with an exceptional need that would need to access any community services to get more information. We want to provide a one stop shop where they can connect with all of these different community services, rather than having to contact them individually,” said RJ Willms, Inclusive Education Teacher at Lindsay Thurber. “It’s easy to become overwhelmed, so we wanted to make it as easy as possible for our students, their parents and the greater community. We wanted to simplify the whole concept.”

Participating agencies will have tables set up and some will be giving presentations over the course of the event. Agencies include Catholic Social Services, Parkland Community Living and Support Society, Persons with Developmental Disabilities, Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped, Office of the Public Guardian, Alberta Works, Lacombe Action Group, The Hub on Ross Street, Cosmos, Employment Placement Support Services, Central Alberta Residence Society and Living Independently For Equality.

The Community Services Fair will be timed with parent-teacher interviews, so when parents come to the school, the services are all set up. The Trans Vocational Program from Red Deer College will also be on hand to talk with parents and students about their post secondary plans.

For families, life after high school is a big step and can be a concern for many. For a dozen years, schools have been a safe, caring place for students with special needs.

“These services have the potential to make a huge impact on their lives once the students are finished high school,” said Willms. “Here, at school, they are coming to a place where there’s people looking out for them and their best interests and protecting them and helping them learn. And once high school is finished, that can be pretty scary for both the student and their families - going into the unknown, you’re no longer going to a place every single day where there are people making sure you’re on track and doing the right thing. I think it’s important we do our part to ease that transition and make sure they’re as best set up as possible for the future.”

Jennifer Lacourse, Teacher at Lindsay Thurber added, “This has been a huge endeavour that we have worked on putting together over the past few years. It is an opportunity for all students to see the diverse supports the community of Red Deer offers and it will also help answer more questions for students on what they can do after high school and how they can pursue those ideas.”