Diversity of Needs
We as humans are definitely not robots or clones. It’s why our program experiences and the ongoing communication that follows fosters exploring the possibilities, discovering potential and acting authentically. This purposeful mission flows from our deep belief in the potential of each individual. Any cohort of participants that we work with obviously is going to contain a diversity of needs. This is something that we really value. We want to meet each of the students (individually and collectively) where they are. Then from this place strive to engage, challenge and inspire, so we can most effectively and holistically support their learning and leadership journey.
“Diversity is the one true thing we all have in common. Celebrate it every day.” — Author Unknown
A few weeks ago a Year 3 teacher wrote on their feedback form, ‘Children actively engaged throughout. Special needs students catered to expertly’. Then last week we received from a Year 4 teacher, ‘Cameron is a gifted teacher who inspires all those around him to be better people. The children had a marvellous experience’. These examples of the feedback we receive give us a chance to be reminded of some of the amazing students we have the privilege to support. Each participant has an important, valuable and authentic contribution to add within a program day. Each participant also shows us, and all those around them during the day, that we all have a diversity of needs, gifts and talents, that we are all in this together and we are all capable of making a difference in our own and others lives.
“We are all different, which is great because we are all unique. Without diversity life would be very boring.” — Catherine Pulsifer
First to come to mind as I reflect is one of the children from the program day referred to by the Year 3 teacher above. A boy, who through being positively supported by his teacher, me as the facilitator and his peers, thrived within the program experience. As I observed where he started the day (inside the hall but behind a wall on some stairs with the teacher beside him), to where he transitioned to (his curiosity leading him to begin to engage with me, the space and other students from a chair now in the program area), to where he ended up as the day progressed (fully engaged and contributing within the program), left I and the teacher involved feeling completely energised. It really is a privilege to be given a glimpse into the complexities that make up a students journey of potential. I’m always left feeling grateful, humbled and inspired.
“We need to give each other the space to grow, to be ourselves, to exercise our diversity. We need to give each other space so that we may both give and receive such beautiful things as ideas, openness, dignity, joy, healing, and inclusion.” — Max de Pree
Next to come to mind is a boy from the program day described above by the Year 4 teacher. It had similarities but also differences to the one described in the last paragraph. The main difference being his expressing to me the journey that the experience provided for him. As we neared the end of the half day program he explained that he was hesitant in the beginning, enjoyed different parts from then on and now wished he could keep working with me for the full day. I sincerely thanked him for everything that he’d brought to the group (in particular some insightful language choices during our final reflection), enthusiastically explained that we’d have the chance to work together again next year when he was in Year 4, as well as the opportunity of full day programs the following two years when he is Year 5 and 6. I look forward to again being left feeling grateful, humbled and inspired by his, as well as each of his peers, thoughts, words and actions in the coming years.
“For success, attitude is equally as important as ability.” – Walter Scott
Lastly is a boy who completely and utterly floored me with his important, valuable and authentic contribution to a program last week. This boy has profound hearing and language challenges but that diversity of needs definitely did not have any bearing on his attitude or involvement throughout. Whilst completing one of my favourite design and make challenges he kept enthusiastically showing and explaining to me what he and his partner were doing (because of his hearing and language challenges I wasn’t able to verbally comprehend but I could definitely feel it and conceptually comprehend). Then what absolutely left me feeling grateful, humbled and inspired was when his hand shot up during our group reflection afterwards. He confidently rose from his seated position and with such passion shared his thoughts (again because of his hearing and language challenges I and the group wasn’t able to verbally comprehend but I and the group could definitely feel it and conceptually comprehend). What a gift it is to be surrounded by such diverse, unique and authentic individuals each and every program day!
“A lot of different flowers make a bouquet.” — Muslim saying