Campus for All fosters inclusive post-secondary education

Posted: February 24, 2014 11:00 a.m.

(L to R) Students Shelly Alderson and Kourtney Gorham
(L to R) Students Shelly Alderson and Kourtney Gorham Photo courtesy of Faith Savarese

February is Inclusive Education Month in Canada which offers an opportunity to highlight the University of Regina’s role in fostering inclusive post-secondary education in Saskatchewan.  The University of Regina is home to the only inclusive post-secondary education initiative in the province - Campus For All.  Kourtney Gorham, a student from the Faculty of Education works alongside a student supported by Campus For All and reflects on her experience below:

I have had the privilege to be part of Campus for All at the University of Regina for the last two years – my only regret is that I did not join earlier. Campus for All is an inclusive post-secondary education service for people who have an intellectual disability.  This service enables students to develop audit classes, interact with peer and improve their employment prospects. In my time working alongside a Campus For All student, I have been able to become a classmate, a peer, and a friend. Campus for All has been one of the most valuable university experiences I have had to date.

I am very proud to be part of this inclusive initiative because it is a positive step towards a more inclusive society.  This experience has proven to be very beneficial, as I am studying to be an inclusive educator.  I feel that my own creativity and confidence towards differentiating assignments and presenting subject matter in unique ways has improved.  I learned how to teach the writing process, the reading process and be a guide on the side. Shelly, the student I work with, has also shared her passion for history with me. Her various life experiences challenge my assumptions and perceptions on a daily basis. No matter how hectic my week, Shelly shows me the value of appreciating the small things in life and “stopping to smell the roses.”  I leave every session with a smile on my face and in awe of how hard she works.  

There are not too many things that are better than teaching someone to read and watching their eyes light up as they soar through the passages with ease, but building a relationship of upmost trust and understanding “takes the cake.” Over the last two years, Shelly and I have become very close. Sometimes I think we only work so hard so that we can celebrate over a spinach bowl at the Owl or a cup of coffee at “Timmies.” As I teach her how to write a research paper, she teaches me even more about working with individuals with varying needs. It is this co-learning that makes being part of the Campus for All so worthwhile.

I am proud to be a part of the Campus for All, as I believe it will bridge the gap between our reality and the ideal. Shelly is gaining a positive self-image by being included.  After completing her first essay in 2012 she told me, “I never have written an essay before. I was never taught. But I’m pretty good!”  It is at moments like this when I am proud of what I do and the opportunities that Campus for All provides all learners. There is an anonymous quote that says, “if you give people a chance, everyone has something amazing to offer;” Campus for All provides all learners a chance to be a classmate, a peer, and a friend.  Most importantly, everyone involved is given the opportunity to shine. You too, will only regret that you did not join earlier!