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Disability awareness program changing perspectives


Gardening, cooking and dancing are just some of the fun ways students from St Paul’s College have been living the values of their school by connecting with people at SCOSA this year.

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Their interaction with SCOSA clients is part of a program established in 2013 by St Paul’s APRIM Angela Collins, who wanted to provide a “unique experience” to “challenge young minds and question stereotypes”.

Through the program, Year 11 students meet with SCOSA participants eight times a year, at their Gilles Plains school and also at SCOSA’s hubs at Wynn Vale and Modbury.

They join together through a variety of tutorial sessions and activities – ranging from arts and crafts to working in the garden – and in the process the students broaden their awareness of disabilities by gaining an insight into the challenges many SCOSA clients face.

Student Daniel Mount said he enjoyed getting to know the SCOSA participants because “it provides a different experience for us to understand how the SCOSA community works, how they are treated and how they would like to be treated”.

“They still have the same opportunities we do, just modified slightly to suit their needs,” he said.

Harry Marzano was also grateful for the learning experience.

“You get the opportunity to hear and see how they live and enjoy life. They are very positive about life and it’s inspiring,” he said.

James Papaioannou said the program had given him a “different outlook” and to taught him to not “stereotype those with disabilities”.

Christian Service Learning teacher Maria Girolamo-Corbo said the program reflected the tradition of an Edmund Rice education, by encouraging the students to live the values of ‘faith, relationships, excellence and diversity’.

“It allows our young men to learn about disability from the most authentic source, the clients, and provides understanding and clarity to our students, helping them see the person rather than the disability,” she said.

“This Disability Awareness Unit reflects the teachings of Catholic education nicely through the value of service. The program challenges our students to open up their individual worlds and to open themselves to others in service.”




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