A day to remember June 16 2016

This particular day will go down in my personal history as one that I will deem never to forget.  Call me one of those who frequently becomes emotional over things that others may call trivial but that’s just fine with me.

It all started on a cool fall day in 2010 when I was invited to visit the Grove Community School in Toronto.  I was asked to visit by a group of grade 1 kids and their teachers after they had written a letter to then Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper urging him to take action to make Canadian Government websites accessible; in support of my charter challenge to this Government.

This was a very moving day for me.  At first I was extremely hesitant, but as I sat there that day answering the questions of these youngsters and sharing a snack of mango slices with them as they sat cross legged on the carpeted floor, I could not help but simply marvel at their very intelligent and thought provoking questions.

As I walked out on that day I remembered looking skywards and asking myself if some day a future Prime Minister could not be one of these super kids?

Since then I have kept in touch with this school and with Shannon and Velvet; teachers of these kids and on June 16 2016 I again visited Grove Community at the invitation of Shannon and Velvet.

It was a warm summer’s day as Shannon met me at the doors and escorted me up to the third floor but before entering the classroom Shannon and I had a chance to sit outside in the school’s garden and listen to the school’s choir as they prepared for graduation day the following week.

Shannon and I had chatted about the kids and she had brought me up to date on some of the school’s various advocacy activities.  The sun was warm, the air was fresh, and the fragrance around me was so very gentle and pleasant.

I listened to the young voices as they sang boldly and bravely; sweetly and without any hesitation.  Then it was time to walk to the third floor.

Shannon, Velvet and I sat at the front and waited as the kids entered.  There were other teachers as well and I had to marvel as the young students entered o so quietly and took their places.

There were the grade five and grade six kids at the back and then the grade one, two, and three kids were seated at the front.  Then Velvet started off by introducing me and then it was time for me to say my few words.

Next came the reading of a story from Velvet and then it was time for me to respond to questions.

I soon lost count of how many questions were being asked as I did my best to answer each.  The questions came fast and furious and again; I simply marveled at the types of questions that were being asked by such young vibrant minds.

Most of the questions came from the younger kids and they were such good ones.  Some examples were:  How do you tell time with a digital clock?  How do you decipher colors?  How can you tell landmarks apart if they are similar?  What do you do if you are lost?

This session lasted for about 45 minutes and at the end of it all I received a promise from the kids that they would go out there and be strong advocates for change.

The grade six kids were going to graduate the following week so I knew that I would not see them again.  They were the ones whom I first sat with in 2010.

I had to hold back tears as I said goodbye to them; wonderful ambassadors they were but in the fall I’ll be continuing my friendship with new kids from the Grove Community School.

There is no doubt in my mind that these grade six students are going to be conduits for change.  Change that would enable them to become wise and wonderful advocates for the rights of persons with disabilities.  I thank Shannon and Velvet for having given me this very special opportunity but most of all I am extremely grateful and humbled that they were able to be a part of my life if only for some brief moments.

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