Jacki Barks | CLPS Bursary Recipient 2011

On an annual basis Community Living Parry Sound (CLPS) offers a bursary to a graduating Parry Sound High School student who has worked to promote community inclusion and remove barriers often faced by people with disabilities. The recipient for 2011 was Jacki Barks.

Born and raised in Parry Sound, Jacki learned early to accept and embrace the diversity of people. She states “My parents raised me to accept people for who they are. I think they are proud of me now for doing work that is meaningful and makes a difference. This is not typical work for people my age.”

As a young girl at William Beatty Public School, she remembers noticing the differences in other students and feeling badly for those who were not included or accepted in the mainstream. Jacki was part of the mainstream and participated fully in school, not sure how to support those who were not accepted. As she matured throughout her high school years she found ways to do just that. She began by obtaining summer employment in 2010 with CLPS as inclusion staff at the YMCA Summer Camp. In this role, she was assigned to a child who would typically face barriers in camp to support and assist him/her to participate fully and be accepted. During her 2010-2011 school year she applied to be a Respite Contractor with CLPS in hopes of earning some money over the school year while doing a job that might make a difference for a child. Since the spring of 2011 she has worked with about six different families providing respite services. She has continued to work with one family on a more consistent basis over the summer months. During the summer of 2011 she was also employed by CLPS as a camp counsellor in the Arts and Movement Day Camp through the month of July. This is a fully inclusive camp open to all students in the Parry Sound area, providing a variety of art and physical activities to participants.

Today Jacki is preparing to forge ahead with her post-secondary education at Nipissing University where she will be studying Psychology, with aspirations of becoming a Child Psychologist. She feels that her experience in working with children has helped her to not only to obtain the bursary, but to get accepted to the program of her choice and have a better chance of obtaining employment in the same field in the North Bay area.

As Jacki looks back on high school she believes that students in segregated classes would benefit from a better balance of necessary educational programming and social opportunities. “I understand that some students need modified educational programs but everyone should be included equally in social situations” she says. She muses that it might be helpful if students in the mainstream had more opportunity to be involved in the segregated programs to build relationships and greater understanding of diversity.

When asked about her feelings about the bursary she says “It is really nice to be recognized for my efforts in promoting inclusion.” CLPS is very appreciative of all of Jacki’s advocacy and support and wishes her the very best in her endeavours. Her passion and determination will be of great benefit in her future.

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