Like many Grade 9 students, Kiera was nervous about going into high school. And even though she lives with a disability, her worries were the same as any other teenager – will I be accepted for who I am and make friends?
“I have cerebral palsy,” said Kiera. “I was really scared and nervous about how I would be treated, especially by people in other communities.”
Luckily for Kiera and 45 other Grade 9 students from Southeastern HRM, the transition to high school was made a little easier with Global Tours – a United Way Halifax-funded program run by the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Halifax. The program is an innovative partnership between youth, schools, community organizations and residents that allows youth to meet each other in a positive environment to foster trust, increase awareness of diverse community cultures, reduce stereotypes, connect with adult mentors and address neighbourhood issues.
Grade 9 youth and Grade 12 facilitators spend three days together, touring each community that feeds into Cole Harbour and Auburn Drive high schools, facilitating and participating in workshops and hearing from motivational community speakers.
Kiera especially enjoyed the speakers from North Preston and Cherry Brook and made lots of connections. Of course, she said high school still had its bad days, but seeing those familiar faces in the hallways made it better.
This year, Kiera returned to the Global Tours program as one of the Grade 12 youth facilitators. During the facilitator training, Boys and Girls Club staff were surprised when Kiera volunteered to introduce one of the speakers during the tours. They said when the time came for the introduction – in front of almost 80 people – you could see that she was shy but her confidence was building with each word spoken.
When asked what prompted her to raise her hand and volunteer for that role, Kiera’s answer is simple: “I wanted everyone to see what a disabled person can do. I know I can’t do everything, but there is so much I can do and I think it’s so important for people to see that.”
Kiera absolutely loved her experiences with the Boys and Girls Club’s Global Tours program and she’s proud to have provided a lesson on inclusion to the other participants. This fall, Kiera will be embarking on another life change as she attends college.
I wanted everyone to see what a disabled person can do. I know I can’t do everything, but there is so much I can do and I think it’s so important for people to see that.