BY HARNOOR GILL
Grade 11 student
Christ The King Catholic Secondary
EVERY year, the Student Senate of the Halton Catholic District School Board hosts a leadership conference for a select few students to attend at a designated high school in the district. As a Grade 11 Senator for Christ the King Catholic Secondary School, I had the opportunity to plan a workshop alongside other senators for this year’s leadership conference. The leadership conference focused on the theme of “Our Similar Differences” which was designed for student leaders to realize that we are all different for a reason. Whether or not a person’s race, ethnicity, gender or physical shape fits the “norm”, this does not mean they should be made fun of. The conference’s set workshops ranged from expanding on being different while not being able to communicate with others well due to becoming visually impaired or deaf. Some workshops consisted of appreciating our differences as well as not making fun of others.
The workshop my school’s senators and I came up with was the one dedicated to raising awareness on accessibility. I would like to stress that without the support of our vice principal and administrators on the Student Senate, this would never have happened. Our group started the workshop with the use of an icebreaker known as “Step over the line”. The way this icebreaker worked was that there was a line on the ground for people to step over if they agreed on the statement being said. If not, the person would stay in the same spot. The overall goal of this activity was to allow for us to break the ice and allow for the participating people in the group to become comfortable and notice the similarities and differences we all inherited.
In order to fully emphasize the struggles people face while being visually impaired, we created an obstacle course to be gone through. In groups of two, one person acted as a guide while the other one was blindfolded. The task was to go through the obstacle course successfully with the help of communicating with the guide. To make it even harder, some of us ran around to create distracting noises because in the real world, a visually impaired person never experiences silence in public. This went on until both people in a group were able to experience the other person’s role because it can be tough to be visually impaired during a course but it is also hard to communicate with a visually impaired person as a guide as well. I felt that this really allowed the members of the workshop to develop a strong respect for the visually impaired and the challenges that these individuals go through.
Just before lunch, the workshops wrapped up and it was time to get ready for the panelist discussion. This was dedicated to increasing awareness and stimulating conversation on the topic of our similar differences. The members on the panelist discussed the hardships that are felt being of a different race, religion or gender. At the end of the day, it is of the utmost importance to know that it is our duty to respect each other’s differences, as our differences are what make us unique.
On a final note, I would like to encourage all high school students out in the world to take the time to become a part of the school at the board level. I stress this because I sought the opportunity to become a part of the greater board and Student Senate and that not only allowed me to do that but it also helped to run a workshop for other student leaders in the various schools. Therefore, connect with your school and connect with your teachers because there are endless opportunities for youth in the world.