King's student named to provincial Special Needs Youth Advisory Committee
August 10, 2015
By Nicole Bullock
King’s Social Work student, Nicole Turner has been appointed to the Special Needs Youth Advisory Committee for Ontario by Irwin Elman, a well-known Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth. The purpose of the committee is to create a report for provincial governmental bodies on how Ontario can become more inclusive and supportive of young people living with disabilities. Furthermore, in the near future, the committee will be facilitating campaigns to debunk myths surrounding individuals with disabilities.
Meeting once a month at the Office of the Provincial Advocate of Children and Youth (Irvin Elman) in downtown Toronto, the committee’s goals include assisting our society in becoming inclusive to all, regardless of individual abilities. In addition to the main committee, sub-committees have also formed and will focus on different objectives. These sub-committees with focus on acquiring narratives from a variety of young people living with a myriad of diagnoses, as well as working on outreach programs for individuals with disabilities to share their voices and become empowered. Above all, the ultimate goal of the project is to create a sense of community among all.
The committee is comprised of young people living with special needs – such as developmental delays, physical disabilities, Autism Spectrum disorder, hearing and visual impairments, and mental illnesses. In addition, older, well-established individuals, known as ‘Amplifiers’, facilitate the committee. “Everyone in the group has had very different experiences; we have all been oppressed due to having a disability at some point in our lives. I think this committee helps connect the group members and provide a feeling of belonging to those who have often felt isolated,” says Turner. Despite the challenges that the committee members may have faced, Irwin Elman and his staff have gone to great lengths to remove any barriers that may be faced while a part of the committee; the team covers expenses and ensures accessibility is not an issue.
Turner has been dedicated to the King’s community since 2009 (Soph, Head Soph, Accessibility Representative for KUCSC, Executive member of Jack.Org - King’s, guest lecturing). Entering her final year of the Bachelor of Social Work program, her intentions are to apply to grad school and pursue her dream career in social policy and advocacy. As an individual who identifies as having a disability, Turner has not let her challenges bring her down, “I was born with a condition called cerebral palsy. Though I have definitely experienced challenges throughout my life, I have been able to overcome them and achieve all my goals thus far.” Turner recognizes her success has come with the help of many individuals along the way, and this is where her strong desire to help those around her and give back comes from.
The committees report is expected to be complete by early 2016.