I hope everyone is having the most fantastic summer! In approximately 15 hours I will be Toronto bound heading to the Miss Teenage Canada pageant!! I am beyond excited and can’t wait to tell you all about it when I get back home to Calgary. Before I get ahead of myself I would like to draw attention to my platform. I have chosen to focus on teens with disabilities. There is an organization in my high school called TASC which stands for Teaching of Attitude, Social Skills and Communication. It is here disabled teens from grades 10 through 12 are able to learn to communicate with others. During grade 12 I volunteered and worked with TASC. In doing so, I found there is a definite isolation between teens with disabilities and the rest of the school. I realized that although the program was about teaching disabled teens social skills, they were being deprived of the social interaction between students within the school. Yes, they did have the other students in the TASC program to talk to or interact with but those were only a handful of students in which they would become comfortable around.
During the school year we had a number of assemblies, and I will not forget our first assembly we had starting out the new year. We were there to welcome the new grade 10’s and new students that had joined our school. Naturally everyone was invited including the new TASC students. During the assembly I can remember some of the people near me complaining and acting completely inappropriate towards the TASC students because they
Some of the TASC students and me on World Autism Awareness Day
were too noisy and some of them were even yelling at the top of their lungs. I sympathized for the TASC students because they weren’t used to the big crowds making lots of noise and cheering every two seconds. Both the new TASC students and other new students were uncomfortable with one another and at that moment I realized that the integration of the TASC students and the other students within the school was necessary in order for everyone to interact with each other in an appropriate manner. When the TASC students leave the program they are just the same happy, kind teens who entered although they have successfully learned the basics to human interaction and are more comfortable engaging in conversation with others around them. It is also the same for most students who leave high school; they may enter feeling uncomfortable with the TASC students around and leave feeling comfortable around them and will interact with them the same as they would a new friend. It is not only the TASC students that need to learn how to act around others, but in a greater scheme of things, it is the general population of students who need to experience the behaviour of TASC students in order to better understand and be accepting of other people’s actions.
I have a cousin who has been disabled all of her life. She is a very kind, loving and happy person. When she was little and was uncomfortable around strangers, she would become very shy and sometimes act inappropriate towards them. When she began school she was put in a program like TASC where she could learn how to properly interact with other students at her school. The program helped her immensely and by the time she graduated grade 12, she learned how to better act around others. She is still the same loveable person she always was, but she is able to conduct herself better in social situations and likewise, the children that went to school with her, learned tolerance and acceptance. My cousin graduated with many friends consisting of other TASC children, as well as non-TASC kids in her school.
As Miss Teenage Canada I would promote these types of organizations in schools in the hopes of eliminating the isolation between students within programs such as TASC and other teens within the school. I feel as a spokesperson for Miss Teenage Canada, I would be in a better position to be heard. Having the Miss Teenage Canada title would help draw attention to my platform because I will find myself making appearances and talks. I would love the opportunity to visit schools in my new capacity as Miss Teenage Canada.
Thanks so much for reading!
~Miss Teenage Calgary~