Before my grade 4 class had the Just Like You workshop, my student, Owen – a boy who has autism, had never ever been invited to a classmate’s birthday party. Following the presentation, when the kids learned that differences are good, Owen got invited to his first birthday party!

That was a big day for Owen, as he finally got to truly be accepted for who he was. Since then, he has been invited to 4 more parties, and kids are learning that even though he may do things a little differently than they may, he is just like them and wants to have friends and be included too.

Sandy Fletcher – Grade 4 Teacher

Education Program Overview:

Our Disability Awareness Education Program is based on the belief that barriers can be removed through education, increased awareness and creating environments of acceptance, understanding, and celebration of differences.

We know that misunderstood beliefs can be a huge barrier to acceptance and when we openly talk about people living with disabilities, how they overcome obstacles, and how we can all contribute to making the world a more inclusive place then we begin to break down stereotypes and negative perceptions that exist.

Variety Alberta runs the “Just Like You” education program to elementary schools within Alberta.

The “Just Like You™ (JLY)” was brought from Variety New South Wales to Canada in the summer 2018.

This free empathy based program introduces the concept of disability to children at a young age. ∪sing direct, impactful interactive workshops led by a person with a disability themselves, JLY challenges misconceptions surrounding disability and provides a new lens for seeing disability in a positive, affirmative way.

The “Just Like You” education program:

  • Raises awareness and increases understanding and acceptance of people who are living with disabilities;

  • Addresses the need to support a culture of inclusion, where all children regardless of ability or specialized need are accepted and celebrated and are positioned to succeed and achieve their own victories;

  • Helps children have a greater understanding of the potential of people with all types of disabilities;

  • Provides opportunities for children to openly talk about differences and develops an understanding of social responsibility; and

  • Provides opportunities for children to talk about bullying and why children who may look or act differently want to play and have friends just like everybody else.