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Empowering a new generation of teachers

in Latest News, Stories of Independence
Six Curtin University Education Students pose for a photo with Seb, Ryan and Dr Karen Nonis
Six Curtin University Education Students pose for a photo with Seb, Ryan and Dr Karen Nonis

At the beginning of May, VisAbility was given the opportunity to empower the next generation of teachers, encouraging them to “be brave and think outside the box”. VisAbility was invited to speak to Curtin University Education Students; a community initiative facilitated by Dr Karen Nonis, Coordinator of the Bachelor of Education Inclusive Education unit.

In sharing VisAbility’s vision for independence with students, VisAbility’s Manager of Support and Therapy Seb Della Maddalena who was accompanied by Ryan Honschooten, VisAbility’s Youth Support Officer, emphasised the importance of having high expectations for all children, irrespective of disability.

“I believe that when parents, caregivers and educators share a vision for a child,
they are empowered to reach their full potential.”

To enhance the learning experience for students, Ryan Honschooten shared his own personal experiences as a student with vision impairment. Ryan explained that it was the “little things” and the “thinking outside the box” that made certain teachers he had during school stand out to him and go a long way to making a class more enjoyable. Ryan described a high school Art class, where students were asked to paint a scene on a canvas. In place of a canvas, Ryan’s teacher handed him a big slab of clay. The teacher then explained to Ryan that he would create the same scene, just instead by using clay. Over the next few classes, the teacher worked with Ryan on various modelling techniques so that he could create a scene that showed a different texture for the sky, sand, gravel and grass. At the same time, Ryan’s peers were also considering texture within their artwork. Ryan described how this made him feel on a level playing field with his peers.

Ryan spoke to the next generation of teachers about the importance in letting children grow and develop in their own unique ways. “Less is often more. Even though helping students with vision impairment can feel right, it may not always be in their best interest. Take a step back, so that your students can take a step forward and become independent. Let your students make mistakes and get into trouble, don’t cover for them. It’s an important part in their own growth development and gaining life experience!”

A rewarding lesson was had by all, and VisAbility would like to thank Dr Karen Nonis for facilitating this fantastic opportunity. Karen spoke about the significance of such community initiatives to students. “Everyone of us has unique talents and abilities. It only takes one person to realise these potentials. That person could be you, so make that happen today!”. Emelia Quinones, student in the class, agreed and was impressed by work VisAbility was undertaking to champion their vision for independence.

“There is a lot of love put into VisAbility, it is clear from the way they interact with those they help and their families. The needs of the people they help comes first, providing them with amazing opportunites some people in the world can only dream of. Thank you for sharing what you do with the future teachers of WA.”

VisAbility encourages Curtin Education Students to be brave, to “think outside the box” and to make a difference to the lives of young people growing up with disability. For more information on how VisAbility empowers families living with disability, download our eBook: Step into my Shoes – Stories Shared by Parents – for parents – living with disability.  Simply follow this link!