School staff working with students with autism spectrum disorder will have more support as a result of a new regional training course launched today, April 2, World Autism Awareness Day. The new e-learning resource was launched by the Council of Atlantic Ministers of Education and Training and the Atlantic Province’s Special Education Authority’s Autism in Education Partnership. “With the launch of this course, educators now have an evidence-based resource to help them gain more experience, knowledge and skills to strengthen the support for students with autism spectrum disorder,” said Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Karen Casey. “Having an inclusive environment in our schools is an important part of our action plan for education. This program supports school staff and helps them provide a better learning environment for all students.” Available in both English and French, the course includes 40 hours of online content that provides consistent training across all four provinces. The course focuses on autism spectrum disorder and its impact on learning, the principles of learning and behaviour, how to support communication and social skills development and more. Educators who will benefit include, learning centre teachers, specialists, speech language pathologists, psychologists and teacher assistants. “This online course was filled with useful and practical information that I was able to implement immediately,” said Janet Pheifer, a learning centre teacher at Eskasoni Elementary and Middle School who completed a pilot of the course. “My students were able to benefit from all of the examples and strategies. I found myself completing a module and then tweaking how we dealt with situations and implemented strategies. “I have seen improvements in learning and behaviour as we improved our methods and understanding of autism spectrum disorder.” This interprovincial initiative is part of the ongoing effort to provide more support to students with autism.
Travelling to Brock by bike or on foot just got a bit easier — and a lot safer.Work on the new Decew and Merrittville multi-use pathway has been completed, providing a safe route to get to the University from one of the most popular off-campus residential neighbourhoods.Last year, the Government of Ontario, City of Thorold, Niagara Region and Brock University announced a partnership to build a network of bike lanes and paths that would stretch from the Confederation Heights neighbourhood to the Brock campus. The announcement followed lobbying efforts by the Brock University Students’ Union for improved cycling infrastructure near campus.The first phase of the project began in 2016 with Decew Road reconstructed from Richmond Street to Merrittville Highway. Work continued this past April with a multi-use path and improved lighting installed on the highway between Decew Road and Sir Isaac Brock Way.An officially opening for the new pathway will be held Wednesday, July 19 at 3 p.m. outside of Niagara Region headquarters — on the southeast corner of Sir Isaac Brock Way and Merrittville Highway. The ceremony will be followed by a bike ride for cyclists of all ages. All are welcome to attend.Active transportation, such as walking or cycling, is a healthy way for the large population of Brock students and employees living in Thorold to commute to campus, said Elizabeth Yates, a liaison librarian at Brock, who is also a member of the Thorold Active Transportation Advisory Committee that advocated for the path project.“Before this pathway was built, walking or riding along Decew and Merrittville felt unsafe due to large volumes of traffic, with vehicles sometimes travelling over the speed limits,” she said. “Poor nighttime lighting was another concern.”As a cyclist and advocate for active transportation in the community, Yates was impressed to see so many partners come together to show their support for an initiative that “promotes healthy commuting and makes our area safer for everyone.”