Marking 25 years of inclusive post-secondary education

June 30, 2021 | Campus Life

Logan Farr is one of up to 15 students who attend MacEwan University each year through a partnership with Inclusion Alberta, which creates opportunities for students with developmental disabilities to participate and audit courses in regular programs of study.

Logan Farr’s summer job at Parks Canada combines the two things he loves most – interacting with people and being active outdoors. The Bachelor of Physical Education Transfer student just finished his first year at MacEwan University and is spending the next few months working as a student heritage presenter at Banff National Park.

“I’m super excited to have a job with Parks Canada in Banff this summer. I’m also very proud of finishing my first year at MacEwan because it was challenging learning all the new things,” says Farr. “I passed all of my exams. I’m proud of that too. Thanks to the team at MacEwan who have supported me both in school and employment – 10 out of 10 experience!”

Farr is one of up to 15 students who attend MacEwan each year through a partnership with Inclusion Alberta, studying everything from social work, public relations and music, to massage therapy, business and nursing.

For the past 25 years, the university has been providing opportunities for students with developmental disabilities to pursue their dreams, attend university, get involved in campus life and gain valuable experiences. Like other MacEwan students, students supported by inclusive post-secondary education enroll in the program that aligns with their future goals and career aspirations.

While they generally take fewer courses with an individualized pace of study and do not receive official final grades, students are supported to participate fully and complete modified assignments, exams, group work, field placements and practicums.

“I really value this initiative and the opportunities it provides for all of the students in our classroom community,” says Dr. Joanne Minaker. The associate professor and associate dean in the Faculty of Arts and Science, who has welcomed several students being included into her criminology classes, says that, from her perspective, everyone in her classroom can play a role in fostering teaching and learning.

“Everyone is on a different learning journey with different starting points, goals and measures of success,” says Dr. Minaker. “Each of my experiences with including students has been about looking at the abilities, capacities, contributions and strengths these students bring and how they can be amplified.”

Students supported by inclusive post-secondary education also have the opportunity to hold jobs on campus, participate in student groups, access research positions and, after completing their programs, become MacEwan alumni.

Ultimately, the goal of a new letter of agreement that extends the university’s partnership with Inclusion Alberta until 2026, explains Dr. Craig Monk, provost & vice-president, Academic, is to provide all students with access to the same university experience.

“We are thrilled to be continuing this relationship with Inclusion Alberta that provides quality, meaningful educational experiences,” says Dr. Monk. “This is an initiative that not only benefits the students who participate, but our entire university community.”

As for Farr, he is looking forward to returning to lectures, labs and his friends at MacEwan in the fall. And when his program is finished, he hopes to land a job with Parks Canada once again. “I want to encourage people to get outside, enjoy fresh air and view wildlife safely.”

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