Hundreds gathered at the Victoria Inn Convention Centre on Thursday, February 20, to celebrate the 30th Annual 'Yes I Can!' Awards ceremony, recognizing the tremendous accomplishments of children and youth with disabilities. 'The Yes I Can!' Awards are hosted by the Manitoba Council for Exceptional Children to highlight the outstanding achievements of those students in an array of categories, such as school and community activities, academics, arts, athletics, self-advocacy, technology and transition. The event also highlights students and adults who assist in supporting children and youth with exceptionalities.
This year two students and six adults in the St. James-Assiniboia School Division were recognized for their accomplishments.
Award for Academics
The Award for Academics is given for achievement in a particular subject area such as math, science, reading, social studies, language arts, foreign languages, overall academic achievement, or a high level of achievement on standardized tests.
Braedon Galdbraith - Sansome School
Through Braedon's years of schooling, he has made significant gains with the help of his school team and iPad for communication and visual schedules. He has expanded his communication skills and exchanges in positive interactions with peers and adults while feeling safe and acknowledged. Braedon also enjoys sports and fitness, as well as music and musical instruments. As he begins to travel across Canada to visit family, he continues to strengthen skills of adjusting to new situations. Congratulations on receiving this award, Braedon!
Trey Wachs - Hedges Middle School
Trey is a 15-year-old boy with autism who worked diligently to overcome his fears and communication challenges while attending Hedges Middle School and during his transition to high school this year. His challenges with sensory issues prohibited him from using the school washrooms out of fear. Slowly desensitizing him over the course of ten months, his EA was able to gain Trey's trust and help him push past his comfort zone. Today he participates in art, gym, the Divisional Swim program, ITS Special Olympics events and can enter other areas of the school where he was unable to before. Congratulations Trey!
Certificate of Recognition
The Certificate of Recognition acknowledges students and adults for assisting and supporting children/youth with special needs.
Ryan And Rachel Evans - Strathmillan School
Ryan and Rachel Evans are parents who have gone above and beyond to support and advocate for their son for the past 11 years. They have rearranged their lives to become active team members for their son Ben. Ryan and Rachel work tirelessly alongside the school to provide stability and opportunities for Ben to grow and learn. They have also helped him discover many passions and interests. Despite facing many challenging times, they have shown great strength as a family.
Karen MacArthur - Strathmillan School
Karen MacArthur is an educational assistant at Strathmillan School in the St. James Assiniboia School Division. Her work ethic and professionalism are noteworthy, but what stands out above all is her dedication to children. She consistently thinks outside the box, responding quickly and effectively to ensure that her students have what they need for success. Karen anticipates challenging situations and works with students to minimize negative actions, which allow for more positive experiences at school. In addition to her work in classrooms, Karen was recently instrumental in designing and planning an outdoor space for learning, socialization and self-regulation.
Tammy McMillan - Buchanan School
Tammy McMillan is the Head Night Cleaner at Buchanan School. She consistently goes above and beyond her duties as a custodian. Tammy is a big part of the school community, and the students look forward to seeing her at the end of the school day. Tammy is often visiting a student with special needs, providing incentives for students to be on time for the bus, cleaning eyeglasses, helping students to find lost items or assisting with zipping jackets. Tammy is an artist who donates her time and art to various fund-raising events, including the 'Yes I Can!' Art Auction.
Howard Tokar - Hedges Middle School
Howard Tokar is an educational assistant working at Hedges Middle School. He is a consummate professional in the completion of his role and performs his tasks with diligence, empathy and thoughtfulness. Howard has a unique gift for connection through gentle guidance. He takes the initiative to learn about the students and has the innate ability to establish trust with them. Since Howard has been at the school, staff have noted dramatic changes in the students with whom he has worked. With the support of Howard's perseverance and consistent encouragement, one student learned to push past a comfort zone to achieve educational goals.
Educational Assistant of the Year Nominee - Ecole Robert Browning
Khadidja makes a significant positive contribution to the work of her school and toward the education of her students. Despite her years of experience as an educational assistant, Khadidja is always willing to learn and adapt her practices to improve. Her decision making always involves putting her students' best interests first. Khadidja is a strong advocate for the students' education and wellbeing. She goes above and beyond in her daily assignments, challenging and encouraging students to meet their goals. Khadidja inspires others with her positive attitude, her gentle demeanour, and has a contagious laugh that can be heard daily throughout her school. Awesome work, Khadidja!
St. James-Assiniboia School Division is incredibly proud of our award recipients for their achievements, dedication and hard work. Our thanks to the Manitoba Council for Exceptional Children for organizing such a fantastic event and to the staff, family members and friends who attended to share the moment and recognize the award winners' incredible accomplishments.