On March 15th, 2018, we are hosting our annual Life Without Limits Gala. Year after year, we use the evening as a platform to celebrate the success of BC’s disability community and fundraise for a cause that is truly bigger than all of us.
By attending our event or supporting the gala, you’ll be making an immense difference for people with cerebral palsy and other disabilities. Proceeds of the Life Without Limits Gala will raise critical funds for our programs and services, including the Tanabe Bursary. This financial assistance program supports students with cerebral palsy to attend a post-secondary institution of their choice.
Meet the speakers: Cindy Frostad
Cindy Frostad is a lifelong learner. She recently graduated with a Master’s degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Cindy has been involved in several new system design initiatives and has been a Resource Parent with the Family Support Institute of BC on the North Shore for over twenty years. She is the mother of two delightful daughters; believes that every child is exceptional; and is an abstract painter in her spare time.
For Cindy Frostad, knowledge is personal power. With a history of advocacy, volunteer work, and facilitating learning, Cindy has been a long-time Resource Parent for families that are raising children with exceptional needs. She is passionate about the importance of representing the diversity of all learners in the education environment.
Part of Cindy’s life path has been shaped by her eldest daughter Erika, who was diagnosed at nine months with severe cerebral palsy. She feels that educators made a difference in her daughter’s life by creating relevant, inclusive learning experiences that were meaningfully engaging with her peers. Evidence of this successful practice came through the words of one peer in Kindergarten, “Erika’s just like us. She just does things differently.” As teachers worked with her daughter’s unique strengths and abilities, and as her daughter learned alongside her peers, Cindy began to take note of the empowering potential of inclusive education and its larger importance in the future of education.
Recently returning to studies herself, Cindy sees an opportunity for enhancing professional development through establishing a pathway of access to current research. “We, as educators, need to be able to get at the wealth of the evidence-based research papers that have been languishing in databases for years. Updating and expanding our knowledge base would empower us to individually and collectively advance education practices. I’d like to see research papers on the bulletin boards of every staff room. Proven research can be the education game-changer for professionals and students alike – we just need a way to access the research.”
Cindy notes that BC’s new curriculum transformation plan is already on track to reach learners more effectively through a concept-based, learner-centred approach. The plan mentions reaching all learners by working with Universal Design for Learning (UDL). Integral to student success and true inclusion, UDL is a research-based, overarching framework that includes all learners by eliminating barriers to individual learners; providing tools for learning; and allowing greater access to information. Basically, when educators plan for the margins, choice is available to all learners.
“Why is this crucial?” Cindy asks. “Knowledge is empowering. In order to truly develop every individual’s potential, we need to presume competence and to plan for the widest learner variability in the learning environment. This is actually possible. Students develop a unique set of competencies when their environment is set up for them to explore, experience personal growth, and follow their passions – and we need to support them in doing so.” Twenty-five years of accumulated research has tracked student success when facilitated through the UDL framework – when information is represented, accessible, and expressed in multiple ways.
Cindy’s inspiring work is leading into systemic change towards the way that individuals, such as those living with cerebral palsy, gain an education. Frostad’s passion for inclusion in education is clear in her conviction: “Bar none, education is a fundamental pathway to enlightenment and achieving personal goals.”
Frostad explains, “How we provide for, how much we support, and how we embrace individual differences in education is integral to the advancement of our society. Each one of us has an opportunity and a choice to ensure this happens.