Mission Makers: Alice—connecting with kids!
Each month, our blog series “Mission Makers” features the story of a staff member. This month, Alice tells us that her favourite part of working at LDS is interacting with the kids.Learn More
Hello from Sarah and Sierra at the Learning Disabilities Society (LDS)! As the Community Manager, Sarah listens to the needs of people with learning differences, and creates an inclusive space for them in our community. Sierra is the Communications and Fundraising Manager, and her priority is to ensure that LDS effectively spreads awareness of this social justice issue and engages the community to participate in removing the intersectional socioeconomic barriers to success for children with LDs. As LDS celebrates our 50th year of transforming lives through learning, we are focusing on doing our part to make the world a better place. We believe this can be accomplished by building community.
In Disability Visibility, Alice Wong says “community is magic,” and we could not agree more. For us, community is magical because it is our daily motivation. We are committed to social justice and equal opportunities for kids of all abilities. We head to work each day because we know the power of individual actions. We make sure every child we serve feels valued and seen and has the tools to recognize their own unique strengths.
Community is listening.
It’s about creating space for the experiences of children and youth with learning differences and their families. It’s about giving a platform to these stories. Listening to your community means having tough conversations about inequality, ableism, and oppression.
Community is participation.
It’s about becoming involved in a meaningful way. It is about how we can do our parts—whether big or small—to make sure all kids have equal opportunities. Participating in your community can be as simple as connecting children and youth with opportunities so that families who need help get the support they require.
Community is engagement.
It’s about creating an impact. It’s about building relationships and engaging others—our friends and families from diverse backgrounds and points of view—to understand the struggles of people who are different from them and what they can do to level the playing field for kids with learning differences.
As Alice Wong explains, community “can become a movement for social change.”
One in 10 children has a learning disability. Without learning support, kids with learning differences will face disadvantages that kids without disabilities will never know, such as increased high school drop-out rates, and increased poverty, incarceration, and suicide rates. This impacts all of us.
By helping children with learning disabilities, you will impact the neighbourhood, the community, and society as a whole. According to the Vancouver Board of Trade, “Early interventions for disadvantaged children…reduce crime, teenage pregnancy and welfare dependency.”
But access to learning support is not equally distributed amongst all families. Children with learning differences from higher-income families are more likely to get the supports they need, whereas children from racialized, immigrant, low-income or lone-parent households are less likely to be able to find accessible, high-quality Research-informed Individualized Student Education (RISE). This is where LDS comes in.
LDS is the only registered charity in the Lower Mainland that offers affordable remedial instruction to children with learning differences. Since the global pandemic began, eighty percent of our families are eligible for financial support on our sliding scale. Please join our community in supporting these families.
Why? Maybe you’re thinking to yourself, “I don’t know anyone with a learning disability! Why should I be informed on this topic?” Considering all the ableism and stigma against disabilities in our society, chances are that you do know someone with learning differences and you just don’t realize it yet. You listen to your community when you skim through our monthly newsletter. You’ll know what programs we are currently offering. Next time you meet someone with a learning difference, you’ll be able to refer them to a program that can transform the life of a child. What if it is your recommendation that brings a family to LDS? You will start a ripple effect that leads to societal benefits that impact everyone.
Participate in your community by giving. Join our network of change-makers. Together, we can raise enough funding to help hundreds of children and youth with learning disabilities! As Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
3. Follow LDS on social media.
Why? Following us on social media is a great way to engage with your community. By sharing and encouraging others to donate and share, you will help raise our community profile and spread the message. Can you engage your circle of friends and family to help children with learning disabilities?
Thank you for reading!
Sarah & Sierra
Sarah Vopni (she/her) brings kindness, positive energy, and a big-picture vision to our team. Sarah has a background in public relations and communications from Humber College and has a BA in Global Development from Queen’s University. She believes in the goals of LDS to support individual lives to help create positive change both personally and in communities.
Sierra Gemma (she/her) is the parent of an adult child with a learning disability. As a former LDS parent, Sierra saw how LDS transformed the life of her child and now she dreams of creating that change for all kids. Sierra has BA in Sociology and History and an MFA in Creative Writing, both from the University of British Columbia, as well as 15 years of working with local nonprofits and building community.