LDS Access: Our Very Own “Magic School Bus” Comes to LDS!

LDS Access: Our Very Own “Magic School Bus” Comes to LDS!

LDS Access: our very own “Magic School Bus”


Have you ever wanted to take a ride with Ms. Frizzle on the Magic School Bus? Well, LDS is thrilled to announce the next best thing: LDS Access, a clean-energy mini-bus! 

LDS Access is Canada’s first electric mobile classroom service, coming to a neighbourhood near you soon! LDS Access will offer outreach services—including our Research-informed Individualized Student Education (RISE) and Assistive Technology (AT)—to children and youth with learning differences.  

Did you know that besides providing learning support services in our East Vancouver and North Vancouver Learning Centres, LDS also works in community schools across the Lower Mainland? That’s right, our highly specialized instructors go right into schools to help students! When the pandemic first came to BC, families at these schools not only had to cope with school closures, but many children also lost access to the RISE programming they received from LDS.  

LDS consulted with our community to develop a solution to the critical challenge of getting educational support to the children who need it the most. After significant discussion, we developed LDS Access—an outreach program operating as a “classroom on wheels.”  

LDS worked with local companies, Green Power Motor Company and National Graphic Solutions Inc. (NGSI), to create a customized, clean-energy mini school bus to support vulnerable children and youth with learning and related disabilities—our very own Magic School Bus! 

Award-winning artist Carson Ting was inspired by the LDS Access initiative. As a child, Carson had struggled with a learning disability and received special education, and he was excited for the opportunity to give back to the community. Along with his design firm, Chairman Ting, Carson created a bright and colourful external mural that wraps around the bus, capturing the essence of LDS’s mission, vision, and values.  

LDS Access also incorporates ground-breaking social robotics programming developed in partnership with the University of Waterloo’s Social and Intelligent Robotics Research Laboratory (SIRRL), as well as state-of-the-art assistive technologies (AT) provided by 16 AT sponsors, including Microsoft Accessibility, Mind MeisterTexthelp, and others.  

With the help of our network of educational, community, technology, and financial partners, we came together to create this unique, innovative, technology-enhanced learning support service for students most in need. 

What is LDS Access?

LDS Access is a classroom on wheels that brings RISE programming and AT devices, software, and equipment on the road to visit children with learning differences where they live. 

LDS Access features: 

  • Operates in spaces such as school and Community Centre parking lots and other publicly accessible spaces in underserved neighbourhoods. 
  • Serves communities disproportionately affected by COVID-19, namely those with a high percentage of families who face intersectional socio-economic barriers, including financial, language, disability, or educational barriers. 
  • Adapts our service—which is already financially accessible—so that it can be physically accessible for those who cannot get to our Learning Centres and for whom remote learning is not appropriate. 
  • Provides customized solutions and assistive technologies (AT) that improve student learning outcomes. 
  • Ensures physical distancing and additional COVID-19 protective measures through the design elements of the mobile classroom.  

Want more access to LDS Access?

To learn more or to sign up for a tour of the bus, please visit our LDS Access webpage 

To learn about LDS’s other assistive technologies or our AT Studio—a space dedicated to the collaborative use of leading-edge AT to help our students with learning differences—please email our AT Manager at AT@ldsociety.ca. 

Mission Makers: Cynthia—making a difference through her work

Mission Makers: Cynthia—making a difference through her work

Cynthia, a certified BC teacher at a specialized school for children with learning differences, has spent the last three years as a part-time Remedial Instructor with LDS. She feels that LDS is a further extension of her work in schools and a way to fill the gaps in educational support that may be unavailable in the school system.

Teaching at LDS “is a way of doing what I love doing, but in a different capacity,” says Cynthia. Providing one-on-one remedial instruction is a very different dynamic to her work as a teacher with a classroom full of students. But it brings her a sense of pride when she’s able to use what she has learned from her past teaching opportunities to provide accessible individualized education for students.

Cynthia has always enjoyed learning about how different minds work, including those with learning differences, which is why she pursued a BA in Psychology. Although Cynthia was unsure of what she wanted to do with her Psychology degree, with exploration and curiosity, she applied for her teaching diploma.

Cynthia chose to study Education for her teaching degree and experienced a range of different teaching styles and environments. She again explored various teaching experiences such as teaching at Montessori schools and in an English as a Second Language program.

Cynthia found her current career path with students with learning differences upon returning to Canada after teaching abroad. She had worked with students with autism in the past and remembered the feeling of making a difference through her work and the pride of accomplishment the students experienced with her help. So, when applying for jobs, she applied to the specialized school where she now teaches children with learning differences.

“It’s fun, always changing, allows me to be creative, and is challenging,” says Cynthia about why she enjoys teaching. “I like working with children and learning about what they’re interested in, and deep down inside, I think it keeps me young.”

For Cynthia, it’s essential that every student has the opportunity to learn in a way that best suits their needs, and LDS can provide a space for this. Connecting with her students is important to Cynthia. With the age group she teaches at LDS, they are old enough to be socially aware and have critical thoughts, which can lead to interesting conversations.

Using her knowledge about what her students are interested in and what they find relatable, Cynthia curates her sessions around these topics to keep her students engaged. She has found this creates an environment where students want to attend their sessions and are willing to learn. Receiving feedback from her students’ parents about the changes they see in their children, such as volunteering to read at home or seeing their confidence grow, encourages Cynthia to continue instructing.

“Growth is slow, but when it does change, it carries on to all other aspects of their life, which is exciting.”

—Rie 

_________________ 

Rie Stadnichuk (she/her) is the  Communications & Fundraising Assistant at LDS. Currently studying Communications and Economics at Simon Fraser University, she hopes to use this opportunity as a way of exploring meaningful work in the field. She is passionate about social issues and creating environments of inclusivity and open dialogue. Rie graciously lives and works on the unceded territory of the Syilx people. 

Mission Makers: Kaleigh—providing play-based and arts-informed teaching

Mission Makers: Kaleigh—providing play-based and arts-informed teaching

At LDS, we value the varied backgrounds and passions that our instructors use to relate to our students or further enhance their instruction. In the case of Remedial Instructor Kaleigh, her background is in the arts, she has a teaching degree, and she is pursuing an acting career. Her many pursuits add value to her work at LDS because they provide her with a vast knowledge of teaching styles to help her relate to our students.

Kaleigh has a Fine Arts degree in Theatre and a minor in Psychology. For Kaleigh, psychology shed light on how or why a person expresses themselves in a certain way, and drama was one of those ways, so her major and minor went hand in hand. This unique education allows her to be a very empathetic teacher when providing one-to-one instruction. Kaleigh is quick to notice when her students require a brain break or different teaching forms, such as visual or auditory. And as all fun drama teachers do, Kaleigh engages her students in games and takes a play-based teaching approach.

“It’s more important now more than ever to think outside the box,” says Kaleigh about her experience as a teacher. Kaleigh’s arts background has taught her to be adaptive and think quickly to take on whatever may be occurring in the classroom. She also emphasizes how she is a visual learner who grasps concepts best through examples and play, informing her teaching style, especially when academics are challenging for diverse learners. At LDS, there are learning outcomes to be met, and Kaleigh’s knowledge and skill set allow her to adaptively teach in an engaging way so that each student can meet those outcomes.

Kaleigh has always enjoyed the arts and music but was not introduced to drama until high school, where she took it as an elective. She enjoyed studying the arts in higher education because of the supportive community that thrives in this field. Participating in theatre requires social skills and communication and is a breeding ground for collaboration. “Whereas other areas of academics are about answering questions correctly,” says Kaleigh, “the arts are more about the process and how a student approaches the problem.”

One of Kaleigh’s favourite things about her job with LDS is that she can help her students grow and watch the “light bulbs turn on in their heads!” while she works in the arts in her spare time. Kaleigh believes all children can benefit from being involved in the arts and that art helps kids learn self-regulation and social skills while still having fun. Kaleigh also advocates for media representation and creating space and accessibility within the arts for those with different abilities. One day, she hopes to develop a program to bring the arts to children with learning differences.

—Rie 

_________________ 

Rie Stadnichuk (she/her) is the Digital Communications Specialist at LDS. Currently studying Communications and Economics at Simon Fraser University, she hopes to use this opportunity as a way of exploring meaningful work in the field. She is passionate about social issues and creating environments of inclusivity and open dialogue. Rie graciously lives and works on the unceded territory of the Syilx people. 

Mission Makers: Sarah—creating community at LDS

Mission Makers: Sarah—creating community at LDS

“Since joining LDS as Community Manager, Sarah’s work has been fast-paced and ever-changing. Initially hired for a part-time, remote position, within weeks she was packing up her life in Ontario to move across the country to take on a full-time role in Vancouver. This speaks volumes about Sarah’s work ethic and adaptability. As the Community Manager, her current responsibilities include fundraising campaigns, community advancement, special projects, and communications. Her role combines her desire to strengthen community and create change. 

At LDS, community means a place that is both inclusive and accessible. Sarah emphasizes and relates to the aspect of her job description that is to maintain the “health and well-being of our community.” She goes above and beyond to hold space for each student to feel heard and valued. 

Sarah has a Bachelor’s in International Development, which helped develop her critical eye for analyzing both macro- and micro-level problems. She then received a Graduate Certificate in Public Relations, which gave her the tools to bring solutions and a big-picture vision to organizational issues. She gained experience in communications positions at large corporations but did not find the competitive, sales-focused environment motivating or fulfilling.  

Her education and her mother’s career as a social worker inspired her to want to take on a career beyond the typical, corporate Public Relations (PR) or Communications job path. “I didn’t know I wanted to work for a nonprofit organization,” says Sarah. “I just knew I wanted work that aligned with my desire to create systems change,” and she realized she could do that by working for a nonprofit. 

Sarah found work as a Project Manager at a private school that served children with learning differences. She enjoyed being able to exercise her creativity to complete big-picture projects and initiatives. Sarah appreciates PR’s earned media aspect and interacting with customers and clients to find solutions to their issues and listen to their stories, which helped guide her to her current position. 

At LDS, there are service deliverables and a mission as there are at many other nonprofit organizations. But what stands out to Sarah is “our work in advocacy, in transforming individual lives of children and youth, and bringing attention to the issues that face our society as a whole.” Sarah believes that the importance of LDS and nonprofit organizations is that they go beyond finding a temporary solution and work to solve the root of the problem to create lasting change.   

Sarah’s favourite part of her job is working on large projects that make LDS stand out, as she likes project-based work where she can create, design, and bring her visions to life from start to finish. “I feel personally motivated by the projects we are doing and inspired by the people I’m working with,” says Sarah. 

About her time at LDS, Sarah feels that she is part of a well-oiled machine on a long-term mission to help children with learning differences; one that will create a more accessible and inclusive community and, eventually, bring systems change to our society.  

“We all contribute differently,” Sarah says. “Most of my work is on the communication and fundraising side of things, while others are part of program delivery or finances. Everyone plays a different role, but we are all working towards the same overarching goal.” 

Alongside her Community Management role, Sarah is working towards a Non-Profit Management Certificate at Simon Fraser University to take a new approach to management and support LDS to reach its vision and mandate. 

—Rie 

_________________ 

Rie Stadnichuk (she/her) is the Digital Communications Specialist at LDS. Currently studying Communications and Economics at Simon Fraser University, she hopes to use this opportunity as a way of exploring meaningful work in the field. She is passionate about social issues and creating environments of inclusivity and open dialogue. Rie graciously lives and works on the unceded territory of the Syilx people. 

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