Diverse Expressions – Unifying Minds through the Heart

The Ottawa Catholic School Board is committed to providing a nurturing environment that helps students develop their talents and reach their full potential, regardless of learning differences. One of the initiatives that demonstrates this commitment is Diverse Expressions – a program designed to encourage connection and collaboration among students with ADHD or learning disabilities (LDs).

Building Bonds through Art and Mentorship

Diverse Expressions is a program that brings together high school students from St. Peter, St. Pius X, and St. Francis Xavier High Schools with elementary school students from their feeder schools. The program’s goal is to provide a platform for students who face similar challenges due to ADHD or LD to participate in three sessions of various art activities throughout the year. These activities include visual arts, music, dance, and more. The student pairs are encouraged to engage in creative projects that allow them to express themselves while promoting teamwork.

The Motivation Behind the Sessions

Diverse Expressions is a mentorship program inspired by David Flink’s Eye to Eye program. It aims to help younger students by providing them with mentors who have gone through similar struggles. These mentors offer valuable support to their mentees by giving advice, encouragement, and reassurance. By interacting with older students, younger students learn that their differences are strengths that provide unique perspectives.

Nurturing Confidence and Connection

Pamela McCulloch, one of the organizers of Diverse Expressions, has shared heartwarming stories of the connections between older and younger students. It’s been wonderful to see how the older students have taken on a “caregiver role” and have been looking out for their younger partners, ensuring they feel included and cared for. 

What’s even more rewarding is watching the younger students grow in confidence as they realize their capabilities. This has been a remarkable experience for the students and staff involved in Diverse Expressions.

Diverse Expressions has received positive feedback from both parents and students. Parents say their children thoroughly enjoyed the program. At the same time, teachers have been moved by the meaningful conversations and connections formed between pairs. This program has become a space where students feel heard, understood, and supported, contributing to a more inclusive school community. We’re confident that Diverse Expressions will continue to make an impact and foster meaningful connections among students.

Looking Ahead

Looking forward to the next session at the end of April, we expect students to participate in a scavenger hunt and create personalized photo books using digital cameras. This will lead to more moments of connection, creativity, and growth. Diverse Expressions symbolizes inclusivity and support within the Ottawa Catholic School Board, reaffirming our commitment to celebrating diversity and nurturing every student.

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