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Thursday, February 15, 2018

8:30 am Registration

9:00 am to 3:30 pm Conference

3:30 pm to 5:00 pm  Reception

7:00 pm to 9:00 pm  Parent Evening 
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Santa Maria Goretti Centre

11050 - 90 Street

Edmonton, Alberta

T5H 1S5  


Heather Luciow
The GRIT Program

"The Roots of Inclusion" 

February 15, 2018

Affirm your value of inclusion and be inspired to influence meaningful participation in the early years.


"The Roots of Inclusion"

This conference will explore the complex factors impacting the inclusion of young children with disabilities and recognize the roles within families and our professions to cultivate an inclusive world.  The conference will highlight many of the considerations and practices that lead to the meaningful participation of children, all from the lens of presumed competency.

Who should attend?

All adults interested in supporting quality inclusion of young children with disabilities including parents, early childhood educators, educational assistants, key-workers, speech-langauge pathologists, occupational and physical therapists, administors and policy makers.


Featured Presenter:  Erin Sheldon

Erin Sheldon, M.Ed., earned her graduate degree studying language development and literacy instruction for students with comple needs.  She has authored articles, book chapters, manuals, webinars, and on line professional development modules on the topic of school inclusion, AAC adoption, emergent literacy, and assistive technology.  Erin is a sought after international speaker and is the CEO of Integration Action for Inclusion, a provincial parent organization that works for the inclsuion of all people with disabilites in their schools and communities.  She lives in Kingston, Ontario with her family, including her teenage daughter, Maggie, who has Angelman Syndrome.

9:00 - 10:00 am  Keynote:  From Presence to Contribution:  A Family's Journey Towards an Inclusive Life

After her daughter, Maggie, was born with significant disabilities, Erin and her family began a journey that would lead to inclsuion.  Witnessing the ordinary but enviable lives of adults with disabilities, Erin began to form an inclusive vision for Maggie's future.  Including her in the regular classroom has been a complex experience and Erin's idea of "inclusion" has broadened and transformed.  Erin will share three strategies that have built the foundation for Maggie's inclusive future as she transitions through high school and beyond: person-centered planning; raising learning expectations through an understanding of emergent language and literacy develoment; and a focus on natural supports and strong friendships.


10:15 - 11:15 am  Looking through the Viewfinder - Family Panel

The view of inclusion from the family lens can powerfully open the hearts of others to explore what inclusion looks and feels like.  With definitions of inclusive education being redefined in Alberta, this passionate and engaging parent panel will create awareness, hope and possibilities to develop a shared understanding of inclusion for one child/student at a time.

11:15 - Noon  Round Table Discussion

Through guided questions, participants will reflect upon the morning messages and explore their role in cultivating meaningful inclusive experiences for individuals with disabilities.


  • Emergent Literacy with Erin Sheldon

Emergent literacy refers to the skills and understandings that develop from birth until the time we start formal schooling.  Emergent literacy understandings are the result of experience;  its what we learn about books and reading and writing and communication by participating in ordinary early childhood activities.  Our students with disabilities often struggle to access these ordinary experiences.  What they know about literacy and language can be difficult to assess.  This hands-on workshop will explore simple observational assessment tools to help you identify and describe your child's present level of understanding across a range of early literacy and language domains, then apply those tools to identify goals and prepare your instruction.

  • Beyond Access:  Classroom Tools to Support Meaningful Participation for ALL Children with Rachel Siderius, B.Ed., and Krista Wennerstrom, M-SLP, R.SLP

What professional tools and practices can the classroom team implement to result in more positive inclusive experiences for all children?  The emphasis of this workshop will be on the exploration of practical measures that use everyday classroom routines to identify functional educational goals for meaningful participation in the classroom.  Professional reflections will also be shared through video and case examples to highlight the positive impact that these tools have had on affirming and growing educators' inclusive practices.


  • Adding More Across the Day: Building Communicaiton Competency in Emergent Communicators with Jennifer Schulmeister, MSC-SLP, R.SLP, S-LP(C)

In this workshop, participants will be inspired to widen their practices that support young children's communication competency.  Using the principles of aided language modelling, strategies and activities will be shared to build communication across routines in home, community and school.  By using "core" and "fringe" vocabulary modelling, participants will be guided through the importance of adding "more" to the ways and whys that children communicate.


7:00 - 9:00 PARENT EVENING WITH ERIN SHELDON (note location change to the GRIT Office)

From Presence to Contribution:  A Family's Journey towards an Inclusive Life

Be inspired as our conference keynote speaker and presenter, Erin Sheldon, shares her family's transformative journey of inclusion,  Erin will present the guiding principles that have enabled her daughter, Maggie, to experience an ordinary but enviable and inclusive life.  Focusing on the principles of person-centered planning, raised learning expectations and the use of natural supports, Erin hopes to inspire and equip families as they build their own inclusive futures.