Surrey Schools’ first-ever Youth with Autism conference will be at the district’s Resource and and Education Centre (14123 92nd Ave.) on May 2. (Photo: Surrey Schools)

Surrey Schools to host ‘first-ever’ Youth with Autism conference

Event will be for students in grades 4 to 7

Students Surrey and White Rock will be able to take part in the district’s first-ever Youth with Autism conference next month.

The conference is set for May 2 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the district’s Resource and Education Centre (14123 92nd Ave.).

Youth with Autism, a conference for students in grades 4 to 7, will “explore and engage” with topics of interest and “listen to shared and new experiences,” according to a post on the district’s website.

The goal of the conference, according to the district, is to connect students “who have autism with positive role model, recreational opportunities and a positive understanding of autism.”

Marissa Bourke, integration support teacher at Newton Elementary School, said she and a few other teachers brought up the idea of a conference to Michelle Schmidt, director of instruction for student support, and Karen Greaux, district principal. Bourke said planning for the conference has been ongoing for the past year.

“It’s been our experience that when students first learn that they have autism some of them are really excited about it, they’re proud of being autistic and it helps further develop their identity and understanding of themselves,” Bourke said.

“Other students struggle with their diagnosis and have trouble finding peers and role models who are on the spectrum. We recognized the need for all of our students to connect, relate, and have fun with others on the spectrum.”

At the conference, there will be break-out sessions and it will end with a discussion panel. It will also include keynote speaker Michael McCreary of Aspie Comic. McCreary, a young comic, was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome when he was five years old, according to his website.

“See the world through his eyes as he takes you on a comical journey through the lighter side of Asperger’s Syndrome,” the website reads.

The district says about 112 students from various schools in Surrey and White Rock were chosen to attend by integration and support teachers.

For more information on the event, email integration teacher Marissa Bourke at bourke_m@surreyschools.ca.

READ ALSO: Surrey mom furious over new EA agreement, March 13, 2019

READ ALSO: Parents fight for ‘systemic change’ in how Surrey students with autism are supported, June 22, 2018



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