Our school support program has been developed to assist children with cancer and their siblings in the classroom. Facilitated by the Parent Liaison, this peer support model empowers parents to advocate for their child in the educational system.
Since 2001, Candlelighters Simcoe has been represented on the Special Education Advisory Committee (SEAC) for the Simcoe County District School Board and the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board. Knowledge attained through SEAC includes updates on Individual Educational Plan (IEP) and Identification Placement Review Committee (IPRC) process, awareness of educational resources available to students with exceptionalities such as Educational Assistants, technology (laptops, iPads), and adaptive programming.
Presentations are offered to classmates of children with cancer and their siblings, usually at the elementary level. This may include viewing the video “Why, Charlie Brown, Why” along with discussions about cancer, treatments, side effects, and the emotions that go along with them. Presentations are tailored to the wishes of the family and may include the participation of the student (e.g. through photos/videos of their personal experience, bravery beads, or discussion/demonstration of special medical equipment used by the student).
Candlelighters Simcoe can also facilitate presentations for large groups of students by division (primary, junior, intermediate), as well as during school fundraisers such as the Terry Fox Run, or for those studying the science of the body. We also offer presentations at the school board level for professional development days, area principal meetings, special education consultants, guidance counselors, and chaplains.
Information sessions are available for teachers, principals, special education consultants, and school board personnel to provide training on how school communities can best support families during their cancer journey.
Candlelighters Simcoe provides support to parents during IEP, IPRC, and transition meetings with school principals, teachers, special education consultants, therapists, etc., and helps to advocate for home instruction during the treatment process. This step-by-step process is available from diagnosis, through active treatment, and over the long term. We can assist with identifying long-term effects of cancer treatment that relate to educational outcomes and provide relevant resources for teachers. Resources may be loaned to the school for use in the classroom, including DVDs, books, and games for children relating to illness and cancer. The needs of siblings of children with cancer are also considered.
Should a child become palliative, support for the school community is available during the last stages of illness and after a student’s passing, including dialogue with students about their feelings and wishes for memorializing a classmate who has died.
Candlelighters Simcoe empowers parents to participate in school support with the following guidelines and suggestions:
SEAC representatives represent students with cancer on behalf of Candlelighters Simcoe at school board SEAC meetings on a monthly basis throughout the school year. Through our SEAC representation and school program, Candlelighters Simcoe has forged relationships with key personnel at the school board level. As a result of more than 20 years of community outreach, we have established rapport with school principals, vice principals, special education teachers, and classroom teachers. This building of community is important groundwork for the support and understanding needed when a student is diagnosed with cancer.