The start of 2020 at Kirinari and Wiyanga High Support Needs Centres has seen students enthusiastically embrace coming back to school and interacting with all their friends and teachers.
Wiyanga and Kirinari are purpose-built facilities which offer students with High Support Needs an alternate platform for learning and inclusion. These facilities are open to students from all over the Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta who have a diagnosis of moderate intellectual disability and low adaptive functioning.
For Kirinari students at Xavier Catholic College Llandilo, students have settled in well. High Support Needs Specialist Teacher George Massih said board games, discussions, drumbeat therapy and online activities have been used to introduce new students to their peers.
“Life skills are at the core of everything that is done at Kirinari. Students have started cooking classes, planting vegetables, collecting bottles for our return and earn and practical road safety lessons in the community. New students have also been taken on a tour of the college which included visiting the oval, basketball courts, canteen, Xavier centre and science labs,’’ Mr Massih said.
Meanwhile at Wiyanga, at St Patrick’s Marist College Dundas, students welcomed three new classmates: Year 7 students Estella and Tanisha and Year 11 student Negin. All students had been looking forward to coming back to school as they had missed their classmates, teachers and the engaging learning experiences.
Wiyanga High Support Needs Specialist Teacher Brendan Harwanek said so far this term, the students have been looking at their place in their community.
“This involved exploring their identity, the diverse cultural background of their peers and reflecting on how their individual qualities can aim to imitate Jesus Christ. The learning surrounding their self-reflection involved detailing their interests, creating self-portraits, taking note of important events in their lives and creating a class cookbook which includes a unique family recipe from each class member,’’ Mr Harwanek said.
Expanding the learning opportunities for Wiyanga students has also involved more occasions to interact with peers from St Patrick’s Marist College Dundas. They have enjoyed participating in homeroom, assembles and peer support lessons as well as classes across the key learning areas of PDHPE, Food Technology, Music and Visual Arts.
“It is encouraging that not only are our Wiyanga students developing their functional academics within the centre, they are able to access general education lessons with their same-aged peers,’’ Mr Harwanek said.
With thanks to Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta.