Students compete to advocate for autistic learning inclusion

A three-page essay advocating for amendments to the Education Act, in an effort to address inclusion opportunities for students with disabilities, particularly autism, landed St. Augustine’s College (SAC) student Alexandria Rolle first place in the sixth annual First Care Medical Plan essay competition Wednesday.

Corina Neely, president of the insurance company, awarded Rolle her prize.

Neely said the competition is part of nurturing empathy for a rising generation.

“As human beings, its often difficult to truly understand and to empathize with the reality that is far removed from our own,” Neely said.

“It challenges high school students to look beyond their reality.”

Also in attendance to celebrate the winner was President of Resource and Educational Source for Autism and other related Challenges in the Bahamas (R.E.A.C.H.) Bahamas Marcia Newbold and Director of Education Marcellus Taylor.

“This kind of advocacy in the area of autism are indeed driving change to public policies as to how it is we should be responding to this demand,” Newbold said.

Taylor said the demands outlined in the winning essay are just the brink of a movement.

“With persistency, eventually you will see the state will match your lead, that the demand is there,” Taylor said.

“Sometimes you may feel the response is not adequate, that the work may be in vain or fallen on deaf ears … you come to the Ministry of Education and you say you want these things done and we tell you we will see what we can do. But this is the process.”

Taylor said within the last 15 years, the ministry has done its best, particularly in educating many on the subject of autism, while also implementing facilities that cater to autistic teaching.

“Recently we have established an autism class at the Marjorie Davis institute for Special Education,” he noted. “We also recently instituted a preschool – Willard Patton Pre-school on Augusta Street.”

The essay contest question was: If you had the power to pass two laws that would better the laws of autism, what would it be?

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