With a few cans of paint and an impromptu singalong, a group of passionate students and volunteers transformed the Nelson Waldorf School breezeway into a rainbow sidewalk to celebrate Pride Month. The mood was one of light and love as students, faculty and staff got to work painting, while music teacher Vanya Popoff led the group in uplifting renditions of Somewhere Over the Rainbow, Rainbow Connection, and All You Need is Love.
The sidewalk painting, organized by woodwork teacher Mark Hamilton and supported by the NWS’ Diversity, Equality, Inclusion and Social Justice (DEISJ) Committee, stands as a bright example of acceptance and understanding — teachings that the middle school students have been learning about this year through SOGI 123 curriculum enhancement, provided by the ARC Foundation, a Vancouver-based non-profit organization supported by the Ministry of Education.
“The rainbow sidewalk is a recognizable, visible symbol representing Nelson Waldorf School’s commitment to celebrating diversity and supporting inclusion in our community,” says DEISJ member and NWS parent Anita Levesque-Smith. “In addition to these gestures, the DEISJ Committee is also working towards concrete actions on policy and curriculum to ensure our campus is a welcoming and informed environment.”
Grade 7-8 teacher Debora Oese-Lloyd has accessed many of the learning tools available through SOGI 123 for her lessons this year, including videos of trans youth sharing their stories and experiences. “The essays the students wrote afterwards spoke to their deep reflections, and how moved they were,” says Oese-Lloyd.
“One of the unexpected results from our study was how the social life of the class became even more kind and considerate. Learning about the courage and bravery that these trans youth summoned in order to be their authentic selves in the face of extreme prejudice helped the class create more space for all of the students to be themselves and support one another.”
Work will continue over the summer months to live into the pledge that NWS has made, and to create an educational environment where all students can feel safe, seen, and supported. The SOGI 123 curriculum will be expanded on in the 2021-2022 curriculum and beyond.
The Nelson Waldorf School would like to thank the Nelson Home Building Centre and Nelson Tiny Houses for their donation of paint and supplies to this project. For more photos of the event and to find out more about the DEISJ initiative at the Nelson Waldorf School, please visit www.nelsonwaldorf.org.