Creston student Alexis Folk and Nelson teacher Chris Mieske have both been recognized as Rick Hansen Foundation 2020 Difference Makers of the Year.
The awards are part of the Rick Hansen Foundation’s national program which seeks to educate elementary students on how to make a positive change in their communities.
Alexis, Grade 7, from Adam Robertson Elementary School was recognized for her leadership, perseverance and for making a difference in the lives of students who participated in the Kootenay Project Adventure Program this year.
The Kootenay Adventure program is a program designed to encourage students with vision and hearing impairments outdoors to learn outdoor skills like canoeing, building a fire and shelter, and nature knowledge.
Alexis worked to open up this program to students with various disabilities, not just those with hearing and visual impairments.
“Alexis’ involvement included helping to pursue and secure funding to ensure more students could be included in a dog-sledding day in Salmo. Alexis is a highly motivated student who has her heart set on pursuing a career in the medical field,” the district said in a statement.
Chris Mieske, a Grade 6 teacher at Trafalgar Middle School in Nelson, won in the educator category. Mieske embraces a guiding principle in his classroom; “leave no one behind” which creates an environment that embraces inclusion, tolerance, and diversity, according to the school district.
This year his class included a student born with a rare neurological condition that affects mobility. Chris saw the opportunity to guide his Grade 6 group through an experiential design challenge to build a personalized sled for the student, to ensure that he could participate in the school’s winter activity days.
The project combined math, science, engineering, art, English and physical education, and relied on the assistance of District 8 specialists to help the class in understanding this student’s physical and social needs.
Both Alexis and Chris will be included in the official announcement this week (National AccessAbility Awareness Week – May 31 – June 6) by the Rick Hansen Foundation. They will also receive a signed letter from Rick Hansen, a Difference Maker certificate, and a $100 Indigo gift card.