ICAN … Make a Difference!

ICAN is a school leadership program initiated by Patricia Mandaliti, vice-principal with the York Catholic District School Board in Ontario, Canada. ICAN is an acronym for Inclusive Community Ambassadors Network.

True to its name, ICAN is a student-led initiative that “strives to create opportunities for all students to be included and engaged in their school and the community.” While students are at the forefront, administrators, teachers, support staff, and parents also participate.

Student ambassadors lead the school in creating a culture that embraces their philosophy, which includes “the six Cs”: “critical thinking and problem solving, creativity and innovation, communication, collaboration, citizenship and Catholic character.”

The program has several components. It entails a philosophy that affects how students treat each other in everyday interactions at school. It also encompasses activities, projects, presentations and events that help to promote a spirit of inclusion. The ambassador role also involves representing the student population within the school and externally.

Several examples of student activities are highlighted on the ICAN website. These activities were designed to help with awareness and promotion of inclusion. Some examples include research projects, a poster contest, and a games club. The goal of the games club, for example, is to facilitate inclusive, interactive play, including modeling appropriate play for younger students as well as problem solving strategies for inclusion.

The program has expanded beyond one school to others within the school board. ICAN also offers to help other schools develop similar programs through resources on its website.

To learn more about ICAN, you can visit the website at here or follow the initiative on Twitter at @ican_makeadiff.