Throughout August, Year 8 are taking part in the Social Justice and Disability Awareness (SOJAD) Program at St Edmund’s College. St Edmund’s educates Year 7 – 12 girls and boys with mild to moderate intellectual disabilities. The SOJAD program is an experiential day of activities where our students are introduced to some of the challenges experienced by students living with a disability and learn about the particular strategies and approaches that are used to allow them to engage most effectively with their learning.

Our day started with some information about the College, their curriculum program and how the teachers teach their students - by thinking outside the box with their strategies for learning. We were then entertained by some of Eddie’s students who danced and played the bongo drums. The enthusiasm and excitement of all students was incredible. The girls then met their ‘buddy’ and completed an activity of making and flying a paper plane. After recess, the girls were shown how to write braille which is quite challenging, but an important method of communication for the blind. They then took each other on a ‘cane walk’ through the College. One girl was blindfolded whilst the other had to lead, point out and describe upcoming obstacles. Lunchtime arrived and the MSB students played soccer, shot some baskets, went to the library or just sat and talked with their new friends. At the end of the day the girls then played blind cricket and goalball – both fun, but difficult as they were blindfolded and had to listen for the bell in the ball.

This program is an enriching and invaluable shared experience. The girls have learnt not to define a person by their disability, but by the person. They completely immersed themselves in the day and have a much better understanding of some of the challenges facing people with disabilities.

Some quotes from Year 8 MSB students were:

A heartwarming, eye-opening experience showing the best of humanity.

Sophie

Going to Eddie’s was an amazing experience, I learnt about disabilities and what it’s like to be blind. I learnt how to use Braille and the history behind it. The students were very friendly and always happy. I felt very welcomed by the students and the staff members. I enjoyed today and am glad I got the chance to go.

Grace

Thank you for this amazing SOJAD experience, it was eye-opening to see so many kind people gathered together. They were all so well-mannered and talkative, they would never judge or hurt anyone. It was fun and challenging being able to experience some of the things that they struggle with, such as blindness. I’m amazed at how they’re able to overcome their challenges and are able to stay such friendly people.

Cai

The kids at Eddie's lived out the values we strive for at Bennies, Pax, Hospitality and Stewardship, the day was an amazing experience I won’t soon forget.

Amber

SOJAD helped me to have a greater understanding of other people’s lives and I learnt many things from the students. Overall this excursion was a remarkable and life changing encounter.

Jaslyn