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I am privileged to have been afforded the opportunity to attend Victoria

Universitys Inclusion and Diversity Day where I was able to attend three
professional development sessions. All of the sessions were based on
social inclusion and social diversity, whereby speakers, presenters and
performers from various walks of life spoke to us regarding their
experiences of inclusion and diversity. I chose to attend the Mental Health
information session, Fusion Theatres performance and Starladys speech
Challenging Gender Stereotypes.
Mental Health:
This session provided some insight into the realities and lives of
adolescence suffering from mental health problems. The presenter, Mel
Vella, is a youth social worker who provides assistance and alternative
pathways to youth in need. Mel emphasised the importance of creating a
positive environment for such youth, in that it empowers them to make
mature and forward-thinking decisions about their lives. She also
mentioned that the thought processes of somebody with mental health
problems are not the same as somebody who is not exposed to the same
conditions, and therefore teachers must be wary of this and approach
each student with caution when speaking to them. We watched a few
videos in which young people with mental health issues described their
personal experiences and their thought processes. This opened my eyes
up to mental health problems as it may be difficult for someone without
such issues to understand the irrational thought processes and feelings.
Fusion Theatre:
This session provided a different perspective on how to view people with
disabilities. The Fusion Theatre employees engaged in games and various
performance-based activities with us, rather than delivering a standard
lecture on people with disabilities. The opportunity to interact and perform
with the employees was a fantastic opportunity in itself. They ran
activities and posed questions that assumed the effort required to assist a
student with disabilities in order for them not to be left behind. While the
session focused on students with disabilities, they also pointed out how
exclusion may affect other students as well. For example, students
assisting others with disabilities may result in their exclusion from other
friendships and lunch-time games overall. At one stage, the employees
discussed their experiences at school. They expressed that throughout
their school-life they felt like burdens and nuisances within the
classroom and that teachers rarely spent quality time with them in order
to ensure their success. This session was helpful in my development of
other perspectives and my understanding of the needs of students with
disabilities. I found that in order to successfully educate these people it is
necessary to be flexible as a teacher and the importance of safe inclusive
learning environments.