At SelfDesign, we are committed to excellence by providing quality educational programs and services that are inclusive, supportive and accessible to those we serve. We believe in the safety, acceptance and inclusion of all learners in regards to ability, learning style, culture, race, personal or spiritual beliefs, gender identity and expression.

“SelfDesign has always provided a place and a home for learners who come from diverse backgrounds and have diverse needs,” says SelfDesign Learning Community Principal Catherine Dinim. “Whether it’s around culture, background, abilities, sexual orientation or gender identity, race or religion, we really pride ourselves on and want to be an inclusive place where learners are themselves authentically.”

Acceptance and support for all facets of diversity is woven into every aspect of our organization and programs.

Our approach to education is inclusive and centers on the learner

At SelfDesign, personalized learning means each child takes the lead in their own learning. This is a 21st-century approach to education that puts the needs of each child first. Our educators work with families to determine what their children’s passions are and to create a unique individualized learning plan for each learner that draws on the child’s own passions, interests, learning style, needs and goals.

We apply the principles of Universal Design for Learning when developing curriculum, programs and activities for our learners. We use this framework to help ensure that every resource, activity, camp or offering that we provide gives every learner choice and flexibility in how they access material, engage with it, and show what they know, based on their own specific needs, learning style, abilities, and interests.

Our educators further customize the learning process to each learner’s specific needs by using software and interactive media that can be adapted to the learner’s pace, abilities and understanding.

“SelfDesign is committed to creating and providing a curriculum and learning events and offerings that are designed right from the start with every single one of our learners in mind,” says Education Program Team Lead Janice Green.

“In removing obstacles and providing a flexible curriculum, this allows for accessibility and extends opportunities that will challenge learners.”

Ongoing personal and professional development keeps our educators up to date on advances in learning science that support inclusive learning. For example, our Family Services team plans and presents training opportunities for our educators and support teams to facilitate and support inclusion and diversity, anti-racism, and anti-oppression in their work.

Learn more about our personalized, learner-centred approach to education

Learn more about Universal Design for Learning at SelfDesign

We provide equal access to learning opportunities for all learners

“We see our role as being here to support each learner, to hold them up as they explore their interests and passions and grow, learn and develop,” says SelfDesign Chief Learning Officer Nikki Kenyon. “It’s a real privilege to be able to support learners who struggle to feel welcome or even valued, to know that they can have a home in SelfDesign and they can feel like they can be who they are and that they belong.”

SelfDesign provides services for all learners needing additional support to maximize their learning opportunities. Our BC certified educators work with learners, families and SelfDesign’s Family Services team to identify and support each learner’s individual needs. This includes specific services to support learners who have been, in accordance with BC Ministry of Education guidelines, professionally diagnosed with low incidence needs or who may or may not have been diagnosed with high incidence needs. Learners with special needs have access to specialists who can provide a wide array of services, including speech pathology, psychology, and so on.

We also provide resources and support to help learners and families when events or situations interfere with learning. Within SelfDesign Family Services, members of our Contact Assistance Team work with learners in kindergarten to grade 12, including learners with special needs who receive support services, to provide diverse and meaningful support for all learners and parents to successfully engage in their educational program.

In addition to these supports, SelfDesign provides a broad range of helpful online resources via the Virtual Brochure Rack in our online Family Resource Centre. Learners and families can consult the resources to help in their lives and in how they experience their education. We also work these resources into our core learning program.

Learn more about SelfDesign’s Support Services

Read about our Family Services Team

Learn how we select specialists to help learners and families meet their learning goals

We weave Indigenous perspectives and values into all aspects of SelfDesign

SelfDesign continues to implement its strategy to support Indigenous learners in our community and to advance reconciliation for all members.

These efforts are driven by the more than 80 recommendations put forward in 2017 by SelfDesign’s Indigenous education task force, which was composed of a First Nations elder, a First Nations SelfDesign parent and learner, and SelfDesign educators, including those of Indigenous heritage.

In addition to offering an ever-growing menu of ways to explore Indigenous culture, traditions and ways of seeing and being, our goal is to build capacity throughout the SelfDesign community for intercultural understanding, empathy and mutual respect. And our vision, says SelfDesign Learning Consultant and Learning Specialist Patricia Collins, who served as our first Indigenous Education Facilitator beginning in 2017, “is for the learning community to be in a space where Indigenous education and mainstream education are integrated and woven together so seamlessly that you can’t separate the two.”

Read our blog series about Indigenous Education at SelfDesign

We support all facets of gender diversity and sexual orientation in our community

In 2020, members of our leadership and Family Services teams worked with a group of keen grade 10 to 12 learners to launch SelfDesign’s own Gender Sexual Orientation Alliance (GSA). We have been honoured to support the learners who lead and take part in that initiative ever since.

“We embrace heart-centered and co-inspirational relationships based on acceptance, respect, and support of one another and we use conversation, collaboration and co-creation, with curiosity as our lifelong pathway to transformative experiences,” Catherine says. “Co-creating the opportunity for our LBGTQ2S+ learners and allies to gather together via the GSA to share their experiences, form collaborative relationships, and to inspire each other and the larger SelfDesign community has been really important.”

The GSA is just one of the ways in which we actively seek out ways to implement SOGI 1 2 3 (sexual orientation and gender identity 1 2 3) throughout SelfDesign to support youth and other community members who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, two-spirit, or other, or who might be exploring their gender identity and sexual orientation. The Ministry of Education requires all B.C. schools to implement SOGI programming. Our own inclusive approach to community and learning facilitates this work.

Our Family Services team has been helping to lead the work at SelfDesign. They look at what services and information could be helpful to learners questioning or exploring their sexual orientation and gender identity, families of these learners, and educators working with these learners and families.

Read more about how we are implementing SOGI 1 2 3 at SelfDesign

Learn about our learner-led GSA

We embed diversity and inclusiveness in all our learning content and events

We have policies and procedures in place to help ensure our camps, online gatherings, and curriculum content are inclusive of all learners, whatever their abilities, learning styles, cultures, race, personal or spiritual beliefs, and gender identity and expression.

The SelfDesign Learning Experience Library offers a dynamic, curated collection of resources, questions, suggestions and inspirations sparked by the curiosity of our learners and offered in integrated interest-based experiences. It contains approximately 75 unique learning experiences that contain significant levels of content dealing with topics of diversity. First Peoples’ Principles of Learning are also woven throughout the Learning Experiences.

We apply the principles of Universal Design for Learning when we develop each new learning experience, resource to share with learners, group activity, workshop and camp that learners will participate in to ensure learners have choice and flexibility in how they access the offerings, engage with them, and show what they’ve learned.

Learn more about Universal Design for Learning at SelfDesign

Learn more about our Learning Experience Library

A lifelong journey towards inclusion and diversity

We are proud of how inclusive and welcoming of diversity our programs and organization are.  We also recognize that our work in this area provides a strong foundation for even more work to further foster the safety, acceptance and inclusion of all learners.

As Nikki, our Chief Learning Officer, says:

“Inclusion isn’t a destination; it’s a lifelong journey. Every day at SelfDesign, we seek out new, meaningful ways to include all our learners, families, educators and contractors – in all of their diversity and variety – into our community and to make them feel welcome, recognized and accepted for who they are and that they belong.”

Whoever you and your child are, whatever your or their abilities, learning style, culture, race, personal or spiritual beliefs, or gender identity and expression, you are all welcome at SelfDesign.