Maple Ridge secondary band teacher Ed Dumas has been recognized by Inclusion B.C., a non-profit organization that promotes the participation of people with developmental disabilities into community life.
Dumas will collect his National Inclusive Education Award at the Sheraton Wall Centre Hotel in Vancouver, on May 25, “for his exemplary practice of including students with disabilities in his music program.”
“It’s something I’ve kind of always done, and never really thought about,” said Dumas, who has taught for 29 years.
He was nominated by Deb Appleby, whose son Mitchell plays the tambourine in the MRSS senior jazz band. Mitchell cannot talk, and is in a wheelchair.
“It’s been a wonderful experience, as a parent, to watch my son be fully included,” said Appleby. “He loves the band, he loves the music, and he really gets into the performances.”
Dumas recalls in the early days of his career, students with developmental disabilities did not take mainstream courses.
When that changed, his approach was, “Fine, what’s the big deal.”
Each student has a specialist assistant, and he finds ways for them to participate at their level.
“To me, music is for everyone. Everyone has a place. Everyone can make music to some level, and they should,” he said. “Music is part of everyone’s life. It’s like breathing.”
Appleby saw the award as a way to not only recognize Dumas, but also to promote his approach to including special needs students.
“I think it’s really important for people to see what our kids are capable of, if they’re given a chance,” said Appleby.
Inclusion B.C. was formerly the B.C. Association for Community Living.