Mine Centre School supports autism research

Students at Mine Centre School pulled together for a fundraiser last week for the Autism Society Ontario.
But it was their principal, Brenda Ferris-Hyatt, who really went the extra mile. She agreed to be taped up to a wall in support of the annual “Toonies for Autism” fundraiser.
For every toonie a student or staff member brought in, they were entitled to a piece of duct tape to help tape the principal to the wall.
With a total school population of about 79 students, they were able to raise more than $300—doubling their fundraising efforts from last year.
They also went through three rolls of duct tape, or about 750 yards.
“It was awesome, and all for a good cause,” Ferris-Hyatt said afterwards.
To begin, she stood on two milk crates as students taped her arms, legs, and torso to the wall. Once all the tape was on, they pulled out the milk crates from under her feet.
“I was a little nervous at the end when they were taking the crates out,” she admitted.
Luckily, the tape held and Ferris-Hyatt clung to the wall for several minutes before the staff helped her down.
Besides contributing financially to the cause, many students also come to school dressed in orange and purple—the colours of Autism Society Ontario. Some parents also came out to support the cause.
The event was organized by educational assistant Pam King, who works closely with autistic student Mason Whitecrow.
“It’s all in honour of Mason,” she said.
The school also invited special guest speaker Laureen Morrish, of the Childcare Resources School Support Program, to talk to the children about autism.
“Autism Spectrum Disorders [ASD] are neurological disorders and quite complex to explain to children,” she said.
“My big message today for the students was to respect the learning styles of others, and that assumptions shouldn’t be made without getting to know the person,” Morrish explained.
Each class watched an age-appropriate video about ASD and then asked questions. The students were generally very receptive, Morrish noted.
“We also discussed the sensory issues that many people with ASD deal with and how difficult it is,” she said.
“I really stressed that just because they know one person with autism, doesn’t mean they will understand how it is for all people with autism,” she added.
This was the third year the school participated in “Toonies for Autism.”
“Schools like Mine Centre that go that extra mile to support their students deserve recognition,” Morrish remarked.
Anyone interested in learning more about ASD can visit autismsociety.on.ca