Bluewater District School Board

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Every Child Deserves to be Heard

Every Child Deserves to be Heard
Posted on 07/03/2020
Every Child Deserves to be Heard

As we enter an unusual summer with local families continuing to manage through the difficulties and uncertainties of COVID-19, it is more important than ever that we support each other by sharing hope and encouragement.

Tracy Lynn Atkinson, Bluewater District School Board Trustee for the Municipality of West Grey and The Town of Hanover, has been spreading positivity by unearthing a slogan used during her trustee election campaign.

Recently, a surprise gift from a friend arrived in her mailbox in the form of an Orange Shirt Day – “Every Child Matters” themed T-shirt from Cat Lake First Nation. This particular friend, whose sister works in that region of Northwestern Ontario, decided to request the T-shirt as a tribute to Tracy’s use of a similar slogan, “Every Child Deserves to be Heard”.

While Tracy continues to draw inspiration from important occasions such as Orange Shirt Day, which honours residential school survivors and reconciliation, she has always championed all children and those who are most vulnerable. Even prior to her days as a school board trustee, she would often think about how every child had a story, great ideas, and needed someone to advocate for them. Tracy believes that when we stop and truly listen to them, children have so much to tell us. Although we think we are the ones teaching them, they can actually teach us if we take the time to listen.

As a trustee and longtime actively engaged parent, Tracy regularly hears from students in her area. Many will touch base to share how they are doing, to update her on their accomplishments in school or sports, and for various other reasons. By actively listening to them, the youth in Tracy’s life are reassured that what they have to say matters in the eyes of a caring adult, and they have someone to be their voice if needed.

Tracy first became involved at the school board level by joining the Special Education Advisory Committee. This assisted her in finding answers and information that could be helpful in reaching others, and in helping other parents to advocate for their children. Her journey to become a trustee began through the realization that she could help many via a small committee, and her firm belief that if we all take the time to stop and listen, we can accomplish great things.

As retiring Bluewater District School Board Director of Education Alana Murray succinctly stated in her parting remarks at the final board meeting of the 2019 – 2020 school year held in June:

“The role of school board trustees is not well understood or valued by many; but I want you to know that you represent everything that is great about public education – inclusion, caring, fairness, compromise, advocacy, equity, quality, accountability.”

Tracy’s example and slogan mirror the values and beliefs of all Bluewater trustees, and student trustees and senators, who are staying close to our students and families during these challenging times. In addition to making themselves available within their school communities, positive messaging is being shared publicly through social media platforms, trustee newsletters, and photo collages. The latter is a student recognition project that Tracy had initiated, and was unanimously embraced by trustees.

This type of reinforcement is especially important in our current climate. As Tracy often shares in her email sign-off, “Stay Well, Stay Safe, and Keep Positive”.

Orange Shirt Day
Bluewater District School Board is located on the traditional land of the Saugeen Ojibway Nation, which is represented by the communities of Saugeen First Nation and Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation.
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