At Springboard in Scarborough, learning is a hands-on, interactive affair. Through their Community Learning Hub technology, adults with developmental disabilities are taught various life skills in an innovative way, and then have the opportunity to practice those skills out in the community.
“We teach our life skills in a number of ways using the smart board and the Hub technology together,” explains Megan Hart, teacher at Springboard. “That way, we’re able to keep the lessons as interactive and engaging as possible.”
Springboard is funded by the Ministry of Community and Social Services and offers life skills programming to individuals with developmental disabilities. Students learn about community safety – understanding what different traffic signs mean and how to safely cross an intersection, or learning how to take public transit and map out their routes. They learn about nutrition, where they look at healthy eating, cooking and kitchen safety.
“One module we do with the Hub is kitchen dangers,” explains Megan. “So it allows the students to see the dangers up on the smart board, and then they’re able to go up and spot and physically circle where the actual dangers are.”
Students also learn about budgeting and shopping, where they pick a recipe and determine what ingredients they’ll need, and then plan an overall budget for the meal. Once the students have determined what they need and what it will cost, they head over to their local grocery store where they shop for the items and compare prices.
For student Stephanie Grieve, shopping is one of the most enjoyable parts.
“We are learning about how to stay on budget when shopping for groceries,” Stephanie says. “And writing down the list of groceries we need so we don’t forget anything.”
Megan says that being able to interact with the material through the hub technology is a huge benefit to the students, and helps them learn quicker and more effectively.
“With our clients, a lot of them learn through the hands-on-learning. So engaging, being able to see the material and actually interacting with the material as they’re doing it allows them to gain the confidence and use the skill hands-on.”
While the hub technology might be the most beneficial part of the life skills courses Springboard teaches, Megan says that watching the students put those skills to work in the real world is the most rewarding part.
“Having the opportunity to take them out in the community and implement the skills that we’ve taught them – to watch them independently on the TTC, or to be able to go to the grocery store and pick up the items – it’s always nice to see the skills that you’re teaching them in the classroom in action,” she says. “That’s when you know they’ve really got it.”