Author instils inclusion among students
through dramatic storytelling
To view more picutres of Itah Sadu, click here: http://www.hdsb.ca/library/videos/ItahSadu.mpg
By Jason Misner
Communications Officer, HDSB staff
Using her creative storytelling skills and animated flare, award-winning author Itah Sadu brought an important message to Forest Trail Public School Tuesday afternoon ─ never judge a book by its cover.
Appearing regularly on television and facilitating storytelling and writing workshops for children, parents and educators alike, Sadu shared with Forest Trail staff, students and parents the need to be inclusive.
Sadu was billed as a highly theatrical and inspirational speaker who uses storytelling to humorously deal with serious subjects close to her heart. She didn’t disappoint.
Born in Canada and raised in the Barbados, Sadu captivated the crowd with an animated display of valuable life lessons to help Forest Trail address the issue of inclusion. She threw in a few “woos” here and “yeahs” there in helping maintain their attention.
The writer of such books as Christopher Please Clean Up Your Room, Name Calling, How The Coconut Got Its Face told one particular colourful story about meeting a man named Ricky on a city bus. He was visually impaired.
They went on a date but she turned down other dates because she “could not see past” his disability.
“I felt very ashamed…because all the times I spoke to Ricky, I never, ever once asked Ricky what he did for a living because I could not see past his blindness.
“What if Ricky didn’t want to be my friend because I am of African descent?”
They did remain friends, with Sadu thankful of Ricky “for allowing me to see on a day I could not see.”
She recited her book, Christopher Changes His Name, which is a story about a young boy, Christopher Mulamba, who changed his name several times to make his stand out from the other Christophers. But when he received a cheque from his grandmother in his original name, he realized he couldn’t cash it. He also realized how “pretty special” his name, Christopher Mulamba, is.
Sadu also encouraged the students to be curious and ask questions.
“We need to become curious about the world because that is how we become informed,” Sadu explained.
Students certainly heard Sadu’s message loud and clear.
Grade 7 student, Alanna, said she learned from Sadu’s presentation you shouldn’t judge people by how they look.
“It’s important to treat people all the same,” she said.
With the help of President of the Canadian Caribbean Association of Halton, Veronica Tyrell, Forest Trail’s school council helped organize Sadu’s visit to impress all students and staff the value of tolerance and acceptance.
Forest Trail says its objective is to continue to help build an inclusive environment which values diversity. It will present parents, students and teachers with a dynamic cultural experience that depicts, supports and acknowledges different cultures in the community.
Principal Colette Ruddock was thoroughly impressed by Sadu’s messages.
“Itah is a fabulous storyteller with an important message for our students. I hope that students remember that leadership comes in many shapes and forms, and that there is a leader within them that needs nurturing and opportunity to flourish.”
The Halton District School Board has made diversity a key issue value for a number of years, as its embedded in its 2007-2010 Strategic Plan.
Its policy statement on diversity states: “The Halton District School Board values and respects the inherent value of each unique individual: student, parent, staff and community member. The Halton District School Board values and respects the diverse experiences, bodies of knowledge and histories of all people to be integrated into school practice and curricul(um) through community-based representation.”
Marsha Griffiths, a member of the Forest Trail parent council, said the council was particularly interested in teaching students about how the world is made up of different ethnic cultures and that they should be embraced. The school’s key goal is to make students ‘global citizens’, meaning the hope is each boy and girl will learn to be an inclusive member of society.
The goal was definitely accomplished, she explained.
“There are many different cultures in Oakville and within Forest Trail school." said Griffith. “As a member of the school council, I believe that as a school council we needed to make a good effort to embrace other cultures. There was a need to have an event on diversity and culture.
“The school community, council members need to demonstrate that we are inclusive, not only in words but in our actions. My children were very excited and happy to finally see someone of their culture in a leadership role at school."