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Get to know "Mai" story #1

People who have heard of me tend to associate my name with special education and advocacy - and that's fair. I know a lot about education and special education.

I do a lot of work - free of charge - to educate and advise parents and staff in these areas with the goal of increasing understanding and working together as a team to improve outcomes for kids.

People who know me know that there's so much more to me and what I have to offer. I'll be sharing something special from the past with you through a series of posts so that you can get to know more about me too.

This first post takes us back to 2015. I'd signed up as a volunteer coach for FIRST LEGO League Junior in the community. There weren't any teams in our area at the time and I wanted to support science and engineering for young people in our community in an engaging way.

The participants didn't know each other well (or at all) before we started together but we worked on the challenge and the Core Values of the program. It was wonderful to see them learning together and having fun!

As we neared the end of the 8 weeks, they all started asking me "What's next?" There wasn't supposed to be a next - it was supposed to be an 8-week challenge. But they were learning so much and were so eager to continue that I contacted FIRST and asked if teams were allowed to do more than one project. FIRST said yes to me so I said yes to the kids.

In the winter of 2016, they started a brand new inquiry. They decided to submit that project for consideration for the FIRST World Festival and were selected as representatives of Canada. The photo below is a favourite of mine from that time. Here they are at the festival, just before presenting their work to the judges. The men in the photo are LEGO Master Builders - they'd come by to meet "the team from Canada."

I'm sharing this story because I love the way that it organically developed from what was meant to be a short-term commitment into what ended up being at least 4 more years together for these team mates. You never know what's going to happen when you try something new.

For me, trying something new by coaching this team led to me coaching 24 teams in total over the next 5 years as a volunteer and starting the youngest FIRST teams in London both at that time and when the next opportunity arose for kids ages 4-6. My commitment to education and to working to inspire kids in our community extends beyond special education for sure.


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