A Dr. Martin LeBoldus High School teacher who lives and breathes inclusion is being honoured tonight for her work as an alternative education teacher.
Regina's Leanne Barnes, who teaches young people with intellectual disabilities, is the recipient of the Citizenship Award at the Celebration of Inclusion event.
'She really wants her students to have everything that they want in life.' - Marci Down
She works hard for her students to be included and accepted.
At LeBoldus, she heads the Best Buddies program, which matches students with intellectual challenges with mainstream students.
"I think Leanne has the biggest heart," said Marci Down, who nominated Barnes for the award. She works with the Saskatchewan Association for Community Living.
"She really wants her students to have everything that they want in life. She just really, honestly, goes over and beyond what anybody else would be expected to do in her position."
Barnes said sometimes students ask her why peers with intellectual disabilities need to be placed in mainstream classrooms.
"Well, they're in your classroom because they're a teenager; they want to learn how to be a teenager; they want to socialize with you; they want to make friends just like you," she said.
It's heartening to see inclusion at work, she said, whether it's one of her students trying out for the basketball team, participating at the Remembrance Day liturgy or getting involved in a drama class.
Barnes keeps contact with her students after they finish high school. She'll grab a coffee with them, let them know about community events or even invite them to her wedding ceremony.
"I think that's my job and that's my role and I love to do it," she said.