Marsha Forest Centre


PlayFair Teams:
Engaging Students in Challenging Conceptions
of Disability, Education, and Social Justice


The overall project objective is engaging Canadian youth, with and without disabilities to increase awareness in schools and local communities of disability, education, and social justice. The project will be administered by the Marsha Forest Centre (MFC) and partners. The Marsha Forest Centre is an internationally known centre consulting with governments, corporation, advocacy groups, school systems, foundations, and individuals, developing projects, conducting research, and publishing in the area of inclusion of persons with disabilities in the larger community. The Toronto-based Centre is known for development of the Circles of Friends, MAPS, PATH, and other support strategies, for its internationally recognized publications on inclusion, and for the quality of research conducted under its aegis. Partners in the project are People First Canada, the Ontario Coalition for Inclusive Education, and Frontier College, Canada’s national literacy leader.

The project strategy was to develop and present PlayFair Presentations focusing on disability, education, and social justice by elementary and secondary students.  The project partners were engaged to reach out to leading educators in school systems across Canada to extend the partnership circle and to take joint action to improve the life of Canadians with disabilities, particularly as that life relates to education and social justice. Audiences were intended to be  student groups and local communities. Three  pilot Ontario schools were engaged to begin. Volunteer PlayFair Teams from these schools were led by a National Coordinator, a National Mentor on Disability, an in-school staff member, and a local community Mentor. PlayFair teams were students with and without disabilities. The PlayFair Team was intended to be an extra-curricular activity of each school in order to make PlayFair Teams a continuing part of the school program. A training video, training manual, poster, other publicity materials, and project web page were developed based on PlayFair Workshops developed in the schools.

The project was very successful where schools could be convinced to engage, however in general, schools were overwhelmed by other pressures, and with some  outstanding exceptions, were unable to accommodate ‘one more’ innovation (their framing).  The materials have been picked up and implemented more successfully in other countries (which we enthusiastically support). The materials are available, and although the formal project has wound down, we remain available to assist interested parties.

Core funding grant has been awarded by Human Resources Development Canada. This support for developing the project was deeply appreciated.
The primary intended results for the Canadian community include:
    • raising awareness of issues of disability in Canadian society through student activism
    • development of support training materials, continuing support through MFC and partners, and contact with other Teams to support sustainability.
The primary benefits for pilot collaborating schools and school systems will be:
    • development of leadership opportunities for educators and students in working with and for groups marginalized in society
    • recognition of their schools, administrators, teachers, and students as activists in working toward social justice for those with disabilities
    • partnership in an exciting national project which will make substantial contributions to the lives of Canadians with disabilities
    • positioning their systems as national and international leaders in moving toward recognition of the United Nations call for Education for All and education of all within community schools
    • recognition through a national media campaign as pioneers in what promises to be a project which has seminal effect on the national ethic
    • development of a proactive stance focused on those elements of their mission statements which relate to excellent education for students and contribution to their conceptual and moral development
Marsha Forest Centre
Toronto, Ontario