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St. Lorenzo Ruiz Middle School Joins the Jays Care Foundation’s Challenger Baseball Program


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News release from Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools

St. Lorenzo Ruiz Middle School is thrilled to announce its selection to participate in the Jays Care Foundation’s Challenger Baseball Program, an initiative designed to bring the joy and benefits of baseball to children, youth, and adults living with physical and/or cognitive disabilities. This marks a significant milestone for the school, emphasizing its commitment to inclusivity and adaptive sports.

An opening ceremony to commemorate the launch of the Challenger Baseball Program at St. Lorenzo Ruiz Middle School’s gymnasium is scheduled for Monday, April 8, from 11:00 to 11:30 a.m. The event will feature the raising of a special banner, symbolizing the school’s proud partnership with the Jays Care Foundation and the beginning of an exciting journey for its students.

“We are eagerly anticipating this new chapter for our students at St. Lorenzo, marking the beginning of what promises to be a fruitful partnership with the Jays Care Foundation,” said Joel Peterman, St. Lorenzo Ruiz Middle School Vice-Principal.

Thanks to the generous donation of equipment from the Jays Care Foundation, students in St. Lorenzo’s Foundation/Blended Program will have the opportunity to engage in adaptive baseball and softball. These sports are not just about physical activity; they are a means to teach important life skills such as teamwork, communication, determination, resiliency, inclusion, support, and courage.

Around 10 students from the St. Joseph High School Ball Academy are set to join the program, planning to meet with participants weekly to aid in skill development. Additionally, several members from the SJHS Ball Academy will be present at the opening ceremonies.

The Challenger Baseball Program, a collaborative effort between Jays Care Foundation, Little League Canada, and Baseball Canada, is tailored to empower athletes with disabilities, ensuring they have the chance to play in a fun, safe, and supportive environment. Through the program, athletes will learn to become more independent, gain confidence, improve communication skills, and set and achieve personal goals.

During the summer months, volunteer community coaches will lead distinct leagues across Canada, while the school year sees the program being implemented in partnership with schools and various community-based organizations. Participants in the program can expect to receive not only in-person training from Jays Care but also adaptive equipment, and a host of coaching tools to enhance their experience.

The impact of the Challenger Baseball Program is profound. Last year alone, it reached over 9,800 participants across 289 programs, becoming the sole sports programming for 61% of the participants, according to their parents and guardians. It has shown significant benefits in increasing independence, self-esteem, peer relationships, and physical literacy among athletes with disabilities.

St. Lorenzo Ruiz Middle School is honored to be a part of this transformative program and looks forward to the positive changes it will bring to its students and the wider community.

Join us at the opening ceremony to celebrate the beginning of an inclusive, empowering sports journey for our students.

About St. Lorenzo Ruiz Middle School:

St. Lorenzo Ruiz Middle School opened its doors in August 2023 and serves students in grades 6 – 9 in Red Deer’s Kentwood Neighbourhood.

About the Jays Care Foundation:

As the charitable arm of the Toronto Blue Jays, Jays Care Foundation uses baseball to teach life skills and create lasting social change for children and youth across Canada. Through programs like Challenger Baseball, they work to ensure young people have access to sport and development opportunities, regardless of the barriers they may face.

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Schools shouldn’t sacrifice student performance to vague notions of ‘equity’

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From the Fraser Institute

By Derek J. Allison

According to a new study published by the Fraser Institute, if Canada wants to remain competitive with emerging economies around the world, we must increase our math, science and reading scores—and not simply pursue high levels of “equity and inclusion” as the primary goal for our schools.

Indeed, highly equitable and inclusive schools—with declining PISA scores, as is currently the case in Canada—do a disservice to students and society at large.

Why? Because higher test scores translate into greater “knowledge capital”—that is, the full body of knowledge available to an economy—and boost economic growth (and, incidentally, the tax revenues that fund our schools).

Indeed, the goal should be equitable access to a quality education. And the most realistic and meaningful way to measure student progress is through PISA tests, which every three years assess the performance of 15-year-olds worldwide in core subjects of math, science and reading rather than the limited curriculum objectives used in provincial testing, which can only show progress or decline within individual school systems. In today’s world, where competition is truly global, we must know how our students and schools perform compared to their peers in other countries, especially the “Asian Tigers” of Hong Kong, Korea, Singapore and Tiawan whose rapidly growing economies have been driven by rising PISA scores.

Obviously, countries with higher test scores can teach other countries how to improve—although there are limits and some traps here. Attempting to cut and paste Singapore’s or Korea’s much more meritocratic systems of highly competitive student assessment and selection would be impractical and impolitic in Canada. Even so, policymakers should consider reinstating more meaningful meritocratic norms in Canadian schools to encourage and recognize academic achievement. Nothing succeeds like success, except recognized and rewarded success.

Closer to home, other provinces could benefit from considering why Quebec is such a stellar performer in math and why Alberta has the highest overall PISA test score average of all provinces.

But fair warning, recent attempts at school improvement in Canada show that top-down one-size-fits-all changes—including extending compulsory attendance, reducing average class size and tinkering with course content—have had little positive effect on student performance, although they may please teacher unions. If policymakers want to achieve more equitable success for more students, they should introduce more flexibility, school autonomy and choice into our top-heavy centrally regulated school systems. In this respect it may be no accident that the three highest performing, mid-spending provincial K-12 education systems (Alberta, Quebec and Ontario) offer relatively high levels of school choice, although of quite different kinds.

Equity and inclusion are noble goals, but they shouldn’t interfere with student progress. There’s too much at stake, for students and the country.

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Expansion planned for Centre for Innovation in Manufacturing at Red Deer Polytechnic

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Investing in innovation at Red Deer Polytechnic

Alberta’s government is expanding student capacity and creating a modern learning environment at Red Deer Polytechnic that will help graduates succeed in the economy of tomorrow.

To support emerging opportunities for students, Alberta’s government will invest $12.9 million to expand the Centre for Innovation in Manufacturing Technology Access Centre (CIM-TAC) at Red Deer Polytechnic (RDP). CIM-TAC is an applied research and innovation centre that gives companies access to state-of-the-art prototyping and manufacturing equipment, along with a multi-disciplinary team with the expertise to turn brilliant ideas into market-ready products.

As Alberta’s economy grows and diversifies, job creators will increasingly seek employees with the skills required to work in advanced manufacturing.

Construction will begin in early 2025 and will increase the centre’s applied research, education and training capacity. The expanded CIM-TAC will grow to provide work-integrated learning opportunities for an estimated 450 post-secondary students and training through workshops and events to an additional 2,000 students annually by 2030. Additionally, more than 500 junior and senior high school students will take part in dual credit programs at the CIM-TAC.

“Investing in this expansion of CIM-TAC will give students at RDP access to cutting-edge technology and skills to succeed in the economy of tomorrow. The strategic investments we’re making in Budget 2024 are part of a forward-looking path to support the goals of our post-secondary institutions, grow Alberta’s economy and create jobs.”

Rajan Sawhney, Minister of Advanced Education

“The expansion will allow Alberta-based manufacturers across multiple sectors to have greater ability to develop, test and scale their ideas. Students will be engaged at the forefront of made-in-Alberta technologies and manufacturing solutions.This investment will help meet high demand from entrepreneurs and industry for applied research and will take the facility beyond its current capabilities to become an advanced technology training and hands-on learning centre.”

Nate Horner, President of Treasury Board and Minister of Finance

“This expansion project will build on the CIM-TAC’s 15 years of success and leverage the centre’s industry partnerships and manufacturing expertise to provide even more capacity for applied research, as well as education, training and work-integrated learning opportunities for students. We thank the Government of Alberta for this investment that will benefit not only RDP students and researchers, but also the entire central Alberta region and its critical industries like health care, agriculture, energy and construction.”

Stuart Cullum, president, Red Deer Polytechnic

“Manufacturing and advanced manufacturing are driving job-creation, economic growth and made-in-Alberta solutions that improve the lives of people around the world and right here at home. The funding to expand RDP’s CIM-TAC is an investment that will allow Alberta companies greater access to the tools, technology and next generation of skilled talent that will allow our industry to solve real-world challenges, develop better products and ultimately increase productivity.”

Darryl Short, CEO, Karma Machining and Manufacturing, and president, Karma Medical Products  

Quick facts

  • The expansion of CIM-TAC at RDP will support a variety of sectors through advanced manufacturing capabilities, including energy innovation, transportation, aviation and agriculture. The centre will also support RDP’s future expansion into more medical device manufacturing and health-care innovations to support both patients and providers.
  • RDP’s expansion of the CIM-TAC will grow the facility’s footprint from 15,000 square feet to 25,000 square feet.
  • The CIM-TAC currently houses $7.6 million of advanced manufacturing equipment.
  • In 2022, RDP attracted more than $2 million in applied research investment. RDP also completed 64 projects for 57 companies and participated in more than 1,300 engagements with industry partners.
  • Since the CIM-TAC’s inception in 2009, RDP has supported more than 300 industry partners (including repeat clients).
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