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Retired Catholic superintendent recognized for pioneering inclusive education

Retired Superintendent of Education for the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board, James (Jim) Hansen has been recognized by the Canadian Association for Community Living for his pioneering efforts in the area of inclusive education. On Monday, April 4, 2011, Mr. Hansen was presented with the association’s national Inclusive Education Award, awarded each year to one individual or organization from each of Canada’s 13 provinces and territories. A presentation ceremony was held at St. Thomas More Catholic Secondary School, 1045 Upper Paradise Road, Hamilton, at 2:30pm.
Mr. Hansen was a Superintendent of Education for the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board from 1968 to 1991. Believing strongly that all students belonged in neighbourhood schools with their siblings and friends, Mr. Hansen developed an ‘Each Belongs’ philosophy that has been widely adopted throughout Canada and the world. “And why wouldn’t we?” has always been Mr. Hansen’s response.
At an October 2010 celebration honouring 40 years of ‘Each Belongs’, Mr. Hansen said: “Children have different needs. It’s our responsibility as Catholic educators to meet the needs of all of our children in a warm, welcoming and accepting environment where each child is valued for his or her own special qualities.”
“Long before Bill 82 came into being, Jim’s passion for inclusion blazed a trail far beyond his local school board and smashed pre-conceived notions of ability along the way,” wrote nominator Donna Marcaccio, Executive Director of RYGIEL Supports for Community Living.
“For me, the genius of ‘Each Belongs’ flows out of our Catholic vision of the child that each and every child is created in the unique image of a loving God,” said Daly. “When we understand, believe and accept that, then clearly each and every child belongs in their local school with their brothers and sisters and with their friends.”
“Mr. Hansen’s leadership, passion and good example were instrumental to the board’s commitment to this philosophy,” added Daly.
Today, the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board is an internationally recognized leader in inclusive education and serves as a model for the ‘Each Belongs’ philosophy.



Addressing exclusion

If the right to education for all is to become a reality, we must ensure that all learners have access to quality education that meets basic learning needs and enriches lives. Still, today, millions of children, youth and adults continue to experience exclusion within and from education around the world.