CORE support for special education needs

- Crystal Bergeron

While most of us were snuggled up opening gifts in front of the fire this holiday season, the Faculty of Education was the lucky recipient of perhaps one of the greatest gifts of all: the opportunity to give back to the community.

With a generous bequest from an anonymous donor, the faculty will launch the Centre for Outreach Education (CORE) on Wednesday, Jan. 19, in its new home in the MacLaurin building.

CORE is a multidisciplinary centre dedicated to enhancing the education of children and youth from our local communities, many whose needs are, unfortunately, not being met through schools and current government programs.

The driving force behind the centre is Dr. Jillian Roberts, associate dean administration and associate professor of special education, who leads a faculty steering committee of 17 dedicated to implementing the vision for CORE.

“My passion for CORE comes from working with children in the community as a registered psychologist,” says Roberts. “I see children every day who struggle to get the support they need in today’s public schools. With larger-than-ideal class sizes, cuts to special education, and sweeping changes to the delivery of services offered by children’s agencies, many children are falling between the cracks.”

The centre will offer a variety of services, free of charge, to children and youth who need them the most. Faculty members from the Departments of Curriculum and Instruction, Educational Psychology and Leadership Studies, and the School of Exercise Science, Health and Physical Education will provide their expertise along with graduate and undergraduate students specializing in teacher education, recreation and health education and kinesiology.

CORE’s inaugural programs will include:

  • CORE Club—an after-school program that teams local schoolchildren with Education faculty members and student teachers for reading and homework assistance;
  • InclusionWorks!—helping young adults with developmental disabilities to make the transition from high school into the work world;
  • Tools for Success—a tutoring program for children living with epilepsy, run in partnership with the Victoria Epilepsy and Parkinson’s Centre;
  • CORE Fun—an after-school program that provides a variety of extracurricular activities—drama, artwork, yoga, music, nature presentations—to children on a rotating basis.

Kelly Bradley, mother of nine-year-old daughter Leigha, is thrilled her daughter will be able to participate in the centre’s programs. “It’s very hard for my husband and me to find appropriate and supported extra-curricular activities for our daughter to attend,” she says. “To be able to leave Leigha in capable hands and not have to worry that she isn’t appropriately supported means everything to us. It allows us a breather from parenting such a high-needs child as well as provides much needed academic support. It really does ‘take a village to raise a child’ and we’re so thankful for this amazing gift of support.”

Dean of Education Dr. Ted Riecken is thankful for the opportunity to connect the university, the faculty and families in such a positive way. “I believe the donor whose bequest has funded CORE would be extremely pleased. Connecting like this is part of the shared mandate of schools and universities, and we are fortunate to have additional resources to allow us to launch such an initiative. CORE will be an important part of our ongoing fundraising efforts so we can ensure continuation of its programs and activities.”

For more information on the programs and services CORE will provide, contact Kristina Copestake at 250-721-7862 or

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Keywords: Centre for Outreach Education, youth, community

People: Jillian Roberts

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