Every month, Awesome Kingston gives away a $1,000 micro-grant to a local project pitched by its creator(s). These days, the pitch party is happening virtually, but the outcome is still the same: No-strings-attached money is given to the winner to help them develop the projects that Awesome Kingston thinks will keep Kingston awesome.
The winner of the microgrant for the month of March was Lauren Edmunds with her project Active Seating for Active Minds. Edmunds, a teacher at Frontenac Secondary School, said her project hopes to improve the school experience for neurodivergent and neurotypical students.
“While school is one of my favourite places to be, as a teacher, I know that isn’t the case for everyone,” she explained. “It can be hard to sit in the same spot for basically six hours straight. No one would disagree. Now that we are in a global pandemic, there’s even more sitting! This has a tremendous impact on some neurodivergent students. Simple tools such as the body break, which help many ADHD students, are not an option anymore, and they can’t walk around the room either.”
The Active Seating for Active Minds project will purchase tools to assist these students, specifically ‘active seating’ options to help curb restlessness for some students.
“My primary research indicates that a wobble stool and weighted exercise chairs are the most cost-effective chair replacements,” Edmunds continued. “Working with the LPS (resource) teacher and through conversations with colleagues, we will identify some students who could benefit from these active seats. I will check in with these students over weeks and months to see what impact they feel these chairs make.”
In addition to the selected students, Edmunds will examine how these tools can benefit all students. She said the funds will be allocated to a very cost-friendly option with mass appeal. “Selected students will receive wobble stools and weighted exercise balls,” she said. “Then we will be mass purchasing resistance bands (and/or similar product and at similar price points) to provide this opportunity for as many students with either neurodivergent or neurotypical brains for data collection — but mostly for their benefit!”
Edmunds will also track the student’s progress and thoughts about the use of these ‘active seating’ products.
“Ultimately, the data collected will be used to take this project to the next step. I want to make this an option for more students with a Limestone Learning Foundation or Community Grant,” she said.
When asked how she’s feeling after being chosen for the Awesome Kingston microgrant, Edmunds said she’s excited and hopeful.
“I was a student not too long ago and remember the difficulties the traditional classroom presents. Having access to tools like these would have been extremely helpful,” she shared with Kingstonist. “While roughly one-quarter of our students have formal Individual Education Plans, these tools could benefit far more of our student population. I was diagnosed at 29 with ADHD and I can’t look back, but I can work hard to ensure that my students are getting what they need to succeed.”