Barbara Laird - Biography
BARBARA LAIRD BEd. is a “retired” teacher, who has a 35 year old son Matthew, and a 28 year old daughter, Melanie. Melanie has Down Syndrome. Personal experience with Melanie has compelled Barbara to become an advocate for all persons with disabilities at a local, provincial and Canadian level, especially in areas centering on educational issues. As the “teacher” in her has never died, she is always eager to share information, strategies, resources and research gleaned and gathered in her continuous search for the best practices that support all students.
Barbara has been supporting children, parents and professionals through personal and group consulting with parents and professionals. She is involved in advocacy and support to individuals and groups and in presenting Awareness Workshops to students in individual classrooms at all grade levels. She has also presented workshops at conferences, for school boards, parent groups and other agencies and societies across Canada and in the United States. In August, 2006 Barbara was honored to be an oral and a poster presenter at the 9th World Down Syndrome Congress held in Vancouver, British Columbia. She has also written articles that have been published by several non profit societies.
In 2009 Barbara was honored to win the Champion of Inclusive Education Award from the Canadian Living Association and the B.C. Community Living Association for her service, support and advocacy for Inclusive Education in preschool, elementary, secondary school and post secondary institutions. In 2012, Barbara was honored to receive a Queen Elizabeth 11 Diamond Jubilee Medal for her advocacy on behalf of all persons with
disabilities, and for her passionate belief in and promotion of Inclusion for all.
Barbara was involved with the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation, through the Riley Park Community Association for many years. As Program Chair and President she was instrumental in integrating the preschool and in helping with the building of four playgrounds, two of which are inclusive. The "Rock", a unique climbing structure at Riley Park, was her last project before retiring from the board.
Barbara continues to be involved with the Special Education Advisory Committee of the Vancouver School Board. She is a founding member and past board member of the Down Syndrome Research Foundation and Steps Forward Inclusive Post Secondary Education Society. She is presently a board member of the Blazin Soccer Dogs and Pups. She has been a committee member in planning the 2010 and 2012 Health and Wellbeing in Children, Youth and Adults with Developmental Disabilities Conference and will participate again in the 2014 one, to be held here in Vancouver.
Barbara and her friend Carolyn Payne have formalized their educational consulting partnership. Through BEYOND THE BOX BASICS, they provide professional development for educators, professionals and parents that supports all students with diverse learning needs.