Keely Grossman wants high school students with disabilities to know that higher education is within their reach.And with that goal in mind, the Brock Social Justice and Equity Studies master’s student helped to organize a conference on campus this week to show teens that university life is a viable option for them.More than 40 students from high schools across southern Ontario attended Brock’s inaugural Ability Empowerment Day on Monday, April 29. Organized by Grossman and a committee of her peers from the Master of Arts in Social Justice and Equity Studies (SJES) program, the day includes a series of workshops and activities for students experiencing disability to discover opportunities in post-secondary education.Ability Empowerment Day co-organizer Kevin Hobbs leads a Mirror Theatre presentation.The conference was a passion project for Grossman, who has long dreamed of hosting an event of this nature.Being visually impaired, she knows all too well the challenges that a person with a disability can face when coming into a post-secondary environment. “People with disabilities are often devalued by society. Certain assumptions can be placed upon us. I wanted to break that mould and go to university,” said Grossman, who completed her undergraduate studies at Brock before pursuing her master’s degree. “When I arrived at Brock, I was fortunate to gain a wonderful mentor who really encouraged me. I wanted to start this event because I feel that young people with disabilities need to be invested in more and need that encouragement.”When Grossman began in the SJES program, she was “surrounded by a group of people that were as justice-passionate as I was.”This gave her hope that her vision for the conference could come to fruition.“It has been over a year in the making, and it wouldn’t have been possible without this team of dedicated people and the excellent support we received from the University,” she said.Ability Empowerment Day brought together nine Brock departments and seven services to showcase snippets of life at the University. Participants were treated to mini-workshops from various academic departments, lunch in Market Hall, a mock lecture where they practised note-taking and a presentation from Student Accessibility Services. They finished off the day with a Mirror Theatre presentation by Dramatic Arts students, which focused on advocacy skills centred around post-secondary education.Shelley Conliffe-Wiens, a work experience and guidance teacher at W. Ross Macdonald School for the Blind and Visually Impaired in Brantford, brought a group of students to the conference.“So much of the learning that visually impaired students do is through experiential learning and that truly was exemplified today at Brock,” she said. “The opportunity to take in a real-life lecture in the lecture hall was a fabulous learning tool for students to understand each of their needs and how they need to be active participants in working with the Student Accessibility Services to make sure that they have everything to be successful in their studies.”Conliffe-Wiens also commented on the friendliness of Brock students, faculty and staff.“People went out of their way to make us feel welcome,” she said. “The smallest of details were thorough and thoughtfully considered. I truly hope that this is just the first year of many to come. Real life opportunities like this are worth many a teaching moment in the classroom.”Kristen Smith, Manager, Student and Community Outreach, worked alongside Grossman and the organizing committee to help plan the day’s events.“Ability Empowerment Day was a wonderful opportunity to show potential students the possibilities available to all Brock students,” she said. “Working with a highly engaged group of student volunteers, staff and faculty on this project has been a wonderful example of how the Brock community can come together to support our local communities. Thank you to Keely Grossman and her colleagues in Social Justice and Equity Studies for recognizing the need, having a vision for the day and bringing it to life. I have been inspired by their hard work and dedication to the project.”Grossman and the committee felt that the day was a success.“I hope that Ability Empowerment Day helped our participants to see the value in themselves that we see,” she said. “I hope these students become contributors to their own futures. Seeing all of the high school students and the University community come together for this event was a truly wonderful experience.”The Ability Empowerment Committee included: Grossman and fellow Social Justice and Equity Studies students Kevin Hobbs, Anella Bieteru, Sarah Hurme, Bridget Nicholls and Robin Cummings, Smith, Sonya Forsey, Manager of Conference and Event Services, Bobbie McGhee, Transitions Program Co-ordinator, Student Wellness and Accessibility Centre, Carly Dugo, Recruitment Officer, Campus Initiatives, and Christopher Lytle, AODA Co-ordinator, Human Rights and Equity Services.
Sirius Minerals project area in North Yorksire, England contains the largest known, highest grade resource of polyhalite to be found anywhere in the world. The polyhalite resource of 2,660 Mt, as defined according to the JORC code, represents 7% of the project’s area of interest.Polyhalite will be extracted via two mine shafts and transported outside of the National Park to Teesside on a conveyer belt system in an underground tunnel. It will then be granulated at a materials handling facility, with the majority being exported to overseas markets. The company is aiming to achieve first product from the mine by the end of 2021, ramping up to an initial production capacity of 10 Mt/y and then full production of 20 Mt/y.Last week the Company held its first two jobs fairs in Skinningrove and Whitby, with local people securing roles and others being invited to interviews with construction contractors as a result. The events, which are being hailed as a resounding success, were attended by 700 people and were an opportunity for individuals who live in North Yorkshire and Redcar and Cleveland to find out more about the roles that are being created during the construction phase of the company’s polyhalite project. Construction jobs on the project are estimated to peak at 1,700.Many of these roles will be with the contractors, including DMC Mining Services, Strabag and Careys Civil Engineering (CCE), who joined staff from Sirius at the events. Scarborough Construction Skills Village and Redcar and Cleveland Council’s Routes to Employment Service were also in attendance to offer bespoke training advice, C.V. guidance and employment skills support.Pat Grenham, Senior Project Manager at Careys Civil Engineering said: “The standard of attendees at the events was exceptional. We have already employed seven local people as a result and we look forward to welcoming others to the team in the future.”Pauline Garnett, UK Director of Human Resources for DMC Mining Services, Sirius’ shaft sinking contractor, said: “There is a high level of industrial skill in the local area, and these events attracted some excellent talent. We have been delighted by the calibre of applicants and have shortlisted some of those in attendance at the jobs fairs for interview.”Jason Fawcett, Tunnel Construction Manager for Strabag, who are constructing the first tunnel drive of Sirius’ mineral transport system (MTS), was also at the events.“It was very encouraging to see the level of enthusiasm and skill on offer”, he said. “The job fairs have given us a strong understanding of the wide range of expertise and transferable skills on offer in the area. We are already interviewing candidates who we met at the events and will continue to do so.”In addition to its construction roles, the project is set to create approximately 1,000 jobs in operations and a further 1,450 in the supply chain.Matt Parsons, External Affairs General Manager for Sirius, said: “There has been a tremendous amount of interest in the jobs available within our Project and it’s fantastic that more local people are joining the team. Whilst we can’t guarantee everyone that attended will get a job, we hope that people found the sessions informative about the roles that will be created and how to access relevant training and support.”Meanwhile, leading construction materials supplier, Aggregate Industries has proven its credentials in its recent work at the Woodsmith mine development. Mine development is now well underway with a vast mine head at Woodsmith mine, Sneaton, with shafts 1,500m deep, and a 37-km tunnel to transport the potash to Wilton International near Redcar.Core to the state-of-the-art project is the supply and delivery of a vast high quality, hardstone aggregate to be used for road construction and ground stabilisation works. Subsequently, leading earthworks contractor, Collins Earthworks called on the services of expert Aggregate Industries to provide the vast material requirement.During the course of just seven months, running from May to December 2017, Aggregate Industries’ specialist team has since supplied 81,000 t of Type 3 sub-base aggregates and 9,000 t of Type 1 sub-base aggregates. A further 20,000 t of material was provided during January and February 2018.In order to effectively and sustainably manage the scale of supply demands, material has been sourced from the business’s Glensanda quarry and shipped to the nearby Teesside port, before being road hauled direct to the project. This approach has enabled the team to deliver in excess of 500 t/d, while operating a stringent quality procedure to ensure the material exceeded the structure and strength values required for the project.Dave Shaw, Site Manager at Collins Earthworks, said: “I would like pass on my thanks to Aggregate Industries for providing such a swift and efficient approach to our aggregate requirement which has been vital to keeping the project on schedule. Working on a project of this calibre and scale, it is vital to partner with genuine experts with not just the product capabilities but the expertise behind it, and the team haven’t failed to deliver. I’m sure this relationship will continue as we progress the project over the next four years.”John Taylor, sales manager, Aggregates North, comments: “Having worked on numerous projects of this size, we were able to apply our learnings to ensure an even more robust approach to the aggregate supply. From working closely with Collins Earthworks at the inventory stages, we have put a stringent plan in place to ensure a continuity of supply without disruption, ensuring the teams have the exact specific technical and quality specification of aggregate as and when they need it.”