2020 Difference Maker of the Year Awards

The Rick Hansen Foundation actively raises awareness about disability and accessibility in schools and communities across Canada through a variety of education and community outreach programs. One such program is the Difference Maker awards, an impact program that recognizes those individuals who are making a positive difference in the lives of others within their school or community.

Nominations are accepted annually for any student or educator that demonstrates their commitment to making the school environment a more accessible and inclusive place for people of all abilities. The Kootenay Lake School District is incredibly proud to announce two recipients of this year’s Difference Maker awards.

Creston student Alexis Folk has been recognized as a 2020 Student Difference Maker of the Year. Through her leadership and perseverance, Alexis has made a tremendous difference in the lives of students who participated in the Kootenay Project Adventure Program this year. The program was initially created to bring students together with vision loss, however Alexis had the vision to open it up to students with various disabilities.

Alexis’ involvement included helping to pursue and secure funding to ensure more students could be included in a dog-sledding day in Salmo. Alexis is a highly motivated student who has her heart set on pursuing a career in a medical field. She is not only a serious student, but a budding advocate for inclusion and accessibility. Congratulations Alexis!

The 2020 Educator Difference Maker of the Year has been awarded to Chris Mieske, a much admired grade 6 teacher at Trafalgar Middle School in Nelson. The Educator category recognizes champions and heroes who make a positive difference toward inclusion within their community. Chris embraces a guiding principle in his classroom, “leave no one behind” which creates an environment that embraces inclusion, tolerance, and diversity. 

This year his class included a student born with a rare neurological condition that affects mobility. Chris saw the opportunity to guide his grade six group through an experiential design challenge to build a personalized sled for the student, to ensure that the entire class could participate in the school’s winter activity days. The project beautifully weaved together math, science, engineering, art, English and physical education and relied on the assistance of District specialists to help support the class in understanding this student’s physical and social needs.

Both Alexis and Chris will be included in the official announcement this week (National AccessAbility Awareness Week - May 31 - June 6) by the Rick Hansen Foundation. They will also receive a signed letter from Rick Hansen, a Difference Maker certificate, and a $100.00 Indigo gift card.

Congratulations to both Alexis and Chris. We are so proud of you! Visit the Rick Hansen Foundation website: https://www.rickhansen.com/schools-communities/school-program/impact-stories


For more information:

Deanna Holitzki, Director of Instruction-Inclusive Education


About The Board of Education of School District No. 8 (Kootenay Lake):

The Board of Education of School District No. 8 provides educational services to numerous diverse communities in the East & West Kootenays, including Crawford Bay, Creston, Kaslo, Meadow Creek, Nelson, Salmo, Slocan, South Slocan, Winlaw, Wynndel and Yahk. Its dedicated team focuses on providing the best possible educational opportunities for over 5,400 students and their families. Its mission is to focus on excellence for all learners in a nurturing environment.