The Ambassadors

The Ambassadors is a group of people with learning disabilities and ⁄or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, who upon request, will travel to different locations presenting to various audiences their own unique perspective about what it is like to have a learning disability. Each individual shares their personal journey of the obstacles they faced and how they managed to overcome these obstacles over time.

If you would like the Ambassadors to present to your group please call or e-mail Lisa Wolanski at:
lisawolanski@gmail.com
(514) 919-3813

History of the Ambassadors

The inspiration for our current Ambassador Program was sparked by an initiative called ‘The Ambassadors Project’, uncovered by the Montreal Centre of Learning Disabilities board member Cindy Blauer, in1999. While conducting research, Cindy heard about a team of students from a south shore high school that travelled to different schools presenting to children what it is like to have a learning disability. Being a firm believer in the value of ‘personal testimonies’, she suggested they present at an MCLD public meeting, but upon investigation, found that the group had disbanded.

In 2001, Cindy Blauer and Pam Wener, a fellow MCLD board member, created a new, ever-expanding group of inspiring people and named them the Ambassadors. In the fall of 2004 they were invited to come under the Montreal Centre of Learning Disabilities umbrella as one of their many services offered to the public. New Ambassadors of all ages have gradually joined the fold, each with their own unique profiles. The spectrum of types of learning challenges progressively widens: dysorthographia, dyslexia, dyscalculia, nonverbal and ADHD with or without hyperactivity.

Ambassador presentations typically include two or more presenters; each shares his /her own personal testimony about what it is like to have a learning disability or ADHD. They relay poignant stories of the trials and tribulations encountered along the path to where they are today; experiences in school and employment circumstances as well as with their personal relationships. Audience members are invited to ask questions and make comments throughout the presentation, which helps to build a connection between audience and speakers creating sincere and honest dialogue.

Audiences vary; the group has presented to a governing board, tutors at a literacy center (in Lennoxville), McGill University students studying at the B. Ed. and Masters levels, Early Childhood and Special Education CEGEP students, children in elementary schools, a group of students with special needs at the high school level, and a host of other high school classes at several schools in Montreal. They have also presented at public meetings for the MCLD to a mixed audience of parents, professionals and children. The greatest compliment to the Ambassadors is a call for a repeat performance, which happens frequently.

Testimonials

Over the years, audience members have offered appreciative and encouraging comments to the Montreal Centre of Learning Disabilities Ambassadors. A few of them are featured below:

“ What a great way to educate teachers on dealing with children with learning disabilities…it forces us to see the child and his needs, feelings… how he perceives and learns things in those stressful moments. Thank you for such an awesome teaching tool!”

“The importance of being patient and showing compassion to children who have special needs…helped me to realize… that certain behaviours might be signs of a learning disability.”

“I feel that I may have a bit of a learning disability…and contrary to some of my past grade and high school teachers’ point of view, I’m not lazy and I can’t try harder…”

“I admire your courage and ‘stubbornness’ as you call it. I feel that these traits are what made you who you are today, and they are helping you change the perspective of the world in regard to children with L.D.”

“The Ambassadors offer a unique service in training and sensitizing educators as well as the community about the true meaning of having a learning disability.”