Renee Smith has been painting from a young age. Her mother told her she would be an artist early on because she was gripping pencils even as a toddler.
Today her artwork is on display at the Community Integration through Co- operation Education (CICE) office at Durham College.
She is a second year student taking art classes through CICE. Her preference is colour and preferably bright colours. “It has to be pleasing to the eye,” says Smith when describing the kind of art she does.
She has done people as well as landscapes. “Bringing the outdoors to the inside,” says Smith about the landscape paintings within the walls of the CICE office.
Smith also says her art classes have made her think about art in a different way. One of her classes did something called ‘guerilla art,’ where are is placed in secret in unusual places such as bathrooms and windows. People do not
expect to see art in these areas, she says, which mean it is surprising as well as pleasing to the eye.
Tucked away on the second floor of the I-Wing, the CICE program enables students who have disabilities to be successful within the Durham College community.
CICE works with students so that they can understand lectures through note-taking assistance as well as weekly meetings to help students complete assignments.
Shauna Moore is Smith’s learning facilitator (LF). In Smith’s case note-taking is essential since Smith cannot do it herself. Moore also goes over class material to make sure Smith understands what is being taught and to answer any questions that might come up through the course review.
Moore has been worked with CICE for nine years. Her role as an LF varies depending on the level of disability and the needs of the student. Moore says even though these students have some degree of disability they do need to function at a level that allows them to be independent enough for complete assignments, as well as doing work placement.
“There’s an interview process and a job description and students need to be able to do that when they come into the program,” says Moore.
Courses are modified so students can understand assignments but they still need to keep up with course.
Moore says there are 20 first year and 20 second year students in the CICE program but she hopes more students will come to learn there in the future.
Students are made aware of the CICE program through high school counsellors who recommend the program. This was the case for Smith, who had a counsellor tell her about CICE after seeing her art.
There are also campaigns though high schools for students who could benefit but don’t work closely with counsellors.
Moore is proud of the program and the success that the students have had with placements. For second year, Smith was able to get a placement as an instructor at an art studio, one of the options she was hoping for.