NEW PROGRAMS: I CAN SCHOOLS ONLINE

The mission of I CAN Network is to prove what Autistics CAN do. Our I CAN Schools Online program connects Autistic students with one another and empowers them through the insights, storytelling and facilitation of Autistic young professionals (I CAN Mentors).  

“It’s a place where I am safe to be myself each week”– Melanie, I CAN Online Mentee

As a response to the COVID-19 outbreak and widespread ‘lockdowns’, I CAN Network is offering ‘I CAN Schools Online’ nationally from April to September 2020. We want to ensure our Autistic kids and teenagers experience connection, belonging and self-esteem during this period of extraordinary disruption. 

What is the program? 

I CAN Schools Online is the online version of our successful face-to-face I CAN Schools program which has run in well over 100 Australian schools since 2014. This new program will draw upon our extensive experience as Australia’s national leader in delivering group mentoring to Autistic young people in schools and via online.
Practically the program will typically consist of 6 x 1 hour online sessions which aim to empower 8-19 Autistic students with self-acceptance, belonging, optimism and confidence. We achieve this through discussions and presentations on understanding Autism, managing change and anxiety, social interactions and celebrating Autistic interests. We complement these discussions with online games to create a fun, safe and engaging atmosphere.

When does the program run? 

The program runs for 1 hour (typically during school hours) at a time negotiated to suit the school and the assigned I CAN staff which will include a facilitator (or ‘Network Leader’) and a Mentor. At least one of the two staff must be Autistic.  

Which students are eligible? 

Primary school-aged students – Typically Grades 3-6 students are eligible to participate in our ‘I CAN Imagination Club program’. I CAN Imagination Club offers broad content relevant for students who are Autistic, or who have learning differences or experience social anxiety. Students join the program because they have a ‘big imagination’, not because they have a diagnosis. 

High school-aged students – There is no age limit on the high school students who can participate, however the students do need to be aware of their Autism diagnosis as the high school program explicitly promotes positive Autistic identity. 

Supporting a whole-of-school approach

Online parent information sessions – We support inclusivity in schools by running online parent information sessions. These are 1 hour sessions with two I CAN Network speakers, at least one of whom is Autistic. The purpose of these sessions is to give parents hope for their child’s future and provide insights and practical strategies that can support parents to give their child a strong ‘I CAN’ attitude. 

Online professional development workshops – We build the capacity of school staff (including teachers and support staff) by running 30 min or 1 hour online professional development workshops, delivered by two I CAN Network speakers, at least one of whom is Autistic. The purpose of these sessions is to empower teachers and support staff to create relationships and learning environments which make it safe for Autistic/ neuro diverse learners to take risks and manage anxiety levels. 


PACKAGES – PRIMARY AND HIGH SCHOOLS

The below school packages can be customised to suit each school’s needs. These packages are not relevant for existing I CAN Schools programs which have been converted to online delivery because of COVID-19. Online professional development talks can also be delivered in 30 minute sessions at a cost of $275 inc GST. 


To enquire about your I CAN Schools Online package, write to us at: [email protected]

Due to the rapidly changing landscape with the COVID-19 outbreak, we may need to put caps on the total number of I CAN Schools Online programs if demand outpaces our staffing capacity. We encourage interested schools to reach out to us as soon as possible to help ensure that we are able to serve your school community.

For the past six plus years, we have been a pioneer and national leader in providing group mentoring for Autistic young people across Australia. In these uncertain times, our work is more important than ever.

As we face unchartered territory in the face of COVID-19, we hope to have the opportunity to support your school community.

Chris Varney on behalf of our I CAN Network team

Related article: WHY AUTISTIC-LED MENTORING MATTERS

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