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Success Story: ATA local supports members on extended disability

September 25, 2018 Catherine Melnychuk, Special to the ATA News
L-R: Susan Kolbowicz, Catherine Melnychuk and Christine Rutherford are members of the Extended Disability Group of Edmonton Public Teachers Local No. 37.

Disability is not a subject that is front of mind for teachers, and yet every year for myriad health reasons some teachers find themselves having to be placed on extended disability leave (EDB). Being on disability presents a number of challenges to negotiate, from financial to emotional. Teachers in our local are fortunate to have the Extended Disability Group to offer assistance. We believe that Edmonton Public Teachers Local No. 37 is the only ATA local in Alberta to have an active program to provide this type of peer support.

The Extended Disability Group is administered by teaching peers who are themselves on disability. The topics for meetings reflect the concerns and wishes raised by attendees. Meetings strike a balance between guest speakers on topics such as embracing change and handling stress to social activities like bowling, board games, attending plays and visiting greenhouses.

Our June wrap-up meeting was held at the Muttart Conservatory in Edmonton, which provided for a very enjoyable afternoon.

Regardless of the reason for being on disability, the Extended Disability Group offers a valuable opportunity to interact with understanding and encouraging peers. If you are an Edmonton Public teacher on EDB, consider joining us. The 2018/19 meetings will be held on Oct. 2, Dec. 4, March 5, May 7 and June 4. Contact the local office for more information ( ❚

Catherine Melnychuk is a steering committee member of the Extended Disability Group of Edmonton Public Teachers Local No. 37.

Call for Submissions

Success Stories is an ongoing feature that enables teachers to share their successes with their colleagues. To submit an idea or an article about a new program or approach that you’ve instituted, please contact managing editor Cory Hare at


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