Press Kit

Press Release 4/28/2024 Wingspan UBC:

Wingspan: Dis/ability Arts, Culture and Public Pedagogy expands its Dis/Deaf Artists Program to become national, featuring Internationally Renowned Jugpreet Bajwa. Wingspan will document the journeys of all the artists and students in a documentary.

Internationally renowned Jugpreet Bajwa, an Indo-Canadian classical, folk, and rock singer, will work with students to create a performance to showcase at Seaquam Secondary School and Elsie Roy Elementary on May 31, 2024. The Honourable Carla Qualtrough will provide welcome words.


For immediate release: Vancouver, BC: Wingspan Dis/Ability Arts, Culture & Public Pedagogy is Canada’s first accessible and inclusive Disability and Deaf Artist Residency Program in Canada’s schools and is a UBC VPRI Excellence Cluster. In 2024, under the leadership of Dr. Leslie G. Roman, UBC Professor of Educational Studies and visionary for the Wingspan program, in collaboration with an interdisciplinary cluster of colleagues, asks: how can the aims of Canada’s Accessibility Act take center stage in the hearts and minds of students, teachers, and staff in partner K-12 schools? Like starlings in a murmuration, Wingspan has flown into schools in three Wing Provinces: British Columbia, Manitoba, and Ontario. Wingspan, this year, has gone national.

“Creating inclusion begins with educating students, teachers, and educational leaders that disabilities or Deafness are not something to fear or feel shame about. The more we learn, the more we appreciate what artists with disabilities and Deafness bring to the table of our schools (K-12) and our entire educational system”, says Prof. Roman, a leading scholar of disability studies and sociology of education. Artists have been placed in K-12 schools or as touring artists who perform in art galleries, museums, or community centers.

Artists and teachers have been co-teaching in five schools and four districts nationwide. School districts include: The BC Wing-the Vancouver School Board’s Elsie Roy Elementary and the Delta School District’s Seaquam Secondary; Ontario Wing-the Toronto School District Board; the Oasis Secondary Alternative School Sites of Art and Social Change and the Skateboard Factory; and the Manitoba Wing-the Winnipeg School Division’s Greenway Elementary and Churchill High School.

The program began in February with a retreat at Loon Lake Lodge in Maple Ridge, BC, to co-train the teachers, artists, and staff. Students in schools have had the opportunity to have sustained learning experiences with artists with disabilities or Deafness in residencies of up to 8 weeks. They have also been treated to experiences of touring artists and taken on field trips to art galleries to exhibit their art or hear the performances of Wingspan artists or perform alongside them. Celebrations of learning or showcases feature not only the work of the Wingspan artists but, most importantly, what the students have learned from the role model artists in their classrooms in each Wing province.

BC’s two school districts, Delta and Vancouver, are thrilled to have Jugpreet Bajwa, an Indo-Canadian Classical, Folk and Rock singer, working with their students. Jugpreet brings his talent and motivation to Jesse Costello’s grade four classroom at Elsie Roy Elementary in Vancouver and Andrew Robinson’s grades 11 and 12 English and Literature classes, as well as the classrooms of teachers in Delta’s Seaquam Secondary program in the Fine Arts classrooms from music to theatre, from grades 9-12.

Canadian audiences will know Jugpreet Bajwa from his celebrity status as a televised performer of our national anthem at Vancouver Canuck and Whitecap games, as well as the U.S. anthem for the Stanley Cup playoffs. Jugpreet Bajwa’s musical journey began at the tender age of five. It evolved into a lifelong passion despite facing the adversity of Eye Cancer, to which he lost both of his eyes. With a degree in Indian Classical Music and a Diploma in Western Classical Music, Jugpreet sings in 16 languages. A graduate of Seaquam, he returns as a role model and a barrier-breaker to achieving post-secondary education degrees.

Barriers to all facets of education, post-secondary education, and employment are multiple, from economic to cultural and structural. A significant proportion of youth with disabilities aged 15 or older report experiencing bullying and being excluded or avoided at school. Wingspan has been creating a culture of artfully performing inclusion in our schools to redress ablism and create awareness to advocate for the resources to close well-documented gaps for the institutional support for students with disabilities or Deafness. Jugpreet Bajwa defies the grim statistics reported in Statistics Canada 2022 and the barriers to entering and completing post-secondary education. He attributes his success to good mentors at his high school, such as school counsellor Mark Arends. Cultures of inclusion mean having the school-based language to tackle ablism and provide counter-narratives and peer and school-based supports. Jugpreet Bajwa’s accomplishments include triumphs in international singing contests, performing in over 1000 shows globally and judging musical competitions. He has represented Canada at FICCI Frames in India and received honours such as the Darpan Awards for Breaking Barriers, the Drishti Award for Innovation in Arts, and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. The release of numerous albums and singles in various genres and languages reflects his life’s mission: spreading love and peace through music globally.

Wingspan artists are tackling stereotypes and co-teaching with adventurous teachers who are taking up the challenge of teaching about disabilities and Deafness as enriching differences, identity, and pride. “Our attitudes towards people with disabilities need a major overhaul – and the place to start is in our public schools,” says Dr. Leslie Roman. During their residencies, the artists will be visible, creating conversations about accessibility, inclusion, ableism, and school-wide disability and Deaf pride in school­wide assemblies, co-teaching and performing in their artistic media, and providing the schools with new lenses through which to see art made by artists with disabilities or hear about their experiences through their unique voices and stories.

Following the journey in the classrooms is NFB award-winning director Thomas Buchan, who is filming the experiences of the Wingspan program in all three provinces for a documentary. Thomas is a Director and Director of Photography (DOP) for several feature documentaries, collaborating with the National Film Board (NFB), CBC, and the Knowledge Network. He is co-directing this film with Prof. Roman.

The Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Sport and Physical Activity, has strongly supported Wingspan since its inception. A successful human rights lawyer and Paralympic swimmer, Minister Qualtrough is a champion for Delta and is committed to addressing inequality and advocating diversity. Minister Qualtrough has been visually impaired since birth. In 2016, she first emphasized eliminating barriers for youth and all Canadians with disabilities nationally and globally. Honourable Qualtrough looks forward to providing welcoming words at the BC Showcase at Seaquam Secondary School in the Delta on May 31, 2024. Press and the public are invited to the Showcase at 3:00 – 6:00 p.m.

Wingspan artists, film directors, teachers, cluster leaders, and educational leaders for both districts are available for interviews, photos, and more information upon request. School visits and showcase media visits are welcome.

For more information, photos, and interviews, please contact:

Lesley Diana | Wingspan Publicist |


Wingspan Dis/Ability Arts, Culture & Public Pedagogy:

Vice President of Research and Innovation Cluster at UBC

The Department of Educational Studies, UBC, Faculty of Education:

Jugpreet Bajwa –

Seaquam Secondary School –

Elsie Roy Elementary School –

Wingspan Showcase Free to the public – May 31st at 3:00 – 6:00 p.m. at Seaquam School 11584 Lyon Road, Delta, BC, V4E 2K4 604-591-6166



First Press Release 4/1/2019 Wingspan UBC:

Artists with Disabilities and Deafness take Centre Stage, shining their light in Lower Mainland schools
Students to meet creative Stereotype-busters and Role Models: Artists with Disabilities and Deafness

On April 1, 2019 UBC’s Wingspan Cluster launches Canada’s first accessible and inclusive Disability and Deaf Artist- Residency Program in 7 Lower Mainland schools in an 8-week immersive encounter with K-12 students. Students in the Vancouver and Delta School Districts will learn from creative stereotype-busters and role models whose art forms are shaped in part by their experiences of living with disabilities or Deafness. Wingspan erases deficit thinking in favour of the idea that disabilities and Deafness are enriching differences that compose Canadian and global diversity. Students will have a rich learning opportunity to work first-hand with nationally and internationally regarded artists ranging from a comedian with facial differences who turns stereotypes of monstrosity to learning about one’s inner beauty, from painters and photographers who are blind to a songstress who advocates for  mental health or an actor, play write and film star who is quadriplegic. Each artist will tackle stereotypes and co-teach with adventurous teachers who are taking up the challenge of teaching about disabilities as both art and enriching difference, identity and pride. “Our attitudes towards people with disabilities need a major overhaul –   and the place to start is in our public schools,” says Dr. Leslie Roman, UBC Professor of Educational Studies and visionary for the Wingspan UBC program, in collaboration with an interdisciplinary cluster of colleagues. During the 8 week residency, the artists will co-teach in host classrooms and participate widely across the schools. They will be visible creating school-wide disability and Deaf pride in school-wide assemblies, co-teaching and performing in their artistic craft, and providing the schools new lenses through which to see art made by artists with disabilities in their own unique voices and stories.

While the pilot begins in British Columbia, it is already attracting national and international interest. Professor Roman explains, “Wingspan has a national goal of impacting the ways inclusion and accessibility are taught by learning from actual artists with disabilities in classrooms across the country. In the meantime, Dr. Roman’s team is keeping their eyes on the progress of Bill C-81, the Accessible Canada Act: An Act to Ensure a Barrier-free Canada. Wingspan can fulfill the promise of this legislation in grounded locally realizable school contexts on a national scale, bringing Canada up to speed with the US Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) passed into law in 1990.

The program will extend from April 1 to May 30 and conclude with a showcase of the work of all the students of the 7 schools along with their artist mentors June 17-19 at Kitsilano Secondary School. “Today’s students participating in Wingspan UBC are tomorrow’s citizens, voters, leaders and policy-makers”, says Dr. Roman, “bringing with them the knowledge and experience of a more accessible and inclusive society”.


The following artists were rigorously selected and will be leading Canada’s Wingspan Residency Program:

ACTOR: James Sanders, BFA SFU, Founding Artistic Director of Realwheels. His professional career includes acting writing and producing for stage and screen. Quadriplegic from a spinal cord injury, James is committed to positive and accurate representations of disability in the media.

PHOTOGRAPHER: Cathy Browne is a lifestyle, travel and events photographer, public relations professional and vice- chair of the Persons with Disabilities Advisory Committee for the City of Vancouver, who happens to be legally blind.Her camera captures a world she doesn’t see.

COMEDIAN /ACTOR /WRITER: David Roche is a writer, inspirational humorist and actor, best known for his signature show, The Church of 80% Sincerity, which transforms the challenges and gifts of living with a facial difference into a compelling message that uplifts and delights audiences around the world. David’s works with youth around the world in classrooms internationally from the White House to CNN, from Sydney Olympics to schools in North America. The Church of 80% Sincerity showcases his many talents. His facial difference, compel him to deal with the public and private pain of being perceived as ‘ugly’, ‘menacing’, ‘evil’ and ‘dangerous’ in a society that traffics in limiting norms of Western beauty. He has performed in schools and worked with students at every age level throughout the US, Australia, the UK, Canada and all over Europe.

SINGER/SONGWRITER: Sarah Jickling is a Canadian indie singer/songwriter who lives with bipolar disorder,anxiety disorder, OCD, and PTSD. Sarah performs across the country with her band, My Good Bad Luck. BC. Sarah Jickling, Canadian Indie Singer Songstress) is also a mental health advocate. Over the past few years, Jickling’s whimsical indie- pop songs have been featured on radio stations across the country and in independent films. The twenty six year old uses her music to spread mental health awareness, and has opened up about her experiences with Bipolar Disorder and Anxiety Disorder on radio, local television, podcasts, blogs and at live speaking events. She was a finalist for Canada’s top 50 mentorship award for work with youth.

VISUAL ARTIST: Richard Harlow is a painter and photographer whose works include tactile media to experience through touch, and hung at universal height which is accessible for wheelchair-users. Richard fuels his art with activism as a direct response to his experience of living with blindness. His tactile paintings eliminate the barriers in the art world created by so-called abled bodies for the able-bodied. Since people with disabilities often live in poverty,  my art is accessible. I want to show that no person has limits to what they can accomplish and that having a disability is not the end. It’s only the beginning of a new chapter.

VISUAL ARTIST: Kelsie Grazier, currently of Ladner, holds a BFA from Emily Carr, a B.Ed in Secondary Fine Arts Education, as well as an M.Ed in Deaf Education from UBC. Her current paintings depict her life experiences of suddenly becoming profoundly deaf while completing her second degree. She juxtaposes architecturally-designed canvases of simple lines with the aural noise of Tinnitus, which is the perception of noise or ringing in the ears common to those experiencing hearing loss.

With prior arrangement through the publicist, all artists CAN BE available for interviews, Arrangements for media to observe the project in the schools must be coordinated through the Vancouver and Delta School Districts’ Communications Teams to secure the necessary permissions.


Lesley Diana
Phone: 604.726.5575
Iatse 669 Senior Publicist