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International Association of Special Education

Fostering a Global Exchange of Ideas and Information

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Keynote Speakers - Nadine Bakas-Howarth & Evan Howarth

Nadine Bakas-Howarth is a single parent of 19 year old twins Evan and Hannah. Nadine and her family’s home town is Nelson, a small city located in the Selkirk Mountains in the Southern Interior of British Columbia. Her son Evan was diagnosed with autism at the age of 4. For the past 15 years, Nadine has been a strong advocate for her son Evan. She balances her life with her work as a florist and martial art school administrator along with her hobbies that include skiing, cycling, kayaking. Through her family focus and passion about her children, she became committed to helping her son achieve his goals and build upon his dreams. Most recently, Nadine presented at the Kootenay Autism Conference, where she was part of the panel that included their local paediatrician and school psychologist to address the importance of early detection and diagnosis. Nadine says that “having a son with autism has taught her how to love unconditionally, speak without words, and live with fierce courage and hope beyond dreams.”

Evan Howarth has just earned his 2nd degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do. He trains with his twin sister Hannah at a local school that is associated with the United States Chung Do Kwan Association (USCDKA). The Senior Grand Masters Edward and Brenda Sell are the Presidents of this association and the highest ranked Black Belts in the world, 9th degree. They evaluated Evan to permit his application to test for his 1st and 2nd degree black belts. Evan's evaluation was very high. He scored 8.5 out of 10. Evan instructs class, he leads the opening warm up session and works one-on-one with students that are ranked below him. He is being seasoned right now to take over his own class. The Master feels he is ready to do so. Evan has participated in tournaments that have been held in Nelson, BC and is now being encouraged to attend the national training conference in Florida at the United States Chung Do Kwan Association (USCDKA). In 2011, Evan was nominated for and received a BC Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) Yes I Can award in the area of athletics. He was nominated by his high school principal after his examination for 1st degree black belt and instructor’s certification in the fall of 2010. Impressed with his achievements, the BC CEC nominated Evan for the International CEC Yes I Can award. In April 2012, Evan received an International Council for Exceptional Children Yes I Can award in Denver, Colorado for his accomplishments in the area of athletics.

Evan graduated from high school in June 2012 and currently attends the transitional training program at his local college. Evan balances school with 5 paying jobs and works a total of 17 hours per week. This includes teaching at the Kootenay Christian Martial Arts School, working at Wal-Mart and Kootenay Country Co-op, and providing janitorial services at Kootenay Bakery and Bigby Place. Evan is supported and liked by his community.


Evan thanks his twin sister Hannah for her patience and dedication, as she has been a great source of strength and companionship as well as a remarkable role model. Evan enjoys participating in many hobbies with his family, such as skiing, dog walking, kayaking, playing the piano, cycling, skating, skiing, swimming, bowling, camping, cooking and playing video games. Evan believes that being included in his community has helped him achieve his amazing success. He is a true inspiration!

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