I only recently started thinking about “inclusion” as the opposite of “exclusion.”
I am not sure why this did not occur to me before. Perhaps it was because “inclusion” is something that we talk about in the context of classrooms, as a strategy, as a definition we place on programming.
Senta Greene offers an explanation of “inclusion” in a broader context… in all situations, including schools and families and social activities.
When I heard her speak last month, she really made me think about this concept more, and to put it together with our snkids.org PRIDE initiative — through which we hope to break through stigmas, and encourage celebration and pride in differences and strengths.
I began to think more about how exclusion impacts us all… how we may take for granted the activities we participate in, until, by circumstance, we might exit the realm of “typical” or “normal” behavior as a result of a disability or special needs — and then, are we still welcome to participate?
Sadly, I think that too often the answer is “no.”
With pride, stigma, self-worth, confidence and self-esteem on the line for all kids, especially those with special needs and unique qualities and sometimes atypical behavior, I sincerely hope that we, as a community, can become more willing to consider the impacts of our choices to exclude those who are not just like us, and that despite our fears and underlying biases, and decide that inclusion is worth the effort.
Are you willing to make a commitment to live inclusively?
In furtherance of my hope for a better world for children with special needs who have essentially been made to feel invisible, I offer this Inclusion Pledge for your consideration.