Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Inclusion, Acceptance and Tolerance Everywhere

Inclusion is part of a much larger picture then just placement in the regular class within school.  It is being included in life and participating using one's abilities in day to day activities as a member of the community.  Being included is being a part of what everyone else is, and being welcomed and embraced as a member who belongs.  Inclusion should occur everywhere, in schools, churches, playgrounds, work and in recreation. 

We all want to feel wanted.  We all want to be included in certain things that are happening around us.  Feeling accepted, welcomed or embraced into your surroundings is important to everyone.  We all have things that we are capable of contributing to those around us.  We all have a way to make a difference in the world around us.  Finding our place within our family and our community is important.  And being accepted into that role is equally important. 

As human beings, regardless of having a disability or not, we all have basic needs that need to be met in order to feel fulfilled.  Our basic needs of food, water and shelter are necessary for us to exist.  But having meaning and purpose to what you do and who you are, provides inspiration.  Feeling useless or doing things that are meaningless, decreases motivation and self esteem.  A sense of belonging, being loved, having relationships, and friendships with others enriches our lives. 

Some of the benefits of inclusion to the person are:

* Improved feelings of well-being and self-esteem
* Access to resources and activities not available in the group home.
* Expanded "horizons"/life experiences.  Participating in activities in different types of settings.
* Participation - engaging with others; being known.
* Feeling the excitement of being part of a community group
* Opportunities to make new friends and develop new and varied relationships.
* Incentive to learn appropriate social behavior.

Some of the benefits of inclusion to the community are:

* More diversity in their relationships.
* The cost of supporting people decreases when persons served do not have to rely on paid 
    professionals.  This can affect tax dollars needed to provide supports.
* People with disabilities can pay taxes if they have a job.
* People with disabilities share their gifts and talents with the community.
* People in the community can become better educated about differences.

Even if a person isn't able to actually work in the community, just by acknowledging someone out in the community, making eye contact, saying "Hi' or giving a smile as you walk by is important too.  No one wants to feel invisible in the world around them, we all want to feel accepted wherever we go.

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