Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Inclusion... beyond the classroom

I've been thinking about the topic of "INCLUSION" a lot lately... and I just wanted to get some of my thoughts out there. 

As a teacher, Inclusion means that everyone belongs and everyone will have their needs met while they are in my care.

As a parent, Inclusion means that my children are all different and I need to treat them as such.  

As a Christian, Inclusion means that I need to see people as Jesus sees them... PERFECT in every aspect.

As a member of society, Inclusion means that we must respect the human RIGHTS of others and enable EVERYONE to be a part of the world we share.

What does "INCLUSION" mean to you?

So many people think of this buzz word "inclusion," as a school thing.  But, stop to think about it... no, REALLY THINK about it... INCLUSION is actually a HUMAN thing. 

Wheel chair accessible parks and trails, Handicapped parking stalls, Welfare programs, our Canadian medicare system, drug rehabilitation centres, various occupations requiring various levels of education, TTY phone systems, Gluten free menus, etc, etc, etc, etc... the list goes on and on.  Little accommodations to make the world (or our country anyway) accessible to all.

Just as ALL people have a right to exist and have their needs met in society, so too do ALL children have a right to an education.  It might not look the same as the student sitting in the desk next to them... but FAIR does not mean that everyone gets the SAME treatment.  FAIR means that everyone gets what they NEED. 

I leave you with this wonderful poem.  If you have ever loved anyone with a disability, hidden or not, you will be touched by these words:

The Misunderstood Child
A poem about children with hidden disabilities
by Kathy Winters
I am the child that looks healthy and fine.
I was born with ten fingers and toes.
But something is different, somewhere in my mind,
And what it is, nobody knows.
I am the child that struggles in school,
Though they say that I'm perfectly smart.
They tell me I'm lazy -- can learn if I try --
But I don't seem to know where to start.
I am the child that won't wear the clothes
Which hurt me or bother my feet.
I dread sudden noises, can't handle most smells,
And tastes -- there are few foods I'll eat.
I am the child that can't catch the ball
And runs with an awkward gait.
I am the one chosen last on the team
And I cringe as I stand there and wait.
I am the child with whom no one will play --
The one that gets bullied and teased.
I try to fit in and I want to be liked,
But nothing I do seems to please.
I am the child that tantrums and freaks
Over things that seem petty and trite.
You'll never know how I panic inside,
When I'm lost in my anger and fright.
I am the child that fidgets and squirms
Though I'm told to sit still and be good.
Do you think that I choose to be out of control?
Don't you know that I would if I could?
I am the child with the broken heart
Though I act like I don't really care.
Perhaps there's a reason God made me this way --
Some message he sent me to share.
For I am the child that needs to be loved
And accepted and valued too.
I am the child that is misunderstood.
I am different - but look just like you.

[Kathy Winters is a part-time writer and full-time mother of three. She has a 14-year-old son with Asperger Syndrome and an 11-year-old son with ADHD/Tourettes Syndrome.