World Down Syndrome Day which was celebrated yesterday, I want to highlight the importance of inclusion of the special needs community in our schools and in our day-to-day lives. What is inclusion? My favorite explanation comes from the Inclusion Network:
- Inclusion is about ALL of us.
- Inclusion is about living full lives – about learning to live together.
- Inclusion makes the world our classroom for a full life.
- Inclusion treasures diversity and builds community.
- Inclusion is about our “abilities” – our gifts and how to share them.
- Inclusion is NOT just a “disability” issue.
To me, inclusion means including people with special needs into all aspects of your life – as friends, as classmates, as co-workers and as productive members of society. Inclusion is respecting people for their abilities, not their disabilities. For children with special needs, community inclusion provides belonging, acceptance and developmentally appropriate practices. Kids learn typical developing skills from their peers, when and how to use these skills, and they have an opportunity to develop friendships with typically developing children. And, children with special needs and without are provided opportunities to develop positive attitudes toward themselves and others who are different from themselves. Empathy is best learned when young. If there is one thing that I’ve learned from my 30 years of owning and operating Fitness for Health, a state-of-the-art, therapeutic fitness facility helping people of ALL abilities reach their full potential, it is that embracing and honoring people’s differences supports and allows children and teens with special needs to succeed and gives adults the opportunity to see these kids’ potential. In my opinion, we each need to search for a person’s strengths and find the positive in each person and value the contributions he/she makes to the community. I’d love to hear your thoughts. About Fitness for Health: A finalist for About.com’s Readers’ Choice Award for Best Special Needs Resource in the D.C. Region, Fitness for Health, founded by Marc Sickel who also suffers from ADD, specializes in creating personalized, therapeutic programs for children with a broad range of special needs:
- Sensory processing disorders
- Gross motor delays
- Autism spectrum disorders (ASD)
- Pervasive developmental disorders
- Down Syndrome
- Asperger’s syndrome
- Developmental and physical disabilities
- Confidence and self-esteem issues
- Emotional disturbances and anxiety disorders
At Fitness for Health, you get a complete team—including pediatric fitness specialists, physical therapists, and occupational therapists—working together to create a full-service plan of care that’s expertly tailored to your child’s developmental, skill and comfort levels while providing fitness for kids. As a parent, you’re involved every step of the way. Learn more about our therapeutic exercise, occupational therapy services, and physical therapy services today.]]>