Best Practice of Inclusive Services: The Value of Inclusion
Since Congress passed the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990 (Public Law 101-336), recreation providers have made structural modifications to accommodate people with disabilities in various programs. However, it has long been evident that more than structural modifications would be needed in order for individuals with disabilities to be fully included into programs and have the same opportunities for success as individuals without disabilities.
Inclusion is more than allowing people with and without disabilities to participate in the same activity. In order for inclusive services to be successful, inclusion must be a value that is shared by all parties involved, including agencies, staff, families, participants, and the greater community. With appropriate training and education on inclusion and disabilities, managers can ensure that their employees are able to provide services that embrace the value of inclusion.
Using different approaches of system change, Together We Play, an inclusion program and partnership led by the Black Hawk YMCA, and the Inclusion and Accessibility Services of the St. Paul JCC have been able to successfully cultivate an inclusive attitude within their agencies. Their programs have been successful in not only ensuring that people with disabilities can successfully participate in the activities they want, but also in facilitating a welcoming and accommodating environment that is conducive to developing friendship and sharing experiences.