What is inclusion?
Stephanie Montgomery, M.S.,CTRS and Alayne Kazin, M.A., CTRS
|Photo of children with and without disabilities playing at summer camp.|
Integration is fundamental to the purpose of the ADA. Despite the existence of separate or special programs designed to provide a benefit to persons with disabilities, these programs cannot be used to restrict the participation of persons with disabilities in general activities.
Inclusion refers to a philosophy that goes well beyond non-discrimination and takes a proactive approach to including all people in all programs and services. For parks and recreation departments, an inclusive approach involves actively promoting general programs to people with disabilities and planning ahead for their participation.
The ability to develop and implement programs, meeting the needs of all citizens is the ultimate measure of success. All employees share in the responsibility for including people with disabilities. Each staff member, can promote inclusion by conveying an attitude of acceptance and willingness to accommodate.
Inclusive programs benefit everyone! In addition to the benefits to those with disabilities, inclusive programs help everyone to become more sensitive to individual differences. This awareness and sensitivity to individual differences will hopefully lead to attitudes of acceptance, which carry over to all areas of life.