For too long in our field we have talked about people with disabilities becoming true ‘community members’ or full participants in community, we make it sound like a full-fledged battle will be required. The secret that by now should be out is that people who do not work in the ‘disability field’ got it awhile ago. They are asking us, why should she not be in the same physical fitness class as mine? Why would we need to set up a ‘special arts’ class at the community arts institute?
As advocates for full community participation, let us not repeat bad history. Let’s not reinforce the message that only those of us with special expertise can work with people with disabilities.
As we point out in the manual we are developing for the Community Participation Initiative, those of us who know ‘about disability’ do not necessarily know art or camping. Let’s use the insights and knowledge we have to coach art teachers, fitness instructors and youth program leaders so that they can include children and adults with disabilities in what they do all the time.
George Martin President