By Inclusion We Mean Community Participation

This week the Blog was written by Allison Hammond, Program Director, The Arcadia Institute By “Inclusion” We Mean “Community Participation.”

Recently, I was asked very specifically by a Georgia Learning Journey guest and Dalanna Hoskins, new Community Broker, about how The Arcadia Institute and our Connect Kalamazoo partners define “inclusion.” That is a very good question and caused me to reflect on some of the blogs we have written on the topic in the past. I went to our training materials to see what we have distributed in the community.

For us at The Arcadia Institute, we prefer to use the phrase “community participation” as a way to look at inclusion. When people with disabilities are fully participating in the community with others who do not have disabilities that is true inclusion.

A person with disabilities is participating and fully included when the person is:

* Making choices about activities that a person enjoys * Taking part in the activities with others who do not have disabilities * Building relationships with other participants, co-workers and neighbors * Gaining skills that can be used in the activity and in other places in the community * Being respected and treated like others in the organization * Making contributions by using their gifts and talents to move the organization forward.

The Connect Kalamazoo Network has created a Commitment to Inclusion Checklist that you can find at this link. Please feel free to use it with any organization that you think would be interesting in being more intentional about having people with disabilities participating in their programs and activities.

For more information about The Arcadia Institute or the Connect Kalamazoo Network please contact Allison Hammond, 269-217-2205 or ahammond@thearcadiainstitute.org.