My topic for this month is inclusion. “Inclusion” is an ordinary life of being involved in activities and relationships with other valued citizens in ordinary physical and social settings. Given this definition, we need to consider what the vision is of an ordinary life for a person who has chosen to live in a senior’s residential community. Given their past expectations and life experiences will they be able to develop a vision outside the life they had before they arrived.
“Community” is built on two central foundations: Relationships and Contribution. The inclusion of people with different abilities can bring out attributes in others such as taking time, slowing down, listening, consideration of the needs of another and empathy. These are essential attributes for our society. This also means that people with different abilities can be major contributors to the strength of our society through their inclusion.
There are several academic definitions which all include terms such as social inclusion, community inclusion, social connectedness, social integration and social citizenship. All these are terms that relate to the importance of the links between the individual members of our society and the role of each person as a member of this group.
So, do people with different abilities need to change to fit the “norm”? I think not, we need to embrace their strengths and above all else be respectful.