Kids Included Together (KIT) is honored to now be a partner with BGCA to ensure equity for youth with disabilities and their families. Equity is often thought about in terms of race or ethnicity, but individuals with disabilities are also an underserved population.
According to the World Health Organization, children with disabilities (of all races and ethnicities) are among the world’s most marginalized and excluded children. KIT works with BGCs and other organizations to meaningfully include kids with disabilities through disability inclusion training, policy development and sharing our best practices information and research.
One of my favorite ways to introduce the concept of inclusion in training is with the graphic below (which shows the difference between inclusion, exclusion, segregation, and integration). Many times, this creates an “ah-ha” moment. I love those! An animated discussion usually follows, with participants recognizing that inclusion means going beyond access to provide the necessary individual accommodations and supports for meaningful participation.
You can ensure that your organization is truly inclusive by reflecting on your policies, practices and procedures to ensure that they welcome and support individual youth and families. Take a minute to compare your organization’s philosophy to the main points of disability inclusion below. Does your organization have:
- A shared way of thinking where every child or youth has value and can contribute in a meaningful way.
- A belief that every child or youth has the inherent right to contribute to his or her community.
- An approach where individualized accommodations promote access to your programs.
- A community where staff and families work together and are supported by resources and training.
- A space where youth with and without disabilities acknowledge and value differences.
As a youth development professional who has seen first-hand the impact of Boys & Girls Clubs on the lives of all youth, I personally thank BGCA for being such a strong voice in the national conversation on disability inclusion for youth programs.