Today I want to send out a big Happy Birthday to Gayle Slate. Gayle and her husband Don are the inspiration behind the founding of Kids Included Together, and their contribution has been immeasurable. Gayle built the mission of KIT on her personal experience as a mother of a child with a disability who felt isolated from the community. She and Don worked tirelessly to get attention, resources, and community support for the idea that kids with disabilities should be welcomed and supported alongside their peers. Gayle found amazing people who could help her realize her vision, from Mary Shea to develop the programs, to a cabinet of advisors to make up the founding Board of Directors. Starting something from nothing is incredibly difficult. Starting something that spreads an idea that most people don’t understand is even more challenging. Gayle and Don never backed down in the face of that challenge, and we are here more than 20 years later as a testament to their tenacity.
I was thinking of Gayle this week when I received a notification on Instagram that school teachers in Gulu, Uganda, were using KIT to learn about inclusion. I thought, “I wonder if Gayle had any idea that what she started would make its way to a school in Uganda?”
In other celebrations this week, we are cheering on the official launch of the new National Disability Theatre. I wrote a blog post about it here, and if you see the post on Facebook, we’d love for you to share it. At KIT, we champion inclusion in all domains – childcare, camp, school, and all activities of community life, sports, STEM, outdoor recreation, and the arts. Let’s spread inclusive practices everywhere so all kids, no matter where their interests and talents lie, can realize their full potential, just as Gayle envisioned.