Inclusion is the Guiding Light

I have a couple of good things to share, but first I need to rewind a bit. Back in May/June, Alissa Marotto, our Research & Evaluation Director, was working on a white paper for child & youth program administrators. She was writing about the post-quarantine return to the classroom.

We’d been talking to our clients, hosting webinars and learning communities discussing this issue, and we knew everyone was afraid. How would we safely connect with children in a socially-distant, mask-faced world?

Alissa’s position was that inclusive practices were the roadmap. She encouraged providers to trust that the inclusive practices they had been working so hard to learn and implement prior to the pandemic would be the path back to the program. She asked them to trust themselves and the relationships they had developed with kids and families. The excerpt below is from Alissa’s unpublished paper.

“Inclusion is the guiding light we all need to move forward. As we face a pandemic, and we feel our fears rise, we can be vulnerable, proactive, relational, and collaborative. These were best practices before COVID-19 and they can help us move forward without leaving anyone behind.” 

I was reminded of Alissa’s thinking this week when I read this article about fostering diversity & inclusion in workplaces when everyone is remote. The New York Times article features a company called Ultranauts, a tech start-up that has been all-remote since it was founded in 2013. 75% of the Ultranauts employees are on the autism spectrum. They have developed a ton of inclusive practices to support their team that would apply to any remote workplace (I took a few notes!). So, as Alissa beautifully articulated, inclusive practices can help us adapt to a new reality and create more equitable, supportive spaces.

Here’s another bright spot.

20 Artists In Inaugural Class Of Disability Futures Fellows Receive $50,000 Grants

This class of Disability Future Fellows was funded by the Ford Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. You can view all of the artist profiles here. It’s exciting to see such a diverse selection of artists, and the recognition of the intersections of disability, race, sex, and gender expression. Artists play an important role in both reflecting the world to us and helping us envision a new future. We need to amplify the voices of diverse artists.

Until next time, let’s let inclusion continue to lead the way in these unprecedented times to a brighter, more inclusive future.