…Kimberly Brown, Associate Executive Director of Kids’ Country, located in Danville, CA! We are so thrilled to share Kimberly’s interview with all of you. Enjoy!
When were you first introduced to inclusion? Why did you choose to become a champion for inclusion? *
I was introduced to inclusion when I was a little girl through my cousin who has cerebral palsy. As children, we created games that he could actively participate in, despite being paralyzed from the neck down. He would get a huge smile on his face, and his eyes would light up when he was included. He was empowered through our play. This powerful feeling he expressed will always be etched in my heart. I am champion of inclusion because I believe all children need to experience this joy.
What do you love about inclusion?
I love the philosophy of inclusion because each child is valued for who they are and are recognized for their own special gifts. The focus is not on their physical or mental limitations, but on making accommodations to best support each individual’s needs.
What is your vision for an inclusive world?
My vision for an inclusive world is for all people to be embraced for who they are, instead of being judged for what they are not.
Did you overcome a barrier or roadblock regarding exclusion/inclusion?
The biggest road block has been educating some teachers that when you make an accommodation for certain children, you are not spoiling them or giving them preferential treatment, but rather fulfilling their needs.
What is one of your most memorable inclusion experiences?
One of my most memorable inclusive experiences was when I got a call from a Site Director who wanted to terminate a child who was throwing tantrums, hurting other children, and was defiant to the staff. Instead of making this decision, we took a different approach. Through careful observations and open minds, we began to unravel the mystery of why the child was behaving this way. Staff began to focus on the antecedent and develop strategies to support the child. Two years later, the child is thriving in our program.
What is your top tip that you would give to someone working with children?
Make it your quest as an educator to take the time to figure out each child and discover what they need. It is important for staff and parents to collaborate and problem solve together. Look at the complete picture to support the child to figure out what they need: the environment,the routine, and the adult/child interactions.
–Written by Kimberly Brown, Associate Executive Director of Kids’ Country. Edited by KIT Staff.
Kids Included Together (KIT) is a non-profit located in San Diego, CA and Washington, DC. We help make the world a more inclusive place by providing live and online training to people who work with kids. We teach strategies, accommodations and best practices to include kids with and without disabilities in before & after school programs. Inclusive environments create stronger communities. Learn more about our work at www.KITonline.org.