Every month the KIT staff nominates and votes for one person who we feel stands out as an inclusion Advo-KIT. These nominees have not just hopped on board the inclusion train; they are shoveling the coal and blowing the whistle! This month we are recognizing Chantal Lane, from The New Children’s Museum in San Diego!
Chantal was nominated by KIT Affiliate Coordinator, Viviana H. Saint-Louis, who says that “Chantal cares and wants to provide a quality experience for all of the children that attend the museum activities. She has supported her counselors and part time staff to be flexible and open for full inclusion in their programs. This summer, the museum was able to include a child with muscular dystrophy, and Chantal reports that it is going great! They are pioneering the ways to accommodate children of all differences & abilities into their camp programs.”
When were you first introduced to inclusion? Why did you choose to become a champion for inclusion?
“I suppose my first introduction to inclusion was through a KIT presentation about 10 years ago, when I worked for a different Museum. I don’t think that I saw inclusion as a “thing” before that….Call me an idealist, but I just assumed the world was more accommodating than it really is. As I have moved forward in my career and have managed programs that welcome more and more kids, it has become a priority to make inclusion visible. Most often, people just need to be made aware of it to get on board!”
What do you love about inclusion?
“What I love about inclusion is seeing kids playing side-by-side with kids of all backgrounds and all abilities. I truly believe that kids don’t make assumptions about the ability of other kids – or about their own abilities – until someone tells them to do so. The beauty of inclusion is that no one draws those boundaries for them.”
What is your vision for an inclusive world?
“Inclusion is a no-brainer. Open your programs, offer what you can, and communicate. Again, maybe I’m an idealist, but shouldn’t it always be that way?”
Did you overcome a barrier or roadblock regarding exclusion/inclusion?
“The hardest part is getting past the fear of reaching out. I think there is an initial fear that opening your program to all children will be complicated or may bring a long list of liabilities. Navigating through it all with a great partner like KIT has made it a breeze. We are still working on full inclusion, but we (NCM) feel confident in this rewarding process.”
What is one of your most memorable inclusion experiences?
“This summer, The Museum’s camps program welcomed a spirited 6-year-old girl with muscular dystrophy. This little girl was up for anything! She joined us for art-making, break dancing, kite-flying, and countless other active and creative endeavors. Our staff helped her navigate through some challenges, but she was right there alongside her camp-mates through everything. It was a blast!”
What is your top tip that you would give to someone working with children?
“If you don’t make an issue of it, neither will they! Kids have an amazing ability to be open and accepting.”
–Written and 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.