This Thanksgiving, I’ve spent time reflecting on the experiences that have made me who I am today and shaped the values I have. I have been thinking about the path that brought me to the career and the friends I have, as well as the way that I treat and lead others. I am thankful that I was exposed to very diverse groups of people beginning early on, learning to respect differences and support all people’s needs.
Time after time, I keep coming back to the inclusive experiences I have had– the Unified Theater and Unified Sports programs I performed and competed in, the camps I attended and worked at, and the church programs I engaged in. Participating in these various programs and being a part of these communities gave me a chance to meet many different people and build an understanding of where they come from. I learned to participate in a way that encourages others to participate. I learned to think creatively about how to give all people a voice. I learned to listen before I speak. For that, I am deeply grateful.
Exposure to differences from an early age made me a more tolerant, empathetic person. In a day in age when we are overwhelmed by topics and discussions that divide us more than over, we all need to learn to practice empathy. The moral shouting that I have been reading across my Facebook page throughout the last few months has reminded me of the importance of taking the time to listen to others in an attempt to understand them. We need to focus on seeing multiple perspectives, understanding others instead of rejecting and ignoring them. I am beyond grateful to have had the chance to meet people from various walks of life to build my sense of commitment to our community at large. Our world needs inclusion– our children need to be taught to understand others’ perspectives. They will be the best possible leaders when they can give all people a voice, helping them feel heard and understood.
This Thanksgiving, I am grateful for the way that inclusion has shaped the way I listen to and respect others who are different from me. How has inclusion shaped your world view? Why are you thankful for inclusion?
— Written by Elise Hopkins, 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.