A major part of being there for your community is ensuring you’re inclusive with your program offerings. Your community is made up of a beautiful patchwork of people from a myriad of backgrounds. By including everyone in your community, especially members with special needs, your organization shows it’s there for everyone regardless of their abilities.
The benefits of including children with disabilities in your programs, or even adding programs just for them, are numerous. You’re not just helping children with special needs but their parents and even children who don’t have disabilities.
Support Often Overlooked Members of Your Community
When school is in session, many students in your community who have special needs are taken care of. That’s thanks to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which provides free public education to students with disabilities. Schools are required to find and evaluate students suspected of having disabilities at no cost to families, and then provide them with special education and other related services to meet their unique needs. However, the law does not require organizations outside of school districts to provide services like this. That’s where you come in!
As of the 2018-19 school year, there were more than 7.5 million eligible infants, toddlers and children with disabilities. Have you considered the accessibility of your program to those with special needs? All children within your community would enjoy the same exciting programs as others, but sometimes they need something focused on their needs to participate. Adding any sort of program or adjustments that increase inclusivity will be incredibly valuable to parents.
Helps With Fitting in
Kids without disabilities already have a hard enough time fitting in among their peers, especially as they grow into teenagers. Imagine how much harder it could be for a child with a disability. They experience the same feelings of doubt, anxiety, humiliation and loneliness as a result of being excluded from a group, which isn’t something any parent would want for their children. By offering programs that are inclusive—or even tailored to the needs of children with disabilities—your organization would benefit those children immensely and aid in their ability to fit in and feel a sense of belonging.
Kids need to feel acceptance before they can be their true selves. By including children with special needs in your programs, you’re facilitating a safe environment where they can feel accepted. This in turn helps them develop a positive self-image and builds confidence.
By including children with special needs in your programs you are also helping them learn age-appropriate social skills as a result of being around kids without disabilities. These kids learn to be more independent and acquire developmentally advanced skills.
Embraces Diversity and Inclusion
Including children with disabilities in your programs will enrich the lives of not only those children but children who don’t as well. Diversity is a key element in helping children learn to understand that not everyone is the same and to respect others, even if they are different. Children are able to learn compassion, awareness and respect by being around other kids from many different walks of life.
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