Ideally, inclusion pushes us to treat every single person in our community with compassion and interest.
December 5-9 was the National Inclusive School Week, and Edgemont’s PTSA CHILD (Children Having Individual Learning Disabilities) committee is working with the Art department to create unity posters and banners as a school project to strengthen bonds within Edgemont. It gives each community member, student and faculty member alike, the opportunity to achieve a sense of belonging.
So, what does true inclusion mean to EHS students? One anonymous student said that to them, inclusion means to “go the extra mile when you see somebody, whether it’s just saying hi or taking a minute to talk to them because little things like that make a big difference towards somebody’s day, and you never know the extent to what people are going through.”
To me, inclusion means to think about other people in addition to yourself and take into consideration the fact that it may be more difficult for some to make social connections.
When conversing with people with disabilities, it is important to keep in mind that they deserve the same respect as everyone else. Simple conversation starters such as this: “Hi, my name is … What is your name?” or “I like the color… What is your favorite color?” are some easy opening lines. It not only is beneficial for students who have trouble communicating freely with others to have a conversation with a new friend, but it can also educate you about individuals outside your usual social circles.
When referring to individuals with disabilities, we should use appropriate and kind language. According to GIVE’s (Growing Inclusivity for Vibrant Engagement) Inclusive Language Guide, one should “avoid language that assumes an individual with a disability is having a negative experience (i.e. victim, challenged, problem, suffers, etc.). Avoid language that sensationalizes an individual with a disability (i.e. superhuman, courageous, brave, inspirational, etc.).” Rather, one should try to connect in as natural a style as possible.
Another point made by GIVE was that “using person-first language is a good place to begin when referring to individuals or groups of individuals with disabilities. Instead of “disabled student,” say “student with a disability.” This puts the focus on the individual over their diagnosis.”
Edgemont’s chapter of Best Buddies, a club where one-to-one friendships are built between students with and without disabilities, has been focusing on how to unify students at Edgemont who do not necessarily see each other around the halls or in mainstream classes.
Working with Edgemont’s ICAP class, Best Buddies creates group bond-building activities such as their most recent activity, a paper chain contest. Working and spending time with students with disabilities takes patience, dedication, and grit. However, a simple interest in reaching out to students who would surely appreciate the contact suffices.
here will be upcoming events and fundraisers that anyone and everyone can attend and participate in to raise awareness for individuals with disabilities.