World inclusion Day was March 4th and I saw such great support in my community and it gave me hope that everyone will find their place. Schools in our district signed our names on a huge banner to remind ourselves and each other that we will not leave people out, we will not tolerate bullying and we will work together to include others who are not like us.
This is not always easy because not everyone gets along. Actually, some kids do not even want to be in the same space. If this can happen in an environment where kids can be comfortable understanding differences and that it is ok to not get along, this is still inclusion. It is not unkind or leaving out, it is just a normal part of life. It is understanding that differences make us who we are and even when they are uncomfortable we do not have to be mean about it, we can give each other space.
Moorestown School District has been great about always including. Some of the programs that occur are run by parents and families who volunteer. It is the parents understanding and advocacy that is not seen as “the alternative learning”, it is just another way certain kids learn. The level of learning by grade is not as important as the value of learning socially. Kids can grow when they feel that they can be themselves, even if they do not who they even are yet.
So let’s continue to make a difference. It can be trying something new and scary, it can be working with classmates who feel like they don’t fit in and just talking to them makes them feel better; or students who struggle with class work,. It can be a teacher or friend or neighbor who just does not seem to be able to be able to balance everything. It is not always necessary but often we feel that we have to do it all. So on a day when you feel ready, take the time to include people that would otherwise not be on your radar. You will see that we have more similarities than we think.