Inclusivity and Movement
What does it mean to practice inclusivity? Is it the conscientious act of including others in a conversation or activity? Is it the inclusion of diverse populations of people who might otherwise be marginalized or discounted in our society? Or, does inclusion mean that everyone belongs and has a right to be an active member of their community? The answer is yes, all of the above.
Today it is more important than ever to create a world where people who do not fit the “norm” can feel connected and have a sense of belonging through inclusive practices.
Imagine how a child feels when they are not picked for a game on the school playground or not asked to attend a party with their so-called “friends.” Now think about the impact on a child with disabilities. Being excluded from activities can lead to social isolation and decreased self-esteem. Inclusion in everyday activities helps to create an atmosphere of acceptance and belonging. For children who do not fit the “norm” of society, there is a great need to provide opportunities to participate.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including children with disabilities in everyday activities and encouraging them to become active participants in their daily activities is known as “disability inclusion.” True disability inclusion requires that all people, regardless of ability, be treated in the same manner as people who do not have disabilities. For disability inclusion to occur, children who have different needs and abilities need to receive the proper support, which often comes in the form of assistance from others or adaptations to promote greater independence.
Examples of the proper support include:
- Home equipment and programs that promote active participation in daily activities.
- Educational programs that promote physical activity and a healthy lifestyle.
- Community recreational programs that provide opportunities for movement and socialization.
Getting people with disabilities included in home, school, and community activities begins with identifying and eliminating barriers to their ability to participate. Identifying these barriers involves recognizing differences and finding reasonable alternatives through equipment design and function. Equipment that is available to children who do not have disabilities is often not designed to be fully accessible by those with disabilities and does not allow for inclusive participation. Barriers to participation can easily be removed by providing and developing equipment that is designed for children who have varying needs and abilities.
The team at SensoryRx is working to provide commercial and residential equipment that promotes disability inclusion to achieve full inclusion. By selecting and designing equipment to meet the needs of all children, the SensoryRx team's goal is to open doors and eliminate barriers.
Kevin Anderson has been an occupational therapist for 36 years, with experience in adult rehabilitation, school-based practice, and home-based therapy. He is currently a faculty member of the occupational therapy department at the University of Mary and program coordinator of the Fargo campus and is certified as an assistive technology professional. He maintains a private practice, where he works with individuals who have multiple disabilities. He holds a PhD in Education, where he studied the impact of activity at TNT Kids Fitness on individuals who have multiple disabilities. His research agenda has involved the study of physical activity, employment, assistive technology, and sensory interventions. He has provided consultation to schools, homes, and facilities in the community that serve individuals with disabilities for many years, with a special interest in creating sensory environments.