The Essence Behind Inclusion

When discussing cerebral palsy or other disabilities, you will almost certainly come across the term “inclusion.” However, the word gets thrown around so much the essence behind inclusion can get lost. John W. Quinn, fellow author (Somebody Like Me An Unlikely Story of Challenge and Triumph Over Cerebral Palsy) and familiar name to my long-time followers, explores inclusion’s meaning in a recent video blog.

Quinn hits on a point I feel well worth emphasizing. “I’m not asking for a lowering of standards in order to fit a certain need.”  His statement I believe addresses a misconception which provides a barrier to successful inclusion.

The misconception, inclusion involves lowering standards. I imagine this faulty thinking makes some people hesitant towards embracing inclusion. Ironically proper inclusion thrives off everyone pursuing/meeting the same expectations. Take as an example, The Bellingham Herald‘s news story “Olivier’s Drive, Determination Help Him Cope with Cerebral Palsy On, Off the Mat.”

Reporter Andrew Lang pens the piece sharing how high school freshman Dewald Olivier pinned his competition at a varsity level wrestling tournament last weekend. Olivier stood the ultimate underdog because he lives with cerebral palsy and uses a walker to walk. What makes his pin especially newsworthy; Dewald Olivier met the same standards as his teammates and earned the victory.

Olympic Symbol for Wrestling

The idea for Dewald Olivier to wrestle, an Olympic sport, began as a joke amongst friends.

In fact Dewald Olivier stands an ideal example because he declined lower standards offered to him. Certain routines done during wrestling practice Olivier can’t perform, or at least not in the traditional manner. His coaches suggested to Olivier he could use the time spent on these routines to either stretch or take a break. Lang documents the freshman’s thoughts regarding the latter option.

“I didn’t feel right. I didn’t think I deserved it, because everyone else is pushing themselves. No matter what, they don’t get breaks. So I thought to myself, ‘Why should I?'”

Now I’ll wager a guess and say Olivier’s work ethic led him to pinning an able-bodied opponent. His determination to reach the same standards as his teammates enabled him to get stronger physically. Overall that’s what inclusion presents, the opportunity to grow as a person. Bottom line, the essence behind inclusion entails providing equal opportunity and allowing one’s abilities to judge where one belongs.

Do you agree? Share your thoughts on inclusion by commenting below!


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