What does inclusion look like?

Understanding Inclusion

Inclusion is something we all want. From the time we are little until we are grown, we seek inclusion with our families, friends, society, and communities. We all want to feel like we belong to something bigger than ourselves, and we all want to feel a sense of contribution to that overall connection. Desiring inclusion is a part of our inner being and developing that connection of inclusion in our lives is something we strive to achieve. So, it’s only logical that in helping others feel included, we achieve our goal of self-inclusion. This inclusion in ourselves and others benefits all of us in physical, cognitive, social, and emotional development which benefits our overall surroundings and lives. We are more productive, happier, vibrant, risk-takers, and problem-solvers when we are working together. Being inclusive makes for a better life and future for us all.


Physical Inclusion Benefits

Research to better understand inclusion in physical activities and its potential effects on psychosocial well-being have been extensively observed and studied. Physical activity has long been shown to improve psychosocial well-being among all participants and these benefits are amplified when the activities are performed outdoors. Outdoor recreation has been linked to a variety of developmental and psychosocial benefits, including increased social skills, enhanced self-concept, improved social adjustment, self-confidence, tolerance of others, increased sense of well-being, and increased group involvement. It can also provide opportunities for feelings of empowerment and control in individuals with disabilities while also showing the benefits of cohesion at the family level. Everyone benefits from a physically active lifestyle, but some need adaptations in the environment or equipment to overcome barriers to allow them the opportunity to be included. In order to be a healthy individual, community, society, and world; we all need to become more educated in how we can help make our surroundings inclusive to all. We all need to strive for common ground and be willing to do what it takes to make that happen.


Cognitive Inclusion Benefits

Cognitive development includes decision-making, remembering, and problem-solving. Even babies start to gather, sort, and process information from their surroundings at birth and use this information to develop perceptions and thinking skills. One theory in which children acquire their cultural values, beliefs, and problem-solving strategies is through collaborative dialogues with more knowledgeable members of society. The study concurred the four elementary mental functions developed were attention, sensation, perception, and memory. Structured play can help all of us learn to follow rules, play within boundaries, work as a team, collaborate with others, and come to terms with our perceptions of how things should be. However, unstructured activities have their advantages too. Free play can recharge and reconnect the brain to things it has already learned and allow it to create a new way of using that learned knowledge or behavior. This strengthens our reasoning skills, independent thinking, and behavioral control abilities which helps all of us feel like we are part of the bigger picture and assisting in solutions to the problems at hand. Play of any kind helps us have a sense of our own body and what they are capable of so that we learn to navigate life in a way that is appropriate for us while helping make sure those around us have the environment they need to navigate alongside us.


Social Inclusion Benefits

When we think of being social, we usually think of meeting other people and verbally exchanging information or ideas. However, actual inclusion into society is being invited to participate in an event or activity and agreeing to engage in that event or activity. Being social is a bigger responsibility than just talking to your family and friends. Being social is talking to someone that may not see things the way you do or may come from a different background than you do or may have less knowledge of the presented activity than you do; but being willing to socialize with them anyway while staying open to learning from the experience. This type of social interaction stimulates us on several levels.

  • It gets us out of our comfort zone and forces us to engage with another.
  • It gets us to activate our learned skills of listening and responding to stimuli.
  • It helps us cultivate communication with diverse cultures.
  • It gives us increased self-confidence and self-worth.
  • It promotes a sense of self-achievement.

Being included and participating in social events and activities is a foot in the right direction and if we can be the ones including others along the way, that’s an even bigger bonus!


Emotional Inclusion Benefits

Before engaging with others, it’s always best to “know thyself” first. This is called Emotional Intelligence and it begins with the understanding of your own emotions in various situations – Self-Awareness; then using this awareness to regulate your emotions to produce healthy responses – Self-Management; this awareness also helps you be better at tuning into the emotions of others – Social-Awareness; which helps you respond effectively, reducing conflict and stress – Relationship-Management. All of this emotional arsenal can only help if you’re being honest about your feelings. If the responses you give come from a sense of what you feel the situation or individual needs and you are constantly stifling your true feelings, eventually you can become ill from emotional toxic positivity. Being positive is great and being positive to get yourself out of a non-positive emotion can be a good thing – if it’s for yourself. If you keep your true emotions at bay and stay positive on the outside for those around your, eventually you will either lash out in an emotional way or make yourself sick from within. Everyone has emotions and working through your emotions can be the best form of healing you’ve ever experienced. Burying them makes them worse and more unpredictable since you never know when they will be triggered. Confronting them will help you get to the bottom of why you’re having them in the first place and help you let go and release them once and for all. Emotional inclusion means being able to be there for others without looking through your own baggage first and allowing it to alter your perception of others. See others for who they truly are and allow them to see the real you.


Progressing in Inclusion

Progressing to an inclusive society is the catalyst for making our individual, local, and global lives better. As long as we keep the focus on inclusion for all, we will continue to make strives in that direction. Making sure our aim is to promote, protect, and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons should be the primary goal of society. Building a better future starts with our current focus being placed on building an inclusive, accessible, and sustainable environment for all to utilize and enjoy. As long as our current focus is aligned with these goals the future will take care of itself.

Inclusion is…For Everyone!