Not only a great song by Al Green, but a great motto for families and educators pursuing inclusive schooling. Some of you know I have been working with parents and teachers in my own village to educate the community, provide resources, and build support for one another.
About a year ago, I started a group called OPIN – The Oak Park Inclusion Network (see us on Facebook) and we have sponsored five events:
- an organizational meeting
- a book talk and presentation by Patrick Schwarz (From Disability to Possibility)
- an Inclusive Education Week contest for teachers
- a needs assessment coffee
- a presentation by two great advocate-moms from another part of our state
We have only just started but we have big plans for helping our community provide better experiences for all learners in K-12 schools.
In my travels, I have found that it is really hard to create and maintain social change unless you “get together” and “stay together” around the issue of concern. I know that many parent groups exist in this country for certain disability groups or for special education concerns. These groups obviously play a critical role in supporting families and in teaching about advocacy and in sharing resources. My recommendation for communities who really want to move inclusion forward, however, is to either create a sub-group on inclusion in one of your existing organizations or start a new group in your area just around this issue.
I realize that is hard to commit to yet another meeting but I have often noticed that such a group exists in those places where I see a lot of kids successfully included. Here are just a few groups known for their relentless advocacy, creative strategies, and strong membership:
- The Florida Inclusion Network
- Madison Partners for Inclusive Education
- The Inclusion Group
- Families for Inclusive Education
- Parents for Inclusive Education (their blog is not current but their group is still active)
Do you have a strong inclusion group in your area? Is it time to create one?