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Social Inclusion

A significant and continuing challenge in creating and sustaining inclusive schools is building authentic friendships for students with disabilities and their non-disabled peers. Ask almost any parent of a child with disabilities and you will discover a concern for the number and characteristic of their son’s or daughter’s friends, schoolmates, and teammates. Observe in almost any classroom and discover that students with disabilities typically have fewer friends and interact with them in fewer settings – primarily the boundaries of the school. Ask almost any teacher and discover that while social inclusion is of concern, we possess few practical skills and strategies to bridge this relationship gap.

It is well known that unless adults, teachers and parents do something purposeful, meaningful friendships for students with disabilities are more limited in number and depth. Children with disabilities are targets of bullying more often than their typical peers and this problem appears to grow worse as physical and verbal aggression in schools is being quantified and studied. Parents, students, and educators need support and skills to reverse this long-recognized exclusion from friendships and the social life of the school.

The Inclusive Schools Network works to increase attention to this important civil and ethical right to be included fully and meaningfully in the classroom, in the school, and in shared events and sports. With our current attention on academic inclusion through access to the general education curriculum, quality instruction, core curriculum standards we must make certain that we view ‘inclusion’ in it’s broader sense as well. The wish and the right to belong is one that moves all of us on a personal level. Until we establish social inclusion as a characteristic of every school’s culture and practice our work is not done!

Special Olympics Project Unify’s Resources for Promoting Social Inclusion

Unified Sports Handbook: bring inclusion to the playing field as athletes with and without intellectual disabilities train and compete together on the same team. Unified Teams Take Special Olympics Approach to School: example of the impact of Unified Sports from a Colorado High School, published February 12, 2012 in the New York Times It’s Our School Too!: Watch… Read more

Social Inclusion Icebreakers and Connection Activities

These sites offer several icebreakers and connectiona activities that are perfect for getting to know your students. 21st Century Icebreakers: 13 Ways To Get To Know Your Students with Technology Julie Pack's Collection of Icebreakers and Connection Activities… Read more