"You are the average of the five people you spend most time with." - Jim Rohn
As our family gets ready for another school year, I've reflected on a series of photoshoots I did back in March this year, where I had the opportunity to meet and photograph six amazing and talented kids with Down syndrome. I posted a few of those pictures on Facebook to raise awareness about the importance of meaningful inclusion at school.
Inclusion is a subject near and dear to our hearts because our younger daughter also has Down syndrome, and we have been struggling with the school district for years so some day, our daughter will be able to spend most of her school time inside the general education classroom, as opposed to being segregated to a special education room, or as they also call it, the "special skills classroom" where she now spends most of her school day.
As Mr. Jim Rohn so brilliantly put it: "You are the average of the five people you spend most time with." Children learn by observation and imitation, so we believe it is important for our kids with disabilities to spend most (if not all) of their time surrounded by "typical" kids. It is a win-win-situation for everyone because by learning next to their typical peers the standards of kids with disabilities are raised considerably, and at the same time the typical kids get to learn important human traits such as integration, patience, compassion and understanding.
We believe the best way to raise children with disabilities to become fully productive and happy members of society is by including them 100 percent since day one.
It is often we (schools, parents, teachers, and organizations) who put glass ceilings on our children's potential by deciding or telling them what they can or can't do from an early age.
Segregated classrooms are one of the last dividers in this country. We believe division and exclusion in our society start at school. In reality there are more things in common between all of us than there are differences. So the choice is ours, the question is: What are we going to do about it?