How you can advance the inclusion movement in your community
Every day, Inclusion Alberta sees community members taking steps to advance the inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities. Whether it’s a sports club changing their policies and training to be more inclusive, a business becoming an inclusive employer, or a school district making a commitment to invest in providing quality inclusive education, change happens when individuals with intellectual disabilities and their families who are tirelessly pursuing inclusive lives are met by allies who see that more is possible and decide to step out try something new.
Inclusion Alberta has influence because so many Albertans join their voices with ours. Your support of Inclusion Alberta is a significant contribution to making change, and there are likely other areas of your life where your leadership can have a powerful effect on furthering the inclusion movement.
YOU are a powerful voice in your community
As a community member, you have the ability to show leadership and create change through the relationships you have, particularly in any groups that you are a part of. For example, many people find themselves part of a cultural community, a post-secondary institution, a political party, or a neighbourhood association.
Each group that you belong to has the potential to become inclusive in its own membership and practices, and to become an ally for the advancement of inclusion elsewhere in the community. To help you envision where you can make change, start by listing any groups you belong to in each of these areas:
- Work life – Teams/organizations that you lead or work in, unions, professional networks or associations, or committees in your workplace. Are they inclusive of people with intellectual disabilities? By sharing personally about the barriers experienced by your family member with an intellectual disability, you could influence your organization to become an inclusive employer.
- Personal life – Recreation/sports groups, hobby/interest clubs, faith groups, service clubs, philanthropic associations, non-profit boards/committees, cultural associations, or neighbourhood associations. As vice president for your child’s swim club for example, you can initiate conversations about what the club can do to ensure that all children, regardless of disabilities, have the opportunity to participate. If you are a member of a faith community, you have significant say in how it welcomes people with intellectual disabilities.
- Public services and government – Boards and advisory committees (e.g., School Advisory Councils, healthcare, school board, municipal government, police, public transit, library, etc.), or political parties and their constituency associations. As a community member and constituent there are many places where you can voice your desire for public service and government to be inclusive. By simply making a request, your book club could be responsible for your library stocking books that raise consciousness of the history people with intellectual disabilities and the inclusion movement. Speaking up at the School Advisory Council at your child’s school could lead to it taking an advocacy position supporting inclusive education. If this happened at more than one school the Alberta School Councils’ Association could adopt an inclusive education advocacy resolution and become an ally.
Share your story with us
As a family-based organization with a dream that children and adults with intellectual disabilities and their families are valued, participating and welcomed members of their communities, understanding the places that members of our movement (like you!) have influence in community will help us to build a strategy to better equip you to be a change agent. Email Philip at firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know about your group memberships and network, where you see possibilities for you to take leadership for inclusion, and about any support you would need. This information will help us to understand if there are sectors of society that our movement is not touching.