The world has come a long way in acknowledging that not everyone has the same physical and mental abilities or needs and that public services should be accessible to all. One day, there may be a generation of adults who grew up never seeing the world where people were excluded. But that can only happen if we teach our kids inclusivity, and more importantly, provide them with the tools to be included and include others in all aspects of life. Below are some ways we can make a more accessible world for all of our children.
Playgrounds in parks and schools provide important spaces for kids to play and learn, but they also bring hazards. Today’s playgrounds look much different than those of the past, providing softer landings, safer equipment, and more variety in equipment offered. This includes having more height options for swings, more safety bars, and in some cases, even ground coverings accessible by wheelchairs. They also create distinct areas for kids of different ages and abilities, so that kids can play in an area designed with their safety in mind.
With so many improvements being made, it’s easy to find examples of accessible and safe playgrounds. Look at your local parks and schools and see if the playgrounds are accessible. If not, find the board in charge of the area and give them concrete suggestions for improvements, such as replacing ladders and steps with gentle inclines, and providing equipment for children with a variety of mobility needs.
Kids in schools where neuro-diverse students are separated from the rest of the students are likely to think differences define people more than they do. Schools that provide students with the resources they need, while not separating them completely are showing children that in this diverse world, we can all exist together.
Special education teachers must often deal with small budgets and lack of resources. They often need to create individualized lesson plans that cannot be applied on the same scale as lesson plans for neuro-typical students. They also need to be aware of common core standards and how they apply to their students. These challenges are common among all teachers, and teachers of all students should work together to find commonalities in their struggles and find solutions that work across the board.
When children grow up seeing inclusivity, they accept people for who they are. This is how we build a better, more inclusive world for our children.
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