Last Friday cbm Canada organized an afternoon event at the Portage Trail Junior School – celebrating the UN Day for Persons with Disabilities. It was a great event. I was amazed and encouraged how this school has integrated students of all abilities.
In thinking about this school and the students, I realized that the word “inclusion” was not the correct word to describe the attitude at Portage Trail School. Inclusion implies that there is an allowance for people not like the “normal” people to be included. This school redefined normal. It was normal for children of all abilities to be part of the school. It was normal for all to be accepted. It was normal for this school to exist. The kids saw it as normal and they acted as if it were normal. It changed normal!
One of the speakers was Olympian Tracy Ferguson. Tracy has participated in multiple Olympics, World Championships, and tournaments. She challenged the students to celebrate all levels of ability.
Tracy ended with two challenges, which I think should be passed on to all of us.
First – each of us should think of a challenge for ourselves in the next year. We need to stretch our comfort zones, do something that each of us thought we could not do. Second – everyone needs help in some form. We should all find ways to help those around us to achieve their challenge.
Again, this is not for someone with a disability – this is for all of us. We need to change what we think is normal!