Building Community is supporting
people in making and sustaining connections with others in their
communities, it is not just a disability issue. It's connecting people
with one another and teaching humanity.
When a community is made up of people who
are interdependent with each other and utilizes it's natural
resources that already exist, then the lives of it's people are less
dependent on the availability of services. This interdependence is of
higher value then independence because people can count on each other.
When they do have a need it can be met from others who know and care
about them and not dependent on paid professionals and dwindling
Excluding people from the community,
requiring them to enter segregated facilities to meet their needs, as
opposed to meeting their needs in the community, reduces the
individual's quality of life, as well as the overall quality of the
community as a whole. Expanding each person's circle of friends,
supports and connections, enhances their quality of life and enhances
their capability to contribute to society using their abilities.
Many of us believe that when some
people are excluded from the social fabric
of our communities, that fabric contains a hole. When the fabric
contains a hole, the
entire fabric is weakened. It lacks the richness, texture and strength
One out of five Americans have a
disability, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Fifty percent of all
people will have some type of disability during their lifetime, and
almost everyone will know or care about someone who has or will have a
disability. Disability is a natural condition of the human
experience. It should not be viewed as a deficiency, but
as having specific needs. Each person's needs make up the community's
needs and each person's contribution adds to the richness of the whole
community. The overall quality of a community is dependent of the
quality of life for each individual who makes up that community.
Creating accessible communities that are
able to meet a variety of needs, not only benefits those who have
disabilities or those who will acquire disabilities, it benefits
everyone in the community. Things like curb cuts, help the delivery
person, the caretaker pushing a baby stroller, the couple moving into a
new home, as well as the person who uses a wheelchair. Removing barriers
both physical, social and others allows people to use their ability and
contribute to society. It gives everyone access to things we value and
it acknowledges that we value everyone in our community.
Inclusion communicates something
more than "integration". It means
people participating in families, schools, (and classrooms), in work
and in community life. "Inclusion" implies that people are welcomed,
each person reaches out to include another person. Inclusion is
from "letting in" or "adding on." Inclusion conveys the idea that we
appreciate each other, that we see each other's gifts, that we value
together. Inclusion speaks to the importance of relationships.
TASH Newsletter (June, 1990)
Written by Colleen F.
Tomko Material Copyrighted 1996
Kids Together, Inc.
This material may be copied for non-profit use only. Please notify us of
of Life Test