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Imparting importance of inclusion early fosters joy and participation

Brentwood out-of-school services encourages children to be inclusive
Wednesday June 8, 2011 — Ryan Rogers

The Burnaby Association for Community Inclusions’ (BACI) dream is to live in a world where inclusion is so prevalent that being inclusive is second nature. It looks to make its dream a reality by seeking out opportunities to increase social awareness and ultimately effect change in the way individuals with disabilities are viewed in society.

Amanda Walters, supervisor at the Brentwood Park Elementary out-of-school services, says integrating the inclusion movement at a young age is pivotal because if children develop a sense of inclusion early, it will continue to develop throughout their life.

She works with children from Grades 1 to 7 and says they focus carefully on being inclusive in their teachings and programming.

“The children are working on (being inclusive), and we really enforce that at the daycare, and make sure everyone feels included,” says Amanda.

“We make sure all our activities and everything we do is accessible for everybody,” she adds. “We look at every child with or without needs, and make sure that they are able to participate to their full capacity. If not, we ask how we can modify the program or include the kids so they can help everybody.”

Amanda says students are encouraged to be aware of their surroundings, and to invite others to play when the opportunities arise.

She says children are encouraged to notice if they are being watched by someone else.

“We’ll do a look around,” says Amanda, “if they’re sitting there and watching you play, it probably means they want to be asked to play.”

She says these types of actions encourage inclusion by looking to see that everyone’s enjoying their time and participating.

“You have your struggles with children, and making sure they actually see it,” she says.

“But I think we are making progress. There’s always more that you can do, but we’re moving towards (inclusion) and making sure that the children understand and follow that in their daily lives.”

BACI has six integrated child care centres, supporting more than 150 children of all abilities and their families.

If you have a story you would like to share with the BACI Blast, please contact the newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 29, or e-mail ryan(at)axiomnews.ca.

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