Inclusion builds stronger communities
Our government and CLBC understand that inclusion is a vital part of a strong community, and it takes the collaborative work of individuals, families, organizations, businesses, governments and local leaders to make it a reality. I would like to take this opportunity to highlight the importance of inclusion and some great examples that illustrate the work being done.
CLBC believes adults with developmental disabilities and their families have the right to pursue “good lives in welcoming communities”. Part of a good life is feeling safe where you live, go to school, work and play. CLBC is committed to providing education, support and leadership to encourage networks and partnerships that help adults with developmental disabilities feel safe and secure wherever they live. This organization and its hard-working staff have done outstanding work to promote inclusiveness. For example, Start with Hi, a CLBC public awareness initiative, supports this commitment by encouraging all British Columbians to say “Hi” to a person they see regularly who has a developmental disability.
Inclusiveness is about bringing people together and allowing all members of society, regardless of ability or challenges, culture or age, to have opportunities to be a part of their communities. Whether through work, play or volunteerism, ultimately it’s about equality – financial, services, support, and attitudes. We all want the same opportunities to have jobs, connect with others and lead happy and fulfilling lives. Inclusion goes both ways. As the process takes shape and becomes more successful, those with developmental disabilities include others in their lives.
The Surrey Now has shown their commitment to inclusiveness with their PossAbilities publication. This bi-monthly addition to their regular paper is a great step forward, providing news, stories and profiles of people changing their lives and educating others on what inclusion means. I applaud Surrey Now for their leadership in dispelling the issues surrounding misinforming and misunderstanding. Inclusion is better achieved through education.
The challenges of developmental disabilities, and disabilities or challenges of any sort, are diminished through inclusion. The Surrey Public Library understands this and part of their inclusion efforts are to make plain language books available at their branches. Reading improves your quality of life and everyone should have the chance to experience the joys of literacy. Ensuring there are books available for a range of reading abilities enables more people to enjoy books. This is a good example of inclusion.
Over the years, I’ve had the good fortune to know a number of individuals who have taught me about inclusiveness, and about seeing people’s abilities. One of the most important of these folks is self-advocate and community leader Barb Goode. Barb and I were on a committee together that advised on inclusion issues for 2010 Legacies Now. From Barb, I learned a lot about the need for plain language and the desire and ability of all citizens to contribute in a meaningful way.
It is about being fair, being equal, and letting everyone have the same opportunities to enrich their lives and the communities they live in. British Columbia, including my riding of Surrey-Panorama, is one of the best places to live and our commitment to inclusiveness is a big part of that.