By Kristin Oropeza
Inclusion and inclusivity hold such a special place in my heart. As a former (and forever) special education teacher, my mission was – and still very much is – to provide the students in my classroom with as many of the same opportunities as their typically developing peers. This meant opportunities both inside the classroom and on the playground.
In Edutopia’s video, “Why Inclusion Matters on the Playground,” Jennifer Quick, an Education Program Manager at Inclusion Matters by Shane’s Inspiration, discusses the application and importance of inclusive playgrounds where ALL students can play. “Play is the way we learn to connect with the world,” Quick states early on in the video. The Inclusion Matters program builds accessible playgrounds and provides teachers workshops and training that “help them understand the importance of social inclusion.”
Through this program, both teachers and students have the opportunity to learn about inclusion practices through a series of discussions, debriefs and hands-on play with students with disabilities. The video showcases students from one general education fourth grade classroom at McKinley Elementary School from the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, as they learned about inclusion and had the opportunity to play at an Inclusion Matters playground with other non-typically developing students.
Quick encourages viewers, “Talk with your principal – come up with something small that you can start with. Maybe it’s a conversation at your staff meeting. If you’re a general education teacher, find a special education teacher that would want to partner with you. Start the conversation.”