This was my wife’s first lesson for me and I’ll never forget it.
It was when Garrett was entering Kindergarten in a public school.
She said to me during our conversation about school:
“We all learn from our environment”
You can say it, because I did -
“No Sh@t Sherman”.
Ok, so it’s pretty common knowledge that humans learn from our environment. That environment, where and how we grow affect us greatly. But she got me - because her reply to my No Sh@t was:
“So, as always, inclusion is our standard and anything less is unacceptable”.
Inclusion has been our #1 rule since Garrett was in pre-school and would always continue to be to this day.
Most parents have heard this speech on inclusion in our schools.
But here’s the twist!!
Why don’t we look and push for opportunities for inclusion outside school?
My wife and I agreed inclusion is the #1 rule - to me that also meant in everything; including sport, little league and other typical activities that kids participate in.
Among the many values of kids playing youth sports is the opportunity to learn things like teamwork, communication and proper social skills. The years playing in the local basketball league gave Garrett the opportunity to learn and grow that only playing in organized youth activities can.
I’m sorry to say that, sometimes, we as parents of a child with special needs tend to protect our kids by having them only participate in activities designed for their “label”. It’s great to have those activities. They provide their own opportunity for growth. But participating in only those activities limits your child’s potential. It’s important to branch out early - because as your child becomes an adult there are fewer opportunities for those “special “activities.
Break some barriers.
Sign your kid up for the neighborhood little league or soccer or gymnastics, dance, Scouts or whatever it may be - but let them reap the rewards of participating in the typical youth activities, alongside their typical peers.
Believe me, there will be tough times and heartbreaks trying to accomplish this. I remember Garrett trying out for the High School basketball team. He thought he was a lock to make it. Wasn’t easy when he didn’t make it past the first cut. It broke mom and dad’s heart to see his heartbroken. But then again, my heart broke when my other two sons stopped playing organized sports as well. You have to go through the good and bad experiences in order to grow as a person.
We bring the rule of inclusion with us to our foundation. That’s why we have our Adaptive CrossFit at a regular CrossFit box during normal class hours. It’s the Inclusion and the opportunity to learn and grow in a positive environment along with the fitness that makes it such a special program.