Clay Aiken is one of 18 celebrities going head to head on the 2012 season of Celebrity Apprentice. Thank you for watching the series as he competes on behalf of the National Inclusion Project to ensure no child sits on the sidelines.
What is Inclusion?
Inclusion means all participate and all belong.
The National Inclusion Project works every day to make the inclusion of children with disabilities a reality. Since our inception, we have made a real impact by ensuring that children nationwide can experience all that life has to offer.
Our mission: The National Inclusion Project serves to bridge the gap that exists between young people with disabilities and the world around them. We partner with communities and inclusive programs creating awareness about the possibilities that inclusion can bring.
“Why can’t I go, too?” He couldn’t say the words, but the look in his eyes conveyed the message clearly as he watched his sister bound from the car to join the other children heading to day camp—swimming towels in hand, calling out to each other as they anticipated a full day of fun and activities.
From the rearview mirror, Diane saw the expression on Mike’s face, and it pierced a mother’s heart. For Mike— a young man with autism—it was another hurtful reminder.
For parents, these are moments of dread: Recognizing a child’s longing to be included, knowing all too keenly the profound pain of being left out, and wanting desperately to make it better.
For children challenged with physical and developmental disabilities and for those who love them, there is a strong desire to belong, but the obstacles can seem insurmountable.
Yet, love has a powerful way of overcoming obstacles and triumphing over the insurmountable.
What began as a glance back at one child has become a glimpse of the future and a vision for all children with disabilities… a vision of inclusion and a world where all children belong.
By teaching children to welcome others into their worlds, the principles of inclusion can help foster a greater sense of cooperation and empathy in the next generation.
Some limitations to inclusion are practical (such as staff, training, equipment, and curriculum); others are less tangible (such as public awareness and societal shifts in thinking). As the recognized leader in the inclusion movement, the National Inclusion Project seeks to address both the practical and philosophical nature of creating a world where all children can enjoy a sense of belonging . . .no longer on the outside looking in, but always included.
The National Inclusion Project grew out of the relationship between Clay Aiken and Diane Bubel and Diane’s then 13-year-old son, Mike who had been diagnosed with autism. The bond between them grew strong as they shared a vision of a world where children like Mike could be fully immersed in society. They had both witnessed children with disabilities repeatedly turned away from activities opened to typical children.
As Clay pursued a degree in special education from UNC-Charlotte, he completed an independent study project where he created a foundation that focused on providing the support system for recreational and educational programs around the country to open doors to children with disabilities that had thus far remained closed. Both Diane and Clay realized that an organized effort could encourage and facilitate community inclusion and empowerment of individuals with disabilities.
This shared goal grew into reality on July 28, 2003. Since that time, the National Inclusion Project has established itself as a leading voice for inclusion working with a “Who’s who” list of youth organizations – YMCAs, Best Buddies International, Boys & Girls Clubs, CampFire USA, 4H, the ARC – as well as many other local parks and recreation departments, community centers, and privately-run programs. In 2008, both of the Project’s cutting edge inclusion models – Let’s ALL Play and Together We Make A Difference – were closely evaluated with overwhelmingly positive results. Children with and without disabilities in these programs saw growth in motor skills, social skills, and self-esteem, and the impact of the friendships made will last long into the future.
The National Inclusion Project has worked with hundreds of programs, trained numerous staff members and leaders, provided inclusive opportunities for over 20,000 children and is poised to continue to make an impact with children nationwide as well as raise the national consciousness about the need for and benefits of inclusion.
I want to be involved! What do I do?
First of all, thank you!
Click here to donate. Your donation will help send more kids to camp and equip more counselors to make a difference in the lives of children.
Click here to connect. You will receive email newsletters and special announcements to keep you in touch with how we are impacting communities nationwide.
Click here to bring inclusion to your community. Your decision to support us with your time, energy, and creativity will increase the pace at which we will reach more and more communities with the benefits of inclusion.