Eight years ago, one of our first partners, the Hobart Family YMCA, embraced inclusion by partnering with the Cerebral Palsy of Northwest Indiana, now known as the Center for Possibilities, to facilitate the inclusion of children with disabilities into a summer day camp program with children without disabilities.
“We are so grateful to the National Inclusion Project for the support, the ‘Let’s ALL Play’ training and other resources to facilitate a recreational inclusion program. It has been a life-changing experience for everyone involved! You may ask how you know that. Let me share a parent’s testimony and you will understand one of the reasons why I can make that statement:
At 27, I had my first child. I was so excited to be having a baby girl! When she was born, features indicated something wrong, but the doctors were not sure what. Three days later, we got the call. ‘Hello Mrs. Mock, I am calling to confirm your daughter has Down Syndrome’. Those words were the single most horrifying words to hear. Every dream and hope I had for my child were crushed in an instant! After months of soul searching, I decided to move forward and make my daughter the best she could be.
While she was attending preschool at the Center for Possibilities in 2005, I was notified of an inclusion camp they would be “trying out” over the summer. The Center for Possibilities partnered with the Hobart YMCA and the National Inclusion Project and plans were under way. My husband and I decided we would try out the camp.
After all, we only wanted and strived for our daughter to be a part of the community in which we live. What a decision we made! The camp was amazing and my daughter made several friends, both typical and special. We still keep in contact with the first friend she made at camp, Hailey, a “typical” girl. After seeing the reactions of the mixed group of children, we knew our baby was capable of making it in the world. After camp, I decided to start talking to people about inclusion in the school setting.
I am proud to announce that my daughter, Sydney, is now a second grader at a public school. She currently spends seventy percent of her day in a class room with her peers. She has hundreds of friends and all 750 kids at school know who Sydney is. She recently led her class in a tug of war competition and even got the principal to get up on stage and dance like Hannah Montana! Life for Sydney could not be better.
At one point in my life, I did not know how much strength I had.I certainly didn’t think my baby would be an important part of her community, and she is. What this does for a mother, most will never know. It lightens my heart and gives me back my once crushed hopes and dreams. I owe it all to the Center for Possibilities, Hobart YMCA inclusion camp and the National Inclusion Project. They showed me anything is possible. I am so glad I decided to enroll Sydney seven years ago in the Preschool Camp of All Abilities and that she had the opportunity to continue to attend the Y’s Super Summer Day Camp of All Abilities for school-age children”.
When you walk in the door of the Hobart Family YMCA the first thing you see is a chair that the children helped decorate while they attended Super Summer Day Camp of All Abilities and painted on it is a question, Inclusion: What Are You Waiting For?
Well, the Hobart YMCA didn’t wait which really leaves the question: Inclusion: Why isn’t Everybody Doing This?