We've made inclusion our mission for 15+ years. And if there is one thing we never get tired of, it's hearing the stories of the children, parents, and families who experience the life-changing power of inclusion. These success stories are our life blood; they are the reason we get out of bed every morning; the reason we will keep fighting this fight for the next 15 years (with your help of course!).
Dear National Inclusion Project,
My daughter Kayleigh* has participated in the Minneapolis Parks & Rec summer inclusion program for the last two years, and the positive impact it has had not only my daughter, but on myself and my family as a whole, has been truly incredible. (I suspect the program’s positive impact extends to ALL the children participating in the summer camp, but for now I can only speak from our personal experience.)
To understand just how monumental the inclusion summer program has been, one must understand the challenges Kayleigh faces each and every day.
While she is very mobile and active, she is not as coordinated as typically developing children her age. Her communication skills are extremely limited. And she is cognitively and behaviorally challenged to a severe degree. She requires constant adult supervision for her personal well-being and to some degree for the well-being of those around her.
Despite her communication challenges, there is no questioning Kayleigh’s happiness to be included with her peers at summer camp. The look in her eyes, the smile on her face, the joyful noises she makes and her deep, peaceful sleep at the end of the day speaks VOLUMES.
Names and images have been changed to protect individuals' privacy
I cannot stress enough how grateful we are for the opportunities the summer inclusion program has afforded my daughter. Seeing Kayleigh socialize with her peers and participate in a variety of activities we thought were out of her reach has filled our hearts so very much. Knowing that the all-too-fleeting golden years of childhood are not passing Kayleigh by and that she too has had the chance to experience joy and make amazing memories is….well, I simply do not have the words to express what it means to us as her parents.
From a purely personal perspective, another positive aspect that this program delivers is it’s secondhand effect of giving a parent (or parents) a small portion of respite during the day; time for rest or self-care, to care for a sibling, do household shopping, etc. For our family, this was an exceptional bonus which helped to alleviate a great deal of stress.
Without incredible programs such as the Minneapolis Parks & Rec inclusion program and organizations such as National Inclusion Project helping them make it happen, our lives would certainly be diminished.
Thank you so very much for making this summer camp inclusion program a reality. We trust that this program will continue and expand so that more families can be touched as our has been.
David, Kayleigh’s dad