The current COVID-19 pandemic has shone a spotlight on the importance of being connected and the ways that social isolation can rupture our sense of well-being. These recent times have made it so clear that we need each other, value being together, and that being alone feels unnatural and, at times, scary. For many individuals and families in our community, this awareness has been heightened in the past several months, but is not at all new.
Over the last while, as we’ve updated our logo, revamped our website, and put more attention into how we communicate with our community, we’ve been thinking a lot about what’s at the core of our work, why we do what we do, and what we want people to feel when they connect with us. When we talk about inclusion, what do we really mean?
In some ways it is easiest to look at what exclusion means. Most of us can think of an experience when we have felt excluded; left out, different, or as if we didn’t belong. Many people in our community feel that way often – daily, even – because of their disability or difference: parents of children with behaviour that has been labeled as disruptive or different, adults with developmental disabilities looking for paid work, the only person of colour in a room, transgendered individuals who can’t find a bathroom, new parents wondering if their baby is developing typically, or seniors who might feel disconnected from their community.
These might sound like small things but the way they impact our ability to live a fulfilling, peaceful life is significant. Not only that, but the rest of us lose out: what are we missing when we fail to create safe spaces for people who might be considered atypical? What are we missing when people don’t have the opportunities to share their gifts with us?
We believe that diversity makes our world richer, and that when everyone is included it improves the quality of life for all people – not just the people previously excluded. Inclusion doesn’t have to be hard: say hi to your neighbour, invite them into your world, be patient, be kind.
At inclusion powell river, our vision is a safe, inclusive community where everyone belongs, and we continue to move toward that vision in our everyday work. Why? Because we want you to know, and feel, that you belong.