Left Out

"The three hardest tasks in the world are neither physical feats nor intellectual achievements, but moral acts: to return love for hate, to include the excluded, and to say, 'I was wrong.'"

— Sydney J. Harris, American journalist

We all, at some point in our lives, will feel excluded. And because of this, we all know how bad that feels. But for most of us, the feeling of exclusion is not all that common. It just pops up every once in a while, whether it's showing up for school on Monday to find out everyone else was invited to a birthday party, or it's just a general sense that something is happening somewhere and we're missing out.

But for some of us, exclusion isn't a rare thing. For some of us, exclusion is the norm.

In more than a decade of watching the recreation, sports and fitness industry grow and evolve and change, again and again I have found myself fascinated by the way professionals in the industry take on an issue, look at it from an increasing number of angles, and then work to address it, top to bottom. Perhaps there is no challenge where this is so apparent as inclusion.

Within the past 10 years or so, for example, there has been a shift from providing playgrounds that are simply accessible to children using mobility devices toward providing playgrounds that are inclusive from top to bottom—providing a place where children of all abilities can interact together. Similarly, we've seen updates to ADA guidelines that have encouraged aquatic facilities to get more people with physical disabilities into the water.

Like any movement forward, you take one step, celebrate the accomplishment, and then look forward again and take the next step. We find ways to expand our circle of inclusion, and then we find new ways to expand it even further. This is good and important work.

This month, in addition to our regular roundup of features and stories about sports fields, structures, group fitness and more, we take a look at some of the ways facilities are reaching out to people with disabilities that aren't always obvious. For folks with developmental disabilities, finding ways to participate in recreation, sports and fitness can be a challenge, but the industry continues to move ahead, growing the circle of inclusion.

Eventually, maybe no one will feel excluded.


Emily Tipping
Editorial Director,
Recreation Management