Feature Article - October 2010
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A Welcome Inclusion

Invisible Disabilities Get Hands-On Attention

By Kelli Anderson

Conventional Wisdom

On Nov. 8, suburban Chicago will host the third annual National Institute on Recreation Inclusion (NIRI), a conference sponsored by the National Parks and Recreation Association designed to provide practical tools and cutting-edge ideas for those wanting to learn about or improve their programs for those with and without disabilities.

"We did a survey about readiness and asked what people would want to get ready," said John McGovern, inclusion expert with the conference and president of Recreation Accessibility Consultants. "Ninety-nine percent answered, 'Give us a practical school.' No theory. We prefer to have people teaching who do inclusion every day."

The convention has grown each year with an anticipated attendance of 300 for 2010. Ultimately, McGovern's prediction is that the demand for inclusion will continue to grow.

"When you get four (inclusion) kids one summer and it's a good experience? Their families tell four more. Trust is huge," McGovern said. "Those four families will tell four more. Then it's 16, then 32. Before you know it, it's 100. We're at the tip of an iceberg."

To find out more about practical inclusion practices for your programs and staff, here are just a few resources to help you get started:

Online training courses: www.nrpa.org

NIRI convention information: www.nrpa.org/NIRI/

CDs and information from Illinois SRAs: www.specialrecreation.org

Recommended reading: Teenagers with ADHD, by Chris A. Dendy; The Motivation Breakthrough, by Rich Lavoie