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Boulder County and Meaningful Inclusion 👩🏾‍🤝‍👨🏻

by Katie Buckley

Meaningful inclusion for people with developmental/intellectual disabilities has come a long way in the past few years but there is always more progress to be made inside and out of the community. This is true for families who have a child with a disability and families who do not. In fact, there’s beneficial research that both children with and without disabilities benefit from school programs like peer helpers and best buddies, that both educate and create a positive environment for both populations. Learning about inclusion and advocacy doesn’t only have to happen in a school environment. There are so many resources, places, books, and technologies that can help all of us learn about meaningful inclusion. Let’s learn together! The time has come in this issue to explore inclusion as it relates for places and re- sources that offer something to every family and help to build a more inclusive community!

Explore Boulder County - WOW Children's Museum:

This interactive and engaging museum located in Lafayette offers learning and play experiences for ALL children. WOW offers special sensory hours for children on the autism spectrum and with sensory processing disorders. They bring in adaptive equipment, volunteer therapists and make it a family affair! Check out their sensory friendly exhibit The Forest room! For more information, check out this link.

Sensory Playground:

Located in Westminster, this accessible play space was built with family in mind. It is located near the hospital so many patients and their families use it as a reprieve before or after sessions. This award winning park has accessible seating in their swings, wheelchair friendly paths that are both fun and functional, a water and sand play area and so much more you’ll have to see for yourself! It is the epitome of inclusion where all the amenities bene- fit every child in their exploration and play. Map it from where you are here: DIRECTIONS

Children of every age and ability deserve safe spaces where they can just be kids. The sensory park and WOW museum do just that while building in supports that children with disabilities may need. These are just two of the many places that remove barriers so all kids can learn and grow alongside their peers of the same age.

Learn more about Inclusion: The Center for People with Disabilities located in Boulder proper is a great resource to learn more or to provide families with more resources in the Boulder area. They offer opportunities for both volunteering and advocacy. Their mission is as follows: “The Center for People with Disabilities works so that people with disabilities in the Boulder area may live independently. We believe that there is nothing more disabling than pity.

“People with disabilities are a powerful and significant part of our community, yet, overall, our social roles have been marginalized by bigotry, discrimination, poverty, isolation, dependency and pity. Americans with disabilities have not had the same access to transportation, housing, employment and other public resources as most citizens. Our longterm vision is one of integration and equality.” Learn more and get involved at this link.

Although not located in Boulder County, the Early Choices website provides different modules for families to complete to learn more about inclusive practices inside and outside the classroom. Their mission is as follows, “The Understanding Inclusion series contains 6 topics that explore key ideas about inclusion in early childhood. The series covers a range of topics from defining inclusion to understanding the benefits to advocating for inclusion. Developed for families with family input... We hope this series supports you on your journey of inclusion and provides you with resources that you can share and build upon.” The modules are free to complete and have no time restrictions so you can learn and explore at your leisure. Check out this link!

Luckily, in the past few years this initiative has made great headway. These are just a few of the resources out there for families with and without children with disabilities. There are always opportunities to learn! Join us next time for more books and technologies!

Katie Buckley is a high school special education teacher who teaches in a program for students with cognitive dis- abilities. She was born and raised in Denver, Colorado, before going to Texas to get her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Special Education at Texas Christian University.

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