Why I Care about Inclusion

"Why are you passionate about inclusion and the work of All Belong?" We recently asked inclusion advocate and All Belong Board Member Hugh Groot this question and wanted to share his response with you. 

Over the past 8 years as a member of the All Belong Board of Directors I have become a passionate supporter of the principle of inclusion.  There are two primary reasons for that support that I would like to share.

First, it is our covenant responsibility to ensure that all of God's children have the opportunity to fulfill their God-given potential for service to Him and participate fully in their community.  However, this reason alone is not enough.  While it provides a rationale for ensuring educational and discipleship opportunities for children of all levels of ability, it is my second reason that leads me to support inclusion as the preferred approach.  That is, including students with a wider variety of abilities in a learning environment benefits all students in a real and valuable way, not just those on the fringes.  Let me explain further.

Most schools and churches have been organized to serve the average person as effectively as possible.  The premise is that in order to meet the needs of a larger group of people we need to find and meet the needs that are common among them.  Well, none of us is the same as anyone else so, by definition, this approach ignores not only those on the fringes who have significant differences from the larger group, but also the unique ways in which we are all different from the larger group.

Model of traditional education

So how, then, does inclusion address this problem?  Inclusion drives us to better understand each student and find better ways to meet their unique educational needs.

Model of inclusion

Inclusion is NOT when we decide to do something new only for those with "special" needs, although there are some situations in which that is the only option.
Rather, inclusion is when we decide to change how we serve ALL of our constituents by improving our understanding of them and enhancing the way we serve them.

So, given all of that, why do I support the All Belong?  Simply put, the All Belong is the leader in both thought and deed in equipping schools, churches and families to provide inclusive learning experiences. Their commitment to the principles of inclusion has driven them to research and find solutions that help these organizations successfully implement inclusion.  I know this at a personal level.  Our three children represent a broad spectrum of abilities that would traditionally be referred to as "special needs", "average", and "academically talented" (although I don't favor the use of such labels).  Their educational success has exceeded our expectations in large part because they are learning in inclusive environments -- educators made the effort to understand who our children are as learners so that more meaningful instruction could take place.  I am grateful for the work that the All Belong continues to do on behalf of all students.

How about you:

Why do you advocate for inclusion? We'd love to hear in the comments below!

Hugh and Aaron GrootHugh Groot is the Director of Slot Management at Gordan Food Service and the Treasurer of the All Belong Board  of Directors.  He is a graduate of Calvin College and Pepperdine University.