NOTEWORTHY: Resolution: Inclusion To Foster Growth, Build Community

News from the Noteworthy

Resolution: Inclusion To Foster
Growth, Build Community

Another year has passed by—and with it, another year of celebrating our milestones. The staff at Springbrook have shown what can be done in a decade as we celebrated the tenth anniversary of the Tom Golisano Center for Autism.

Our donors have also demonstrated what can be done in this time, meeting the needs of the people we support by giving generously time and again, not only on Giving Tuesday or during the holiday season, but every day. Advocating for the needs of others has always been the mission of Springbrook. We have done this by facilitating growth, supporting the whole person, and meeting every one of the persons we support when and where they need us. Over 90 years, we have continued to fulfill our vision of an equitable and inclusive future. Now, as we take time to celebrate the holidays and the upcoming new year, I ask everyone to think about incorporate inclusion into their home and community.

Inclusion means celebrating everyone: It means thinking about the social constructs of our community and the built environment and how it can be improved to include all people. Inclusion means giving every person, regardless of their ability, race, gender, or sexuality, equal access and opportunity to participate in society. Working with persons of all abilities has made me aware of our social ways and how we can overcome stigmas, and of the places where infrastructure can be improved. Persons with disabilities have historically been excluded from public and private spaces, social events, and the workforce by barriers that are socially and physically constructed around them. To foster growth in our community, we must think more inclusively.

At Springbrook, we are constantly looking to the needs of the people who choose our services for ways that we can best support them now and in the future. We are always working to improve accessibility in community homes and on campus. In the broader community, however, we must advocate for infrastructure that supports increased mobility, transportation and comfort. Where infrastructure cannot be changed immediately, we can work to create a more inclusive environment—that is, an environment in which our friends and loved ones are comfortable and in which we are open to communicating new ideas.

One of the best ways to further create an inclusive environment in our community is to engage with those with a disability. We can do this by talking to those around us, reading books by authors with a disability, and including persons we know who have a disability in activities and holiday events. This can be done by providing an ear or a shoulder to someone to cry on or asking for support for ourselves from others. This year, let us ask what we can do for our community—set personal goals and resolutions to be more inclusive. Be an ally to someone with a disability.

Today, we look ahead and move toward many new opportunities to promote independence and choice for people with developmental disabilities. We look forward to the new year and the yet-to-be-seen challenges of tomorrow. With strong staff, generous donors and community support, we can build a more inclusive community. This year, inclusion will be my resolution.

Patricia Kennedy is chief executive officer of Springbrook.

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