Me2 Club is an inclusion charity which helps children and young people with additional needs get involved in mainstream activities. While the importance of inclusivity is becoming more a part of public consciousness, it’s still a concept that deserves further focus and attention, so that’s what we’re going to shine a spotlight on today.
What does inclusion really mean?
It’s a word you probably hear all the time, but what is inclusion? While the traditional definition describes inclusion as “the state of being included or being made a part of something”, genuine and effective inclusion is more complex and has more far-reaching benefits than this simple characterisation.
Full inclusion in society is one of the key principles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which formulates ‘accessibility’ as the inclusive practice of proactively removing barriers to ensure equal access for those with disabilities.
So, inclusion doesn’t stop at simply ‘giving access’; in practice it’s also about enabling. But even this doesn’t quite encapsulate true inclusion, which also takes into consideration individual situations and needs.
Equality, reasonable adaptation and inclusion: why understanding the difference is important
When thinking about inclusion, we need to consider three concepts:
- Equality describes a situation where each individual or group of people is given the same resources or opportunities.
- Reasonable adaptation recognises that each person has different circumstances and therefore allocates the exact resources and opportunities needed to reach an equal outcome.
- Inclusion goes a step further, seeking to address the systemic barriers that prevent people accessing what they need in the first place.
Why does inclusion matter?
An included life means enjoying the same opportunities that others enjoy, living the life you want to and not being defined by your needs. At a societal level, inclusivity helps individuals from all demographics and backgrounds to feel safe, respected and valued for who they are. These are just some of the many reasons it’s important to support children to live an included life:
- Developing friendships
- Being exposed to opportunities for interactions
- Increased wellbeing, confidence and self-esteem
- Feeling safe and welcome
- Developing a sense of belonging
- Receiving better opportunity to reach full potential
- Acquiring life skills
- Increased parent participation
- Families being more integrated into the community
How does Me2 Club view the concept of inclusion?
Me2 Club takes a rights-based approach to disability inclusion, addressing the physical, communication, legal and attitudinal barriers that people with disabilities face.
For us, inclusion means providing support, differentiating activities and really getting to know a child, learning what they need to help them thrive. It means talking to parents, hearing their voices and ensuring they get a break during activities. It means training staff and choosing volunteers that reflect a shared mindset.
What does inclusion look like at Me2 Club?
Me2 Club volunteers support children and teenagers with additional needs to enjoy leisure activities and clubs. Their role is to ensure they are truly included in the activities, which can take many forms depending on the child’s needs. Their role can include breaking down the group leader’s instructions into bite size chunks, showing children what they need to do, providing encouragement, keeping them focussed or supervising them while they take a sensory break if the activity is very noisy.
We make sure the venue is accessible, that the room is comfortable and that the young people have regular breaks. We also look to provide easy read information, low lighting and low noise levels, which helps with sensory processing differences.
Me2 Club run a youth forum for Wokingham young people with additional needs. We take care to find quiet venues that are accessible to wheelchair users, have somewhere safe and relaxed to go for a sensory break and where we can dim the lights if needed. Me2 Club also ensure that we have lots of adults to assist the young people in taking part if they need to.
Me2 Club offer support to activity providers to make reasonable adaptations to enable as many children as possible to take part in line with The Equality Act 2010.
We invite our SEND young people to help us with recruiting new staff, giving time before recruitment to explain what is expected of them and the basics they need to know. This opportunity also helps work towards reducing anxiety about being in a formal environment and talking to new people.
Inclusion is a human right
Inclusion is an ever-evolving mission and as such requires an ever-evolving strategy.
If you’d like to find out more about inclusion, Me2 Club’s inclusive focus, and learn how you could help us make a difference, we’d love you to visit the Me2Club website and follow our social channels for all our latest updates:
Visit our website: me2club.org.uk
Follow us on Twitter: @me2club
Like us on Facebook: @me2clubcharity
Follow us on Instagram: @me2club