Radical Inclusivity

Definition of Inclusion: 1. The action or state of including or of being included within a group or structure. 2. The practice or policy of providing equal access to opportunities and resources for people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized, such as those who have physical or intellectual disabilities, and members of other minority groups.

No one wants to be excluded

Inclusion is a beautiful thing. No one wants to be left out. That is the human condition, it never ends. Nowadays people talk about something called FOMO, or Fear Of Missing Out. Social media is a catalyst for FOMO. It can be hard not to feel excluded when you’re sitting alone looking at all your friends' adventures. It’s important to remember it’s just social media and not real life. But still, it’s only human to want to be included.

Unable to particiapate in an activity

Before I met Mike, who has spinal muscular atrophy, one of my favorite things to do in the summer was to swim in the river. I love the river. It’s so peaceful floating down the river, I have always loved and appreciated growing up in a “river town”.

Nowadays, whenever I hear of a group of friends getting together to go tubing I can’t help but feel a pang of jealousy. It’s no fun to be disqualified without being given a thought. We get it, we’re not the first people who come to mind when our friends are putting together a group of people to go do a physical activity together. Mike is used to this, and he’s very understanding about it. I understand too, BUT….

Isn't there some way to include us?

Then there’s a nagging thought I just can’t help but keep thinking. Which is, once a group of 4 or more is assembled, then surely there is enough man power to lift Mike in and out of the river. Mike has never been tubing in his life! Wouldn’t he love and appreciate it? I think he really would. What people maybe fail to realize is that with a small group of people working together, practically nothing is impossible when it comes to helping a disabled friend. I wish more people thought along these lines.

A few people can make inclusion happen

Case in point, Mike and I went to the beach, just the two of us. We rented a beach wheelchair and I pushed it right into the water, thinking I could get him waist deep and then kind of just hoist him out of the wheelchair and into the water. Then he could float there while I returned the wheelchair to the sand. This was our plan. However, as I pushed the chair into the water we lost our balance right away. 5-7 folks witnessed this happening and ran to our aid. (People can be so helpful!)

With that many folks helping we lifted Mike in and out of the water with ease. We floated around for a while chatting with our newfound friends. They got to do a good deed for a stranger. And everyone was happy. Not hard at all. What a beautiful, perfect day at the beach that was. We will never forget their kindness.

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