Tagged with: advocate awareness disability fitness inclusion
A while back I wrote an article about the concept of Burnout and the qualities of Burnout that professionals and individuals sometimes fail to recognize when it happens. In short, Burnout refers to long-term exhaustion and disengaging from subjects that are important to us. Regardless of whether Burnout happens in an athletic or professional sense, when a person experiences it, it can cause us to pause and question: “Why am I doing this?”
Twenty years ago when I started in the disability field, I saw attitudes, environments, and systems that I wanted to influence. I wanted to make my community more inclusive and the communities around me more inclusive. Inclusive to me means creating easier access and participation – both within built environments and simultaneously creating full involvement with my peers, both with and without disabilities.
I don’t want to just get to the door, I want to get in and engage. The concept of inclusion and fitness have been around for decades and yet many people with disabilities still fight to not only get in, but to also engage. True engagement to me means participating with every person within a given environment.
I recently attended a summit on the topic of Inclusive Fitness. The event brought together multiple groups – individuals with disabilities, family members, and a variety of professionals from fitness rehabilitation disciplines, education, and others across the health sector. The theme of the summit was about creating new paradigms or models related to inclusion, fitness, and forming partnerships.
What struck me about this event was the passion. The summit covered perspectives from early childhood to adulthood. Multiple sessions were held discussing the importance of assessment, data, and general value of inclusion and fitness. The event was designed to serve as a catalyst for the development of inclusive fitness coalitions across the State and ultimately the country.
For successful coalition development, groups of people need to come together with a common goal and engage. For inclusive fitness to happen and spread, people need to observe their communities and identify where inclusive fitness is happening, identify what resources currently exist, gather data, engage, and form nontraditional partnerships between individuals, families, schools, community-based organizations, and businesses to expand what is working.
Change starts when people come together with a new or reignited spark of passion. The sphere of change grows when people take that passion and start to engage. It happens when we start to observe what exists – when we see the programs and the people that are including people with disabilities every day and it’s just a part of everyday practice. The sphere of change continues to grow when we connect with the people who are doing it and ask, “How do I do it?”
The day-long summit concluded with an exercise where every individual, professional, and family member that attended had to name what brought them to the event and field. We were asked to name the individual that inspired us and caused us to attend the event. I thought about every person, -past and present who has stood and engaged for me and with me.
I stand for every child and adult behind me. After I attended the summit, any degree of Burnout I felt faded.
I want to again engage, connect, and develop those nontraditional partnerships so that the concepts of inclusion and fitness truly spread. The spark of passion for this field and this work reawakened for me after the summit. So fellow readers, why are you doing this? How are you going to connect, re-connect, and engage around the concepts of inclusion and fitness?