How to Be Included in Your Community

Man with Down syndrome smiling on his bed

We all want to be included and people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) are no different. Unfortunately, many people with IDD are excluded from the larger community, mainly because others are not sure how to include with someone who has a disability.

The CDC defines disability inclusion as, “Including people with disabilities in everyday activities and encouraging them to have roles similar to their peers who do not have a disability.

One way that inclusion can be easily achieved is if you or your loved one wants to pursue a passion. Pursuing a passion will connect you with other like-minded people who are there to share positive experiences. Here are three ways how you and your loved one can become more involved in your community.

Join a sports team, club or group.

From the time Anthony was little, he was involved in his community by playing on sports teams. He grew up in a great neighborhood with a lot of kids whom he played with all of the time. Anthony has Down syndrome but that never came in between his relationships with his friends and neighbors.

Lori, Anthony’s mother, when reminiscing on how he got to where he is today, an independent, kind, wonderful adult, speaks to having a neighborhood and community that was accepting and welcoming to her son.

“How those parents came to me and thanked me for sharing Anthony with them, that made their kids better kids. Because he was who he was, and he didn’t really need anything from them. But they all felt protective. They all loved him. He’s a good kid.”

Check your local area’s listings for sports, or art, music, baking, pottery or more. Your loved one’s passions can speak to a larger community and a place for them to grow and be included.

Volunteer with a group or a cause you feel passionate about.

Giving back and connecting with people who have the same passion and beliefs as you will put you solidly into your community with a great group to interact with. The right volunteering option can help you to find friends, connect with the community, learn new skills, and even advance your career.

Find a job that you love.

Having a job gives people a way to be productive members of society. It contributes to your happiness, helps you to build confidence and self-esteem, and rewards you financially.

Join a church.

People we support often tell us that church is where they first felt completely included – somewhere they truly belonged. Psalm 139 says that we are all “wonderfully made” by our Creator and that the Body of Christ is only truly complete when all people are a part of the body. Try joining your local church, you may be happily surprised how welcoming this community is.

Pursuing your passions can create so many healthy avenues like financial stability, a group to belong to and so many more. Take the first step to be included in your community and find something to do that you love.