Creating Inclusive School Environments

Logan at Graduation

In my previous blog posts, we’ve spoken about the importance of inclusion in schools for those with physical disabilities, but now it’s time to put the plan into action. How can you make a difference? My name is Logan Stewart, and I am currently in my final year of the public relations program at Algonquin College as well as working as a public relations intern with Easter Seals Ontario.

First, it’s all about education. Learn about different physical disabilities and teach your students about them and if you are a student speak to your teacher about incorporating a lesson about disabilities. Teachers can discuss influential Canadians with physical disabilities and the impact they’ve made on our world. The more students learn about those with physical disabilities the more understanding and open-minded they will become which will make those with disabilities a lot more comfortable and feel seen.

“children need to be able to learn and grow as well as interact with their peers.”

Next, when creating activities in school, try to keep in mind everyone has different abilities. For example, not everyone can play a traditional game of soccer. When planning activities make sure you talk to the student with a disability, or their caregiver to ensure it is as inclusive as possible. Thinking back to my elementary school days, my time in class got a lot better when the teachers asked me what they could do to make a difference, especially in gym class. We ended up brainstorming and I started using my walker around the school during gym class as a way for me to remain still active but also do something that was suited for me. And although it wasn’t perfect because I wasn’t really included with the other students, it was a start. You can also take the time to learn about the student individually and focus on their strengths instead of the things they can’t do.

Like I mentioned in a previous blog post one of the challenges I faced as a child in school was playing on the playground during recess. It was not adapted for wheelchair users at all, and I think that is important because children need to be able to learn and grow as well as interact with their peers. Play structures can include ramps so that those who use wheelchairs can use the equipment. The playground could also include swings that everyone can use. The biggest thing about the playgrounds for me as a child was the ground that the playgrounds were on was usually rocks, so my wheelchair couldn’t even come close to the play structure, so I was often left alone on the sidelines as kids had fun.

If you think about it, it really doesn’t take much to think about everyone when it comes to making adaptive and inclusive learning environments. Think about how you would feel if you were left alone with no friends because you couldn’t participate properly. Kids deserve to be able to. Learn, grow, and make connections comfortably. Let’s give them that opportunity!

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