Ten Tips to Make Inclusive Activities Successful
February is Jewish Disability Awareness & Inclusion Month. Today’s guest post is by Dr. Beth Rosenwasser, Director of Community Engagement for the Judith Creed Horizons For Achieving Independence (JCHAI). To download this resource as a PDF, click here.
- Plan ahead. Know something about the INTERESTS & SUPPORT NEEDS of all attending.
- LEADING with the ACTIVITY that everyone can participate in, side-by-side, creates community and a level playing field. Braid or cook together first. If you have a meal first, people tend to talk to people they know.
- Have a poster with simple outline of activities in order with pictures. Post in a prominent place (e.g., take off outerwear, pull hair back, jewelry off, wash hands, go-around and say your name, somewhere you volunteer, and your favorite dessert, get a ball of dough and divide into 3 equal pieces, etc.)
- Consider making a “Social Story” or booklet of the poster in #3. This can be shared with participants ahead of time.
- In general, when working with people having developmental disabilities:
- Chunk instructions
- Use concrete terms (less conceptual – this takes some practice – e.g., “people who don’t have enough food or enough healthy foods to eat” versus “food insecurity” or “world hunger” – you might go on to have people list the healthy foods they eat so they can relate to the idea “healthy food”)
- Give people a moment to think before answering (processing speed of language may take 30 seconds longer) – ask a question and they say – let’s take a few moments to think about a time you volunteered, wait 30 seconds, and then ask who might have something to say… even better,
- USE GO-AROUNDS. This way everyone shares. There is a principle that if you have everyone share early in a program, then more people are likely to be active participants as you progress
- When making challahs, balance getting/giving help versus making/allowing mistakes. Cultivate patience.
- Show and guide, rather than using all talk to demonstrate. Don’t assume automatic understanding. Watch for understanding and repeat or show if needed.
- When demonstrating, be sure you are oriented the same direction (not across from them so they have to imaging it backward).
- ADAPT braiding or other activities for success. Examples: Use tins to hold and bake the braided challahs so they all come out the same shape. Make a monkey bread challah where you make balls of challah and roll in spice and throw into a tin. Make 2 strand twists. Braid from one direction, not both. Roll strands in spice rather than put spice inside. Squeeze dough to make strands – for some people, rolling a strand is not possible.
- Don’t sideline a person with a disability if they are tangential or awkward. Reciprocity is a social skill. Advocate for “neurotypical” people to learn reciprocity too to go the extra yard to be inclusive. Everyone matters in a community.