Staff in recreation programs have the opportunity make significant contributions to the atmosphere in the activities they run. The City of Calgary in Alberta, Canada, has created a process called "Steps to Inclusion" to help the staff in its municipal recreation programs implement policies and practices that support inclusion.
The steps outlined in the process are designed to guide staff in planning ahead for inclusive programs. There are five steps based around questions that staff should ask of themselves and of participants (or their parents). In Step one, staff should ask themselves if they have determined whether they have information about any participants with disabilities in their classes. This stage also involves questions for participants/their parents regarding strengths, interests, skill levels, likes and dislikes.
Step two consists of more in-depth questions to ask participants or their parents regarding communication strategies, any behavioural concerns, and previously successful methods of support. Step three involves identifying any safety concerns. Step four requires staff to reflect on how their group is functioning, ensuring that everyone is understanding instructions, having activities modified appropriately, participating, and having fun. In Step five, staff should evaluate their communication and keep dialogues open among parents, supervisors, volunteers, and participants. If appropriate strategies have been implemented, there should be positive stories to share at this point!
If recreation staff are open-minded and innovative, their programming is more likely to be inclusive, successful, and fun for all participants. To read the Steps to Inclusion in full, click here and to learn more about Calgary's efforts toward inclusion in recreation programming, click here.