On Saturday, October 16th, The National Inclusion Project hosted an outstanding event. The successful Champions Gala was filled with hope, encouragement, motivation, friendships, good food, generosity and, wonderful music by Clay Aiken and his back-up band. It was a wonderful celebration of an extraordinary year.
One of the most interesting events of the weekend was held Saturday morning. Billed as a volunteer round table, the meeting was hosted by Aron Hall and Jerry Aiken. Priscilla Brame and Diane Bubel were also there to help.
After a short overview of the Pepsi Refresh Project, Aron and Jerry took a moment to share the successes of the foundation.
- 80 cents of each dollar goes to the children
- 20,000 children have benefited from the National Inclusion Project
- There have been 110 programs in 38 states
- $5 million has been invested to advance inclusion
The participants were told that the 18 Let’s All Play camp programs that were initially funded are all continuing with the program. Although they no longer qualify for funding from the Project, inclusion has been integrated into their daily practices.
25 programs were funded by the project in 2008, 31 programs in 2009, and 45 programs in 2010. The programs have taken place in 23 states, including Alaska. The goal for 2011 is 50 programs!
Jerry stated that the work of the foundation is a social movement and they are working for social change. One of the Project’s beliefs is that every child can make a friend, can participate, and can be successful. He emphasized that it is not about dropping standards, but finding a new and unique path for success for each child.
It was mentioned that there are three important components of a successful inclusion program:
- Children with disabilities
- Accessible activities provided for them
- Positive relationships with other children
The Saturday workshop was filled with many ideas and suggestions for successful Let’s All Play programs and the morning went by quickly as the group was involved in a “hands-on” presentation. There was so much positive interaction and each participant went away, filled with hope, excitement and the determination to share this information with the world. Many of the attendants were interested in getting more training and wanted more information on the regional Let’s All Play training.
Aron talked about some of the projects that have been successful in raising support for the National Inclusion Project. He stated that each program can be duplicated and that those who started the project are willing to pass along the information to make it run easily.
1. Wrapping For Inclusion….there is a detailed analysis of the best dates and places and examples of stories that can be used by volunteers.
2. Black-tie Yard Sale….an upscale yard sale. Invite antique dealers and members of clubs in the area. Hold it at a historic home.
3. Roll N Stroll….It has been very successful in New Jersey and Ohio.
4. “Toy Day”….various large trucks and equipment are placed in an area. Children are allowed to climb on them and ask questions of the operators….think fire trucks, bulldozers, tractors.
The National Inclusion Project is just seven years old, yet it has partnered 110 projects in 38 states and invested $5 million to advance inclusion. They have become the leader in recreational/social inclusion. What an amazing accomplishment! Let’s all stand up and work to see that this wonderful work continues until inclusion is the norm and the National Inclusion Project is no longer a necessity!