Camp Merrimack ended on Friday and it was a smashing success. Music with Miss Amie was amazing, yoga was a big hit, the visual art projects were challenging and fun, and of course, Miss Melissa’s dance routines were the bomb. But what really made the week so special was how we do “inclusion.”
Seven years ago, when I started JSAP, I was told that inclusion had to mean that children were integrated together with their typical peers. Our version of inclusion is slightly different from that traditional model. The children in my program have every variety of diagnosis and while they may not be in a class with children their age, they are in class with teenagers who volunteer their time to facilitate the children’s participation in the arts.
The results are dramatic, for both the teenagers and the children. For example, this is a note that one of the teens wrote to the student she assisted:
Obviously, Madison Miles, a beautiful 15-year-old girl, benefitted as much, if not more, than Kelsey from their experiences together.
We started out in 2008 with 10 teenagers as volunteers. Today, we have 123 guys and girls who are active volunteers, who want to be included with our students. It may not be what the “experts” mean when they say “inclusion,” but it works!
This 7 minute video is the bomb and it’s how we do inclusion at Merrimack Hall!