Rethink takes its message of inclusion abroad!
By Dr. Patricia Wright
Rethink values the opportunity to contribute to positive outcomes for all children. In October, Rethink was invited to present content about inclusive education in Moscow, Russia. The conference was hosted by the Naked Heart Foundation. The theme of the conference was Education with Purpose, with an emphasis on promoting inclusive education opportunities for students with disabilities.
The speakers at the conference included parents, advocates, and professionals from the fields of medicine and education. The tenor of each presentation was positive, each with a focus on how to improve the lives of children with disabilities living in Russia today. Success stories were shared, but this was followed by acknowledgment that unfortunately these success stories are not the norm for all children with disabilities.
One of the Russian presenters shared some great video footage of a young girl with significant physical disabilities who was popular at her school partially because of her very cool power chair. This type of story is true in the United States too. Each one of us engaged in supporting people living with disabilities has some great stories of success regarding former students–students who went on to college, became computer programmers, were homecoming king, and were invited to every class-mates birthday parties.
Unfortunately, the fact that we pull out these stories of success is demonstrative of the fact that this is not the experience of most people living with disabilities. Employment outcomes are not what we would hope. Many students with disabilities feel socially isolated and dating and intimacy with a disability presents unique challenges. We all have work to do to improve these outcomes. A quality education utilizing effective educational practices is one strategy to address the concerns.
Conferences are a wonderful place to share information, gather resources, and get energized about working hard and promoting change. Rethink presents at many professional conferences and attends others. We strive to learn from our colleagues and ensure that our work is dedicated to improving the lives of people living with disabilities. Together we can all promote positive change for those living with disabilities.
About Dr. Patricia Wright
Dr. Patricia Wright is Rethink’s VP of Professional Services and a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. Prior to joining Rethink, she was the National Director for Autism Services at Easter Seals, one of the largest social service providers for individuals with autism. Dr. Wright has a passion for education and has dedicated her career to ensuring that individuals with disabilities are fully included in society.