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The National Inclusion Project has partnered for the second year with Girl Scouts of the Northwestern Great Lakes (GSNWGL) to implement Let’s ALL Play—Inclusion in Recreational Programs. The partnership will allow children with disabilities to enjoy successful recreational experiences in an inclusive setting. As part of this initiative, the National Inclusion Project provides a program model, training, expertise, and an award of $8,000.
The National Inclusion Project was co-founded in 2003 by entertainer Clay Aiken, and works to bridge the gap between young people with disabilities and the world around them by opening doors for all children to be included together, primarily achieved through recreational programs and training to make after school programs, summer camps and classroom activities inclusive for all children. Its Let’s ALL Play program is a research-validated national model funded by the Project that brings an inclusive recreational experience to children with disabilities by giving them the same experience as children without disabilities. All children come together to participate in typical recreational activities such as swimming, arts and crafts, community service, physical fitness and more. Over the last three years, the Project has provided training, curriculum and support to YMCAs, JCCs, Boys & Girls Clubs, 4H, CampFire USA and other community organizations.
In 2014, the Project is partnering with 92 recreational programs in 36 states. Teaming with GSNWGL is another exciting step toward their goal of full inclusion. “We feel that working with Girl Scouts of the Northwestern Great Lakes will help us further our mission to open doors in communities nationwide for children with disabilities to experience everything life has to offer,” said Jerry Aiken, Executive Director.
In 2008, the Project enlisted the services of The Center for Social Development and Education at the University of Massachusetts-Boston to assess the implementation of Let’s ALL Play. Overwhelming evidence showed that children with disabilities improved self-esteem, social skills, confidence to participate, and sport and motor skills. Children of all abilities were equally likely to develop friendships with each other.
“We are so thankful to be able to partner with the National Inclusion Project for a second year,” said Carrie Andringa, Reaching Out Manager for GSNWGL. “Girl Scouts has always been an organization that has welcomed girls of all abilities, and it is crucial for us to continually improve our services to all of our members and train our volunteers to do the same so everyone feels comfortable and welcome, and can have a meaningful Girl Scout experience.”
In partnership with over 6,000 adult volunteers, GSNWGL serves nearly 20,000 girls in 58 counties across northern Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Girl Scouts is the world’s preeminent leadership development organization for girls, building girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place. To join, volunteer, reconnect, or donate to Girl Scouts, call 888.747.6945 or visit www.gsnwgl.org. GSNWGL is a proud United Way partner program.
About the National Inclusion Project
The National Inclusion Project serves to bridge the gap that exists between young people with disabilities and the world around them. They partner with communities and programs to teach others how to be inclusive so that kids with and without disabilities can experience life – long benefits. By driving the movement for social inclusion in after school programs, summer camps, and in the classroom, children of all abilities learn, play and serve together. To date, the Project has partnered with over 200 programs nationally and has impacted over 50,000 children. For more information on the National Inclusion Project and to help ensure no child sits on the sidelines visit their website at www.inclusionproject.org.