Last week, March 3rd, was Spread the Word: Inclusion Day. Spread the Word to End the Word is a campaign with the belief that “the world would be better if ALL people were valued, respected, embraced, and included.” However, the group that lacks inclusion most are individuals with developmental disabilities. This is why each year MRI takes the entire day to spread awareness of inclusion throughout our community and prepare Spread the Word themed activities for our persons served.
The theme for 2021 was Connection. This theme focused on the relationship between individuals who make one another feel seen, heard, and valued. To kick off the day, our persons served created and performed skits that demonstrated how practicing inclusion can build connection. Afterwards, they learned about inclusion and diversity in a Spread the Word themed bingo game. Additionally, colorful Spread the Word cups filled with goodies were passed out as everyone finished filling out their Inclusion pledge.
To promote and spread awareness of this campaign in our community, we invited community members and organizations to also make pledges to spread the word of inclusion and to build connection throughout the community. Based on the theme of connection, all of the gathered pledges were written on colorful pieces of paper that were connected based on group home, MRI department, and community organizations.
For the finale, all the inclusion pledge chains from persons served, MRI staff, and several community organizations were all connected to form one long paper chain. The inclusion paper chain was hung throughout our Community Day Services building to represent how we are all staying connected despite being apart. Each piece of the paper chain had either a person’s pledge on how they will demonstrate inclusion this year or a kind and uplifting commitment to see, hear, and value others.
Although this past year has created much disconnection in our community, it was a powerful reminder and physical representation of how connection can be maintained, renewed, and formed when we all pledge to stand for inclusion!