I want to give a 'shout out' to some of my fellow employees at Vita.
Friday was scheduled for us to have games that had the purpose of bringing us all together to learn more about the work going on in the agency. We had to enter as teams and I immediately began to worry. A lifetime of being last chosen for teams made me leery - not so much of losing, I'm OK with that - but inflicting the certainly of loss on an unsuspecting partner, that didn't seem fair. Too, I worried about the games themselves. I'm in a wheelchair, would I be able to participate in all the activities? Yep, that's me, believing somehow that worry is the best solution to every concern.
About an hour before the games were to begin one of the organizers knocked on my door and asked to come in. I had just finished something on the computer so I said, 'yeah, absolutely.' She sat down and said, 'I'd like to talk about the games. There is one game, Musical Chairs, that we want to adapt so that you can play.' It was all very matter of fact. I made the obvious joke (just because it's obvious doesn't mean you don't make it) that I'm going to win every game of Musical Chairs I'm in because, I'm already in the chair. OK, not so funny. But she smiled, and continued.
They had come up with a very clever way of adapting the game so that I could play and, not only that, play equally with just as much a chance of winning as anyone else. We then discussed where it was to happen and how my chair would be accommodated so that I'd have lots of room to move. Discussion finished, adaption done, it was near time to start the games.
Everyone gathered in the board room and there was lots of laughter and lots of banter, teams were taunting each other. It was terrific the spirit was high. When it came to our turn to take on another team in Musical Chairs, the adaption was made quick and easy with no big fuss about it. We played. And, of course, I was out in the first round. But I lost because the music stopped when I was in the wrong place, not because the adaption was unfair or made the results biased.
I left feeling totally and completely a part of the life of the agency I work for. I left feeling that the attitudes of those around me made it clear that I was included and involved. I didn't have to ask for consideration, it was freely given. I didn't have to sit aside and watch others play, my involvement was also a given. It took nothing but time and thoughtfulness - the two 'tees' of an inclusive and accessible environment.
This taught me something - I learned that inclusion is an act of will. That's all it is. Nothing more. Nothing less. And where there is a will ... there is always a way.