This past year, we have seen the effects that isolation and exclusion can have on us individually, as a community, as a country, and as a global community. A pandemic, physical distancing, powerful reminders of overdue action needed for justice and equity, disruptions to the building blocks of social interaction and more have both energized and exhausted us. They have separated and divided us. They have disconnected us from each other. And when we are disconnected, we are robbed of the opportunity to learn and grow together.
The Spread the Word campaign was built on the idea that inclusion is a skill each of us can learn and practice, together. Inclusion is a skill that builds togetherness through difference and community through adversity. Having listened to and reflected on the experiences of the grassroots leaders of the Spread the Word campaign, we believe it is more important than ever to build connection through inclusion. In light of this, we are excited to announce a renewed focus of Spread the Word >> Inclusion on the importance of connection. Though the tools we use to connect may change, our shared need for connection does not.
At the very root of inclusion is the crucial need for connection. Connection is not only a relationship, but a shared strength developed between individuals. A strength where two individuals can feel seen, heard, and valued. This upcoming year, Spread the Word will explore the need for connection and how individuals with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities need to be seen, heard, and valued in order to develop the skills of inclusion to build connection.