Inclusion not Same-ness: Nico’s holiday performance

As promised on Friday, here’s a video of Nico’s fall performance that illustrates my principle of “inclusion, not same-ness.” Inclusion is complicated. We demand reasonable accommodations, and we sometimes get them without litigating “reasonable,” but inclusion requires thoughtful, intentional, good-will from all parties.

Sometimes inclusion means bringing someone into a group and enabling them to do the same thing as everyone else through some clever means. Sometimes they need to be included by sitting on the edge or the fringe, present but not in the group. Sometimes, inclusion means creating space for an entirely different expression of self or participation in an activity or class. Inclusion requires creativity and highly individual solutions to problems.

Inclusion also operates in the passive voice. A person is included. The action comes from the rest of us in this construction. But in fact inclusion requires action from everyone, and that’s what I love about this video. The whole first grade, the special ed program, the music teachers, and really all the kids and parents, created a space for Nico to be included. Then Nico included himself by taking center-stage. There are three songs and they get better, with the third Nico acting as “junior band-leader,” holding up signs that say “Boys” and “Girls,” helping the music teacher direct who gobbles at any given time.

It’s also a sign of growth, as during the last two years he really refused to participate during the performances, overwhelmed by noise and so many people.

So congrats to Nico and to his school for creating a space for Nico and for understanding that to be included, he’d need a different space than everyone else. He cannot stand on a riser and sing like the other kids, so what to do? Watch and smile.

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