May 10, 2008

Wisdom from Wilderness Inquiry

I want to reach back to showcase a pioneer of inclusion - Greg Lais of Wilderness Inquiry.

With the recent emphasis on outdoor sports here as a result of the travelogue covering REATECH in Brazil and the upcoming concurrent Adventure Travel World Summit and Adventure Sports World Summit it seems appropriate to publish this excerpt from Greg's article "Social Inclusion Through Recreation: The Wilderness Inquiry Approach":

As a society we have learned that physical integration – putting people with differences together in one place – is not enough. While we will always need laws to prohibit the most egregious forms of discrimination, we will never be able to force people to respect and accept each other. Wilderness Inquiry recognizes this and uses a unique approach to promote social inclusion within a community. Its formula for inclusion is simple, but it requires that we think more broadly than traditional “special” or “minority population” approaches to inclusion. Briefly, WI’s approach to integration is:

1. Select a popular, voluntary, cooperative venue that has inherent challenges.
2. Provide support so that everyone can participate without changing the fundamental nature of the experience.
3. Actively recruit people from diverse backgrounds and ability levels.
4. Facilitate the process to optimize opportunities for social integration to occur.
5. Provide financial assistance to keep the program within reach of people from all socio-economic backgrounds.

WI has carefully refined its program to seamlessly serve people with disabilities and others who are neither disabled nor associated with other “minority” communities. It is the only program serving people with disabilities and chronic illness in the United States that regularly attracts people who would never consider personally participating in a program for “special populations.” In short, WI has developed a highly effective approach to facilitating social integration – it reaches people from all walks of life, opens their minds and changes their attitudes.


Posted by rollingrains at May 10, 2008 03:04 PM