The National Inclusion Project has created a model that builds inclusive friendships for all children, called the Science of Friendship Method. The Science of Friendship Method is a step-by-step guide, which helps adults help children of all abilities make connections and build friendships.
The desire to connect with others is a basic human one, but sometimes, children with disabilities have a hard time making friends quickly. They are often left out during camp playtime or after-school activities. By not being included in these activities, everyone misses out – both children with disabilities and typically developing children.
The Science of Friendship Method aims to change that by giving adults who care for children guidelines for encouraging connections and relationships. This is a proven method that has been developed and refined by the National Inclusion Project since 2003, and was created to improve the possibility that a friendship can be forged between two children.
“The Science of Friendship Method equips people to simplify and amplify a message they’re already passionate about, and take it to other people,” Aron Hall, National Inclusion Project’s Director of Programs said. “The Method is simple, but it’s brilliance is in its simplicity. There’s a lot of connection to be made between kids in just having fun, but with the Method, we’re showing people how to include the kids who might have ordinarily been left out. Now, they can find a role during playtime.”
The Science of Friendship Method is easily adaptable, and has helped kids in a variety of situations make friends and feel included. This method has been successfully used in YMCA programs, Boys and Girls Clubs, parks and recreation departments, Jewish Community Centers, privately-run camps, children’s museums, and zoos in a mix of urban, suburban, and rural areas across the country.
The National Inclusion Project was co-founded in 2003 by Clay Aiken and Diane Bubel to bridge the gap that exists between young people with disabilities and the world around them. By driving the movement for social inclusion in after school programs, summer camps, and community-based activities, children of all abilities learn, play and laugh together. Over the last thirteen years, the Project has provided training, curriculum, and support to YMCAs, JCCs, Boys & Girls Clubs, 4H, CampFire USA, Kids Museums, Zoos and other community organizations looking to become inclusive or enhance their inclusive programs. For more information on the National Inclusion Project and to help ensure no child sits on the sidelines, visit their website at www.inclusionproject.org.
This article was featured in Issue 55 – Celebrating with the People We Love