One in four Americans have a disability, so every parish and school is touched by disabilities. Many parishes and schools have made efforts to include parishioners and students of all abilities. When we provide an accessible school and parish, we are allowing people with disabilities to be present. When we include, we are unintentionally welcoming individuals with disabilities as outsiders into our select group of insiders. But when we create belonging we have gone beyond providing an accessible environment and welcoming the stranger to ensuring that parishioners and students with disabilities, belong as fellow Orthodox Christians.
What does it mean to belong?
When we belong we are welcomed: the community greets us with hospitality and a warm welcome.
We belong when we feel known: people in the community get to know about our interests and gifts.
We feel we belong when we are accepted: personal interactions over time let us know we are accepted for who we are.
We feel we belong when we are card for: when people care about us by showing concern.
We feel we belong when we are befriended: when we have developed friendships with members of our community.
And when we belong we feel needed: we feel we contribute to the community and our contributions are recognized and appreciated.
That Every Ability May Belong wants to ensure that this sense of belonging extends to parishioners and students of all abilities.
That Every Ability May Belong, reflects a new emphasis on belonging for individuals with disabilities and their families. That Every Ability May Belong challenges our parishes and schools to move beyond inclusion to belong