The National Inclusion Project has partnered for one year with the Parks Foundation of Miami-Dade to implement Let’s All Play Inclusion in Miami-Dade Parks’ recreational programs. The National Inclusion Project provided for two Miami-Dade Parks’ recreation specialists to attend their annual conference at their facility earlier this year, and in the Fall will provide a program model and expertise training to all Miami-Dade Parks’ after-school and summer camp recreation specialists to incorporate into Miami-Dade Parks’ children’s programs.
“Miami-Dade Parks is delighted to partner with the National Inclusion Program to further enhance our efforts to include children of all abilities within our model Fit2Play® summer camp and after-school programs, as well as other diversified recreational programs available to children,” said Jack Kardys, Director of Miami-Dade Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Department and board member of the Parks Foundation of Miami-Dade. “Miami-Dade Parks strives to provide a wide range of recreational programs and opportunities for children with disabilities to stay active and healthy,” he added.
The National Inclusion Project was co-founded in 2003, by entertainer Clay Aiken, and works to bridge the gap between young people with disabilities and the world around them by opening doors for all children to be included together, primarily achieved through recreational programs and training to make after school programs, summer camps and classroom activities inclusive for all children. Its Let’s ALL Play program is a research-validated national model funded by the Project that brings an inclusive recreational experience to children with disabilities by giving them the same experience as children without disabilities. All children come together to participate in typical recreational activities such as swimming, arts and crafts, community service, physical fitness and more. Over the last three years, the Project has provided training, curriculum, and support to YMCAs, JCCs, Boys & Girls Clubs, 4H, CampFire USA, and other community organizations.
In 2014, the Project is partnering with 92 recreational programs in 36 states. Teaming with the Parks Foundation of Miami-Dade is another exciting step toward their goal of full inclusion. “We feel that working with the Parks Foundation will help us further our mission to open doors in communities nationwide for children with disabilities to experience everything life has to offer,” says Jerry Aiken, Executive Director.
In 2008, the Project enlisted the services of The Center for Social Development and Education at the University of Massachusetts-Boston to assess the implementation of Let’s ALL Play. Overwhelming evidence showed that children with disabilities improved self-esteem, social skills, confidence to participate, and sport and motor skills. Children of all abilities were equally likely to develop friendships with each other.
About the National Inclusion Project:
The National Inclusion Project serves to bridge the gap that exists between young people with disabilities and the world around them. They partner with communities and programs to teach others how to be inclusive so that kids with and without disabilities can experience life – long benefits. By driving the movement for social inclusion in after school programs, summer camps, and in the classroom, children of all abilities learn, play and serve together. To date, the Project has partnered with over 200 programs nationally and has impacted more than 50,000 children. 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.
About The Parks Foundation of Miami-Dade
The Parks Foundation of Miami-Dade is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization supporting the Miami-Dade County Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Department’s efforts to further develop Miami-Dade County’s world-class parks system for residents and visitors. Its mission is to create a healthier, more livable and sustainable Miami community by ensuring the implementation of the Parks Open Space Master Plan and the development of year-round park and recreation programs for local children, adults and people with disabilities. For more information on the Parks Foundation, please visit www.liveaparklife.com.
About the Miami-Dade County Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Department
Nationally accredited, three-time winner of the NRPA National Gold Medal Award, winner of the 2013 Florida Governor’s Sustained Excellence Award and the 2009 Florida Governor’s Sterling Award for excellence in management and operations, Miami-Dade County Parks is the third largest county park system in the United States, consisting of 260 parks and 12, 825 acres of land. It is one of the most unique park and recreation systems in the world. Made up of more than just playgrounds and athletic fields, it also comprises out-of-school, sports development, and summer camp programs; programs for seniors and people with disabilities; educational nature centers and nature preserves; environmental restoration efforts; arts and culture programs and events; the renowned Zoo Miami and the Deering Estate at Cutler; the Crandon Tennis Center, home of the Sony Open; golf courses; beaches; marinas; campgrounds; pools; and more. For information about Miami-Dade County Parks, call 311 or visit www.miamidade.gov/parks.