Is being ‘included’ really being excluded?

I’m following up my previous post with this moving story from Camphill School Aberdeen. It demonstrates how the work of the Camphill Aberdeen charities can make such a huge difference for individuals and for families in crisis.

Rowan (not his real name) came to Camphill School Aberdeen a few years ago. His family was close to breaking point. Rowan was ‘attending’ his local school but was more ‘excluded’ than ‘included’.

excluded child
Stock photo posed by model

Since coming to Camphill the transformation has been unbelievable, as his key worker explains:

“He came to us socially isolated, insecure, with no confidence and with very low self esteem. Now, he has a circle of friends both in school and in the community to whom he relates. He has a girl friend. He participates in a wide variety of activities and is thriving.

“His self confidence knows no bounds. Last term at our open stage night, he played guitar and sang a duet with one of our co-workers. He has represented the school at a regional swimming gala and won medals.

"Basically he has been given his life back, as have his family who now – relieved from the stress of a having a ‘problem’ child – can return to some kind of normality.

"They have moved from needing, for their own sanity, to ‘send him away’ with all the guilt feelings that accompany this, to being ready and proud to have him live at home again.”

Inclusion is an attitude not an activity. Yes technically Rowan was included, but the reality was so very different. Nobody wanted to play with him, no one had time to teach him, no one invited him home for their Birthday Party, and no-one attended his.

The family was in crisis; not many want to visit a family in such a situation.

Why do so many families have to suffer before help is offered? Why is residential schooling the last option?

Residential schooling can offer true inclusion where everyone is valued and recognised as having something to offer. Let us promote inter-dependence rather than in-dependence and loneliness. Let us share the care. Let us celebrate our differences.

Laurence Alfred
Co-ordinator, Camphill School Aberdeen

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