What is Community Inclusion?

Community Inclusion refers to the opportunities for meaningful interactions between families and children both with and without special needs within the community.

It includes experiences for children with and without special needs and their families which include a sense of belonging and membership, positive social relationships and friendships, and development and learning to reach their full potential.

For more information, see the Joint Position Statement of the Division for Early Childhood (DEC) and the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).

The following activities and locations provide opportunities for Community Inclusion for those families of children with and without special needs, however, the links below provide information associated with accommodations for children with special needs.

Certified Autism Center (CAC) is a facility or organization in which at least 80% of their staff is highly trained, fully equipped and certified in the field of autism. These organizations and individuals are committed to ongoing training and education to remain experts in the field.

The following are Certified Autism Centers in Pennsylvania:

  • Build-A-Bear Workshop (Various locations) Sensory-friendly events at all Workshop locations
  • Pennsylvania Ballet Academy (Cumberland County) Pennsylvania Ballet Academy of Camp Hill offers bALLet, an ALL-inclusive ballet education program. PBA believes that inclusive dance education can help children with special needs enjoy a fuller, richer life. The goal of the inclusive Ballet Education Program is to nurture a love of dance and creative expression in children with physical, cognitive and emotional challenges.
  • ACCESS Philly (Philadelphia County) is a public initiative with over 50 participating locations including museums, gardens, historic sites, and live shows at theaters. ACCESS Philly allows ACCESS cardholders (those Pennsylvania residents who monitor their government-issued cash, food, or medical benefits with an EBT card) to visit participating locations at the deeply discounted rate of $2 per person. Find out which locations participate in ACCESS Philly.
  • Brandywine River Museum of Art (Delaware County) 
  • Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh (Allegheny County)
  • Erie Maritime Museum (Erie County)
  • Museums for All (Statewide). Through Museums for All, those receiving food assistance (SNAP benefits) can gain free or reduced admission to more than 300 museums throughout the United States simply by presenting their EBT card. Search to find a participating museum near you!
  • Please Touch Museum (Philadelphia County) Play Without Boundaries–At this event, the Please Touch Museum is adapted to provide a relaxed environment for individuals with autism, learning differences, and other sensory or communication needs. Designated Therapists and/or Caregivers–One complimentary admission ticket will be issued at the request of the identified care provider or personal care attendant who is aiding a paid visitor or member who requires medical or physical assistance during their visit. 

See examples and read stories of Community Inclusion and how you can share your own story.

Do you have an activity or event in Pennsylvania to add? Send it to Mary at marhal@pakeys.org

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