+
Want to see what inclusion looks like? A high school marching band sets the bar for us all.

The word "inclusion" gets thrown around a lot these days, but it's not always clear what that looks like. People with disabilities and different abilities are everywhere—what does it mean for everyone to be "included"?

A video shared by the mom of a severely intellectually disabled teen offers a perfect example of what it can look like—and people are loving it.


RELATED: Snow White soothing a boy having an 'autism meltdown' will make you believe in Disney magic

Carissa Brealey Bonacci of New Mexico shared a video on Facebook of her sons, Aidan and Isaac, performing with the Oñate High School marching band. She wrote:

My middle son, Isaac, is severely intellectually disabled and rarely gets to participate in the same activities as his siblings. When Isaac started high school this year, my older son, Aidan, convinced me to let Isaac join the marching band. Isaac cannot play an instrument and needs constant supervision, so I was extremely skeptical. But marching band is Aidan's family-away-from-home, and I was touched at how much he wanted to share that with his little brother. I caved, and I've been blindly sending the two of them off to band camp and rehearsals for the last six weeks. I figured Isaac was helping set up equipment or run water bottles, and he came home every day very happy and chatty. What more could I want?

Last night the boys had their first marching performance of the season. Isaac did not set up equipment or run water bottles. He PLAYED. He played percussion just like his big brother. He stood front and center in the percussion pit and totally jammed on a drum pad. The pad muted his playing, which was pretty off-beat and completely out of sync with the rest of the band, but he had the time of his life. I bawled.

The band director has thanked me for allowing Isaac to be part of the band, and Aidan has told me many times how much everyone loves having Isaac there, but I don't think I really got it until last night. I'm so used to Isaac being treated like a burden (with varying degrees of patience and tolerance), even by relatives. Seeing him be so thoroughly appreciated for who he is (and not judged for what he isn't) is something I never expected outside our family. I just had to share. I couldn't be prouder of both my boys.

The fact that Isaac's big brother advocated for him to join the marching band is touching. The fact that the band director not only welcomed Isaac in, but thanked his mother for allowing him to be part of the band is wonderful. And the fact that Isaac got to be an active participant in the band's performance and not just a helper on the sideline is what inclusivity really looks like.

Inclusion means making accommodations that allow a person to participate in an activity in a way that works for everyone. Often that means getting creative. Sometimes it means thinking outside the box. But it always means putting compassion and empathy ahead of rigid rules or traditions.

RELATED: If you spot a 'sensory room' at a sports stadium, you likely have this couple to thank.

When inclusion is done well, everyone wins. In this story, Isaac is happy. The band is happy. The band director is happy. Isaac's family is happy.

And frankly, anyone who is not happy watching this video needs to have their grinchy ol' heart examined. This is humanity at its best. Well done, Oñate High.

A breastfeeding mother's experience at Vienna's Schoenbrunn Zoo is touching people's hearts—but not without a fair amount of controversy.

Gemma Copeland shared her story on Facebook, which was then picked up by the Facebook page Boobie Babies. Photos show the mom breastfeeding her baby next to the window of the zoo's orangutan habitat, with a female orangutan sitting close to the glass, gazing at them.

"Today I got feeding support from the most unlikely of places, the most surreal moment of my life that had me in tears," Copeland wrote.

Keep ReadingShow less

This article originally appeared on 01.31.20


As the nation helplessly watches our highest halls of government toss justice to the wind, a 2nd grader has given us someplace to channel our frustrations. In a hilarious video rant, a youngster named Taylor shared a story that has folks ready to go to the mat for her and her beloved, pink, perfect attendance pencil.

Keep ReadingShow less

She's enjoying the big benefits of some simple life hacks.

James Clear’s landmark book “Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones” has sold more than 9 million copies worldwide. The book is incredibly popular because it has a simple message that can help everyone. We can develop habits that increase our productivity and success by making small changes to our daily routines.

"It is so easy to overestimate the importance of one defining moment and underestimate the value of making small improvements on a daily basis,” James Clear writes. “It is only when looking back 2 or 5 or 10 years later that the value of good habits and the cost of bad ones becomes strikingly apparent.”

His work proves that we don’t need to move mountains to improve ourselves, just get 1% better every day.

Most of us are reluctant to change because breaking old habits and starting new ones can be hard. However, there are a lot of incredibly easy habits we can develop that can add up to monumental changes.

Keep ReadingShow less