More people today are making an effort to include persons with special needs into the larger community. However, “community inclusion” is more than just putting persons into settings that are more “normal.” Community happens when companions build bridges from persons with special needs to other persons. Communities can be large or small, but true community means that all persons feel included and valued for whatever contribution they make or role they play in the life of the group.
Companions can learn much from community development models that start with people instead of structures and institutions. The asset-based approach is particularly helpful because it consciously works at including persons who might not naturally be included in community life.
There are an increasing number of models of community life that start with building community around persons with disabilities and mental illness and then extend that community life toward the larger geographical community surrounding them.
Finally, we look to the resources of faith in building community with a page specifically on Christian resources. The heritage of the Mennonite community, rooted in the 16th century Radical Reformation movement of Christianity known as Anabaptism, has been particularly consistent on the role of the community in the faith journey, even as it has struggled to make its vision of community as relevant to the modern urban experience as it was to traditional agrarian life.
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