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12.19 NEWSLETTER
CONSULTATION | TRAINING | IMPLEMENTATION
BUILDING STRONGER COMMUNITIES BY PROVIDING EXPERT GUIDANCE ON INCLUSION OF PERSONS WITH DIVERSE ABILITIES
Hello <<First Name>>,

I met Andrew Lawson 10 years ago when we took the same Zumba class at the local YMCA. He loved his favorite songs, demonstrated some smooth moves on the dance floor and had many friends in the class. A few years later as the Director of Inclusion at that same Y, I got to know him (and his family) well when he was a member of our Unified Basketball team. Active in other areas of the Y as well, he exemplified what it meant to be part of a community. In fact what I would soon learn is that Andrew made community wherever he went. He brought people together and taught everyone around him what it meant to focus on the positive and to see the possibilities in every situation he touched. Andrew demonstrated daily that inclusion works
Sadly, our community suffered a great loss when Andrew passed away in 2018. I am honored beyond words to be part of an exciting collaboration with the Andrew James Lawson Foundation to keep his legacy alive. 
This newsletter is dedicated to you my friend.

Lisa Drennan

MERGE  Founder
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HONORING THE LEGACY OF A FRIEND TO ALL

MERGE is honored to be working with the Andrew James Lawson Foundation to launch a pilot program with student leaders of Hull High School. Starting in January 2020, the goal of the Inclusion Project is to provide education to create a school culture where students with disabilities belong and are valued members of the school community. 
Topics to be explored during an 8 week after-school class include: the meaning of inclusion, learning about different disabilities such as autism or Down syndrome, understanding that language matters, and overcoming barriers and fears around interacting with people with disabilities.
Hull High School superintendent Michael Devine talks about the project,“We want to give students with disabilities every chance to be fully involved with their school and their peers. We also recognized that in order to do this, we need to have students receive education about disabilities and how to appropriately interact with these students. That is what this project is all about.” 


ENGAGING VOLUNTEERS WORKSHOP A HUGE SUCCESS
On December 12th, MERGE Founder Lisa Drennan and the Massachusetts Service Alliance provided a workshop giving attendees the tools and confidence to welcome and support volunteers with diverse abilities to be valued members of their communities. 
Representatives from Mass Audubon, New England Village, Kennedy Donovan Center, South Shore YMCA, Arc of Bristol County, South Shore Natural Science Center, Cape Cod YMCA, Boys & Girls Club of Lowell and the New England Aquarium and more were in attendance. 

Lauren Mulkern of the Arc of Bristol County found tremendous value in the workshop, "
The training was fantastic, I was highly impressed with the interactive groups. It is encouraging to hear all of the organizations that are working towards the mission of true inclusion."
Thank you to our hosts, New England Village in Pembroke MA!
LEARN MORE ABOUT A MERGE TRAINING

TEACHING INCLUSIVE PRACTICES AT UMASS BOSTON

Lisa Drennan, MERGE Founder, was recently a guest lecturer for UMASS Boston's Exercise & Health Science students. The presentation, “Inclusion Principles and Participation Models for Inclusive Physical Activity and Recreation Programs” wrapped up the semester for students of the Adaptive Physical Activity Course. Feedback from attendees was overwhelmingly positive, "Your presentation was amazing!  Several students approached me on Thursday and expressed how much they enjoyed your talk and how valuable the information was. You certainly finished my semester with a bang!", Heidi Stanish, PhD, Associate Professor, UMass Boston.

QUESTION: What does "Meet People Where They Are At" mean?

ANSWER: When offering recreational or community programs, when we meet people where they are at we work to learn about each individual participant, their strengths, gifts, areas of need and support. We make modifications and accommodations to how they participate in a way that puts value on what they bring to the table so that they can participate in the most successful way possible. In other words we don't ask the person to change to fit the needs of the program, the program makes changes to fit the needs of the person participating so that they are valued members who belong.
READ OTHER TESTIMONIALS ABOUT MERGE!






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MERGE Diverse Abilities Inclusion Consultant · 3 Sandy Ln · Pembroke, MA 02359-3422 · USA

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