What exactly is welcoming?
Think about what your community views as welcoming. For many, welcoming means greeting people at the front of the church, synagogue, mosque or temple. Many faithful people also see welcoming as hospitality, as in the sharing of food or in the invitation of new members into an activity. Welcoming goes beyond the invitation, it includes making sure that you find out the needs of individuals with disabilities to participate and then engage in a way that meets these needs. Welcoming also means enabling participation in all aspects of your community so that individuals know that they are able to engage.
Full and meaningful participation in rituals, worship and faith community activities affirms belonging and is often an extension of one’s faith. People with disabilities in your community may be excluded from full participation in these activities but inclusion is almost always possible with some creative thinking and a plan for action.
Ontario faith communities can be more welcoming to people with disabilities. You can be one of those by:
- Reflecting on the current involvement of people with visible and invisible disabilities in their community
- Identifying and removing barriers of attitude, communication, and architecture
- Encouraging people with disabilities to participate in the religious, social and cultural life of their community