At Kumbuka Summer Camp we want to provide and promote a safe and inclusive space for all children and parents. We understand that young children love to sort things by color, or by shape, or by type. This is how they make sense of their world by seeing how things fit into categories. When they try to sort out categories of people: race, gender, ability, age, and more, we tend to get all flustered. We worry about saying the wrong thing, causing offense, creating prejudice, etc. We know that young children can clearly see we are NOT all the same and at times have questions or observations about our differences whether it be race, gender or ability.

At Kumbuka we do not want to avoid these observations or questions. We want to create a safe space to explore and discuss them because we know and value that for children to appreciate our differences, we must be unafraid and unashamed to recognize and talk about them. This makes our differences a topic that does not have to be awkward or a “taboo”. Through acknowledging and celebrating our differences we foster open perceptions in our children creating an inclusive, caring, and compassionate community.

4 Ways We Encourage an Inclusive Environment

1. Talk and Answer Questions about Differences. We acknowledge the differences children notice about each other, whether it be colour, ability, gender and explore their curiosities around them.  We make room to try to figure out how children feel, or their simple curiosity, and/or want to learn something, rather then just answering the question or deflecting their observation. We create a space for them to continue to want to know and to learn about the uniqueness of others.

2. Talk about Commonalities. We talk about the things we have in common, universal needs and common interests and how we can share these interests or help each other with these needs. Our understand that common ground is where we start to build and foster relationships of empathy and understanding. Whether it is like or dislikes or wants and needs. Children most especially understand and connect from this space of relationship.

3. Actively expose your child to other perspectives: At camp we will explore and have activities, toys, and books that are diverse and portray positive images of all races, abilities and genders to promote a variety of perspectives and show appreciation for a wide variety of differences.

4. Talking about Inequity. Our focus is not just on building an awareness of differences but also an understanding of fairness and what that means. Whether its sharing toys or using language we want to encourage children to think about fairness and compassion as we play and learn together.

Not talking about our differences and the misconceptions around them allow theses misconception or stereotypes to exist. Children are curious and willing to learn so don’t be afraid to explore and dig deep with them into discovering the uniqueness of our differences. Having open and honest conversations about diversity will help us work together toward a more equitable society for all that appreciates diversity.

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