Friendship and Social InclusionWhy This Is Important
"Friendships are critical to the happiness and well being of people and to the likelihood that they will be successful in community living. Friends are more important to happiness and quality of life than being competent at [life skills]" (Strully and Strully (1985), The Canadian Journal on Mental Retardation). Through the normal interaction of friends, the false perception is gradually overcome that people with developmental disabilities always need care, are unemployable, and are takers rather than givers.
The full definition of "person-centered planning" includes full community inclusion -- that people with disabilities are full community citizens, have chances to contribute their unique personalities and talents to others, have valued roles in community life, and belong to the community rather than to "the system." Indeed, no program could be considered truly person-centered unless the people it supports have real community friends.
This department features information on strategies and programs that are successful in supporting friendships between people with and without developmental disabilities, and programs that are successful in full community inclusion.