Guiding Principles

1. Belonging is a fundamental human need

Heads Up for Inclusion fosters the development of relationships between people of diverse abilities which increases opportunities for young people with intellectual disabilities to belong to their school and their community.

2. Inclusion needs to be intentional

Inclusion is more than physical proximity. The Amigos program intentionally promotes connections between young people with and without disabilities in order to share common interests, engage in meaningful activities and develop friendships.

3. Friendships enrich our lives

The research is clear. Relationships contribute to happiness, healthfulness and longevity. The more friends a person has the better their life is in terms of jobs, housing, health, transportation and opportunities. (A. Condeluci)

4. Relationships are real

Relationships are formed on the basis of equality and with the understanding that Amigos learn from one another. Amigos are not referred to as volunteers.

5. Differences are accepted and celebrated

Amigos find out what makes their partner ‘shine’ and build relationships based on interests, strengths, abilities and capacity which strengthens everyone’s skills. Amigos participate in age appropriate activities and celebrate regularly.

6. Inclusive behaviour is demonstrated

We believe a person with an intellectual disability is to be included in any conversation concerning them and in the adage: “Nothing about me without me”. We use ‘people first’ language which emphasizes the person rather than the disability.

7. Amigos are role models for social change

Our high schools and communities become stronger when a person with a disability is invited ‘in’ and included in a social group, educational opportunity, community group or leisure activity where their gifts can be appreciated.

8. Nothing is Impossible when you believe I’m possible!

Heads Up for Inclusion believes in the power of relationships to change the lives of young people with intellectual disabilities and the lives of those they touch.