The following is an excerpt from the article titled Combating Loneliness With Inclusion written by Special Olympics Chief, Global Youth and Education, Jacqueline Jodl, Ph.D, and published in the Diplomatic Courier:
“As policymakers and education leaders attempt to triage the many challenges faced by young people in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, they should consider prioritizing the principles and promise of social inclusion—improving the terms on which individuals and groups take part in society so they may lead a better life. For students with disabilities, this isn’t just about creating physical infrastructure, like wheelchair ramps or special signage. It’s about creating social infrastructure—social activities, clubs, and competitions—that bring people together and create truly inclusive attitudes and mindsets.
Social and emotional learning (SEL)—the process through which young people learn to manage feelings, set goals, make decisions, and feel empathy for others—is an effective vehicle to achieve social inclusion. The science behind the benefits of SEL is clear. Drawing from psychology, economics, medicine, and brain and learning science, the research shows social-emotional skills predict academic and career success and improve cognitive skills, including creativity, critical thinking, and problem solving. Developing certain social and emotional skills in children can help counteract the negative effects of poverty and close opportunity and achievement gaps. Beyond cognitive development and academic outcomes, the OECD’s Survey of Social and Emotional Skills found SEL benefits are important drivers of mental health and labor market prospects. Building SEL competency is especially crucial for students with ID who learn to manage their emotions, increase self-efficiency, and build stable relationships.”