Recently I had the opportunity to watch Including Samuel, a 58-minute documentary by filmmaker Dan Habib about his young son who has cerebral palsy. It’s a really well-made film, exploring the potential and the challenges of inclusion from Mr. Habib’s perspective as a parent.
I was struck by the number of questions the film raises, but doesn’t necessarily answer. Perhaps that is what makes the story so appealing—no two people are going to have the same answers. The film introduces you to four different people, each with their own set of abilities and disabilities, and each with their own experiences of inclusion for good or bad.
The questions Habib raises—does inclusion work? Why or why not?—depend so greatly on the people involved. We meet Keith Jones, a disability rights advocate, who struggled to get the education he wanted due to his cerebral palsy. We meet the principal of a school where inclusion is the norm, and seems to work. We also meet a student and the teachers at a school just beginning inclusion, with lots of questions and concerns about its success.
For a staff member at CLC Network, an organization devoted to helping schools be as successful as possible at serving all of their students, it’s not easy to watch a student and teachers struggle through the early stages of inclusion as shown so apparently in this film. I just want to give them every encouragement to stick with it.
But, we then meet a young woman who thrived more successfully in a segregated environment than in her formerly inclusive school. We certainly can’t deny what’s best for her. Each person is different, and their needs are not going to be the same.
Even though this film was not created with or from a Christian perspective, you can easily see the love for Samuel in his family and community. If his inclusive school was not an option, I think we can all agree that a lot of people would have missed out on knowing this child.
To see a preview of this film, click here. You can also view a great follow-up piece about Samuel’s school and family here. CLC Network is not associated with Dan Habib or Including Samuel. Please note this film may include offensive language.
Elizabeth Lucas Dombrowski is the advancement director at CLC Network. Learn more about inclusive education on our website.