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Disability Inclusion is an Environmental Issue

By Trina Grogan, Search Inc. Development Manager

This year, at our annual event, 10 Years of Trailblazers: Leading the Way in Inclusive Adventures, we will be honoring Toad&Co. under the leadership of Gordon Seabury and our partnership for our inclusive travel program, Search for Adventure. This program is made possible by Toad&Co.’s 1% for the Planet commitment. 1% commitments certify that an organization gives at least 1% of sales back to environmental causes. Search for Adventure is proud to be a 1% for the Planet environmental partner!

Search was the first human services organization to be included in the 1% environmental network. This was an important addition to the 1% network for many reasons. Human services agencies, like Search, support the basic needs of people, such as providing healthy living conditions and promoting a high quality of life. These agencies play an essential role in executing a sustainable vision for the future that cares for each person on it. Without inclusion and accessibility, there cannot be sustainability. Environments cannot be sustained if they do not include every person.

As climate change continues to pose a major threat, with 2023 as the warmest year yet on record, human services agencies will play an increasingly important role in continuing to protect and provide for vulnerable persons globally. Climate change will impact people with disabilities disproportionately compared to the general population, as they are often excluded from the narrative around building sustainable infrastructure and environmental education is not catered towards them.

People with disabilities are more likely to face challenges with self-evacuating in the event of a natural disaster and face increased disruption of their support networks after the natural disaster has occurred. For example, if public transportation is not running due to the disaster, not everyone can drive a car to evacuate the area. This is just one example of many that demonstrate how important disability inclusion is when considering sustainable infrastructure and planning.

As the pandemic brought greater attention to neurodiversity, and as people continue to advocate for all abilities being included in conversations, more organizations are including people with disabilities in their climate planning. A paper by the Harvard Law School Project on Disability states that people with disabilities must be included in climate planning, policies and responses. Harvard researcher and professor of law, Michael Ashley Stein, shared that “People with disabilities are problem solvers because we must adjust our daily existence to navigate a world that has not been designed with us in mind. They have knowledge of the experience of disability and the challenge of adapting to climate change. A key takeaway is the importance of recognizing and acknowledging this capacity, so that persons with disabilities and their representative organizations can share disability knowledge, including Indigenous knowledge, because people understand their own lives better than others.” Read more in the full article here.

Search believes that the inclusion of people with disabilities is crucial to creating a planet that truly cares for every person on it. It is important to recognize the intersection between inclusion and sustainability. As we continue to face the pressing issue of climate change, Search remains committed to advocating for the needs of the people with disabilities everywhere. Their insight is invaluable in building a sustainable future. Search for Adventure plays an essential role in environmental education and in creating places that are accessible for people of all abilities.

We are so grateful for Toad&Co. and 1% for the Planet’s recognition of inclusion as an environmental issue and we are thrilled to honor them at this year’s Trailblazers event. Learn more about the event here.

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