Posted on May 15, 2018 by Sahar Wahbeh | 1 Comment


Today, with the United Nations, we celebrate the International Day of Family. A day dedicated to the social protection of vulnerable families so that they may enjoy full inclusion in mainstream society. These are the migrant families, ethnic minorities and families that include those with disabilities. 

We have work to do as a society and sometimes it just feels too overwhelming to think we could actually make a difference but as parents raising the next generation of thought leaders - we can! We must lead by example and teach our kids while they are young about the importance of inclusion, equality, empathy, and advocacy. 

Stephanie Hamilton

To help us navigate this sometimes vague subject, we reached out to our dear friend Stephanie Hamilton. (pictured above) She is a photographer, mindfulness trainer and huge advocate of inclusion. She is also the founder of www.iammostextrodinary.com which is completely dedicated to educating, advocating, and mainstreaming beauty in difference. It is an inspiring body of work. Basically, she embodies what Dumyé would call Karmic Goodness®.

Below Stephanie shares her personal story and gives us 5 suggestions on how we can foster an attitude of tolerance and inclusion in our children.

By Stephanie Hamilton

Inclusion is a topic that is near and dear to my heart for many reasons. Having a daughter with Down Syndrome might be the obvious answer as to why this topic fuels me to bring awareness when and where I can. Yes, that might be the obvious answer, but having recently had time to do some soul searching, I discovered that this might just be a story I’ve been telling myself since the day she was born. Being a mother to 3 beautiful girls, I can honestly say that inclusion runs far deeper than the world of children with obvious differences, because THAT is exactly the point. 

Aren’t we all different?

One could argue that yes, while we’re all different, there are some children who stand to be more vulnerable due to their different needs and abilities. I think this is certainly a valid point, because in my experience, I have definitely had to fight harder for the same rights my other daughters unknowingly have with ease.  I would certainly support this argument, but I would also add that perhaps there are many instances that my other daughters have experienced inequality, or have not felt accepted.

Is it possible that we’ve accepted that not everyone is going to like us, and that not every situation will be deemed as fair? I think this is a fair statement and is really a part of life and the human experience. We can’t control our world around us, but as parents, we do have the ability to shape the way our kids view the outside world.

What is the difference between acceptance, tolerance and inclusion? How can we raise our kids to foster these attitudes without compromising boundaries and their own sense of self? 


5 ways to foster an attitude of tolerance and inclusion in children

  1. Expose them to different cultures, walks of life, and experiences through travel. Travelling is one of the best ways to teach your children about “differences” in other human beings.  To experience different foods, styles of living, ways of dress, and language is to bring an awareness of understanding that there are many different ways to live in this world.
  2. Watch your language. Language is so important when it comes to fostering inclusion and tolerance. Recently the UAE changed the word disabled or handicapped to “People of Determination”. This was a glorious day for many of us who can see the potential in our children who may seem “flawed” to others. Ban the use of words like “retard” or “spaz”.  These words may seem funny or harmless, but words are powerful weapons, so make sure you encourage vocabulary that uplifts and helps to reflect value in others rather than bringing them down.
  3. Be inclusive! Get out of your comfort zone and invite that quiet Mum who you’ve seen a hundred times at school pickup for coffee.  Sometimes reaching out to others brings the greatest gifts even when it might seem inconvenient or “too hard”.  When your children see you engaging with all walks of life and going outside your usual social circle, they will be encouraged to do the same.
  4. Focus on similarities rather than differences. When children are taught to connect through their passions, differences become unimportant.  Take for instance a group of young children with a passion for playing football.  Ethnicity, race, religion, sex, and intellectual abilities won’t matter once the whistle blows.
  5. Teach children the difference between boundaries and tolerance. Just because my daughter has Down Syndrome, I certainly don’t expect other children to let her get away with whatever she wants.  If she is misbehaving it is important that the same rules apply to her, but that it may take more effort to get her to a place of understanding those rules and boundaries.  This is probably the hardest concept to teach, and to be honest, from our experience, most children already get this with a bit of guidance. When Ruby is at school and goes beyond her boundaries, her friends know to bring this to the attention of an adult, yet they are tolerant in realizing that she may take longer to get it right. 


For more insights and inspiration, click here to follow Stephanie and the I Am Most Extraordinary photography project on Instagram.



    1 Response


    May 16, 2018

    This is a beautiful and profound article. It really speaks to me as a mother of a child with his own differences. It is lovely to hear this message that we are more alike than we are different and I love Stephanie’s advice for raising children with this awareness!

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