Diversity is an understanding that each individual is unique, and assumes recognition that our individual differences are an integral part of each and every one of us. From before birth, our experiences wire our brains – forming templates about how we should view the world and our places in that world, i.e., our reality (Ghosh Ippen, 2012).
The process of honoring diversity begins as we learn to value the experiences of others by suspending judgment and sitting with the tension of acknowledging others’ behaviors as both meaningful and necessary (Stroud, 2010). Honoring diversity is an ongoing process of continuous self-awareness, and provides both motivator and vehicle for re-considerations about ourselves, others, and our work with others (Lewis, 2014).
Placing relationship development at the very core of child-centered, family-focused professional practice, the presenters will encourage participants to consider essential steps toward more culturally informed practice. Four guiding principles of diversity wellness will be introduced and discussed (Ghosh Ippen, Norona, & Thomas, 2012). Each principle will focus on understanding the uniqueness of our wholeness and how our understanding of our uniqueness can help us to see the same in others. Through the process of self-reflection and guided discussion, we will look closely at how our own unique view of ourselves, of others, and of the differences between us, i.e., our own diversity “package,” gets constructed, and how we carry that package with us, how it continues to evolve as we ourselves evolve, and how we unconsciously apply our unique and ever evolving “package” whenever we attempt to engage and search for ways to form connections with others. The reality of inequality, discrimination and intersectionality in our lives and the world in which we live and work will be considered through group discussions of two case vignettes.
Our goal is to promote the broadening our individual and collective cultural lenses in order to strengthen interventionists’ skills in providing culturally rich support to vulnerable families with infants, toddlers, and young children who are just beginning their experiential journeys in our very diverse society.