Getting Intentional About Inclusive Church Education
May 4, 2010
Updated December 12, 2017
2 comments 34 views
At the Disability Concerns Canada Spring Conference in 2010, featured speaker, Barbara Newman, did a wonderful job helping those in attendance with great ideas for including people with disabilities in the full life of the church. Newman's presentations revolved around the conference theme, "Helping People Include People."
Her presentation revolved around the metaphor of a puzzle piece that was half green and half pink. Although many people think about people with disabilities as having needs and non-disabled people having gifts to offer, Newman said that nondisabled and disabled each have gifts and needs. Each of us has green areas of our lives – things that we are good at – and pink areas – things we are not good at. Like the various members of body, so the puzzle pieces fit together because we all need each other.
As an example, Newman talked about her son, Jon, and his friend, Ryan, who has Down syndrome. Some people have said to Newman, “How wonderful that Jon is willing to be a friend to Ryan." She said that she likes to respond to that comment, “Yes! And how wonderful that Ryan is willing to be a friend to Jon.” As one example of Ryan’s friendship to Jon, she said that she felt afraid when Jon got his driver’s license and drove off for the first time by himself with the car. Then she remembered that Ryan has been praying for Jon every day since Jon was in first grade. She relaxed about Jon and the car, knowing that Jon was covered in prayer.
Newman’s special education training and experience allowed her to give especially rich, practical ideas for the inclusion of people with intellectual and learning disabilities. Much of what she talked about can be found in the Church Services division section of the CLC Network website. Here are a few examples:
Besides checking out the CLC website, Newman’s books, Helping Kids Include Kids with Disabilities, and, Autism and Your Church, are good tools to help people involved in church education find ways for all children in church to participate in meaningful ways.
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Thanks for sharing, Mark. I love Barb's idea of using ribbons for praising God!
Yes, I think of it as a visual variation on the multiple instruments that the psalmist talks about in Psalm 150. My own congregation, Crosswinds Church, has a collection of satin solid-color pennants mounted on dowels for people to use in praising God. Many of the children (and some adults) love to wave them during songs.
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