Attitudes, Creating Community and Rising Above

February 16, 2008 Kyron No Comments

rising above Attitudes, Creating Community and Rising AboveThis is an article I was going to feature in the Sunday Paper but decided it really was something I wanted to single out and give extra attention to.

Community is something so many families with children of special needs children fail to have in their lives. Too often things others take for granted we never or so rarely it seems like never) get to do. I think it’s why I read about this church’s ministry in Tennessee and wanted to make sure it got some extra positive attention.

This church has a ministry program for families of special needs children. Rising Above Ministries runs a monthly Saturday service to allow people to participate in a non-denominational church service that is completely built to accommodate anyone’s special needs. The service includes both an adult service as well as children’s lessons and kids church.

The minister and co-founder of this program Jeff Davidson says “We want to make sure the public knows this is a safe understanding environment with the structure and volunteers to assist every special needs family who can join us for the hour.”

It’s funny. Before I was Katherine’s mother, I would have said of all places church should be the one place a family with a special needs child should be able to go without any trepidation. Churches teach helping those in need, those less fortunate, the sick and infirm. Certainly the elderly lady using her walker was always welcomed and assisted with kindness and caring. Certainly the noisy toddlers were tolerated if not adored for their less than perfect behavior. Why wouldn’t anyone with a desire to participate be welcomed with open arms? I was wrong.

Let me clarify that – I was W-R-O-N-G. Let me be clear however I am not saying that every church is intolerant. I am saying that never before was I more shocked as for what passed as Christian behavior. I saw behavior that was worse than anything I had encountered in my local Wal-Mart. And I’m not talking about Katherine’s. Before I go off completely on a tangent that isn’t what this post is about let me just say that I understand so completely the need for a program as being offered by Jeff Davidson and his Rising Above Ministries.
 Attitudes, Creating Community and Rising Above
When you read the article (and I truly hope you do) you’ll see that this is only one of the programs run by the ministry at this church. Dances and Easter Egg Hunts are just some of the events they have planned for the near future. They truly have developed an outstanding outreach program for the special needs community, giving children and their families opportunities to have community events that other families would consider normal everyday activities.

I hope that your community has access to events like these. Community is such an important thing for us all. It is so easy to become isolated when you are the parent of one of our special children. Community doesn’t have to be church but it should be somewhere you and your entire family are accepted, welcomed and embraced as an important member of the group. If you find yourself without community in your life, seek it out. If you are blessed enough to have found community in your life that is accepting as this model is of those with needs that just are different than others, make sure to share it with those who may be in need of community in their lives. Maybe, just maybe, Rising Above will spark some ideas as it has for me for ways I can contribute in my own community to assure there are ways for our special kids to have a sense of community as well.

Photograph courtesy of Rising Above Ministries

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