At St Paul’s we want to make sure that everyone is able to join in and feel included. Alison Moore explains the vision behind our ministry for children with additional needs
In September last year we started our Additional Needs Ministry, which is now known as ‘Inclusion’ at St Paul’s. It is something that I had been thinking about for a while feeling that our church family should be a place where everyone is included and where there is a place for everyone. Week after week I had observed one very special little girl sitting in the service with her mum and dad while all the other children went out because the children’s groups at that stage could not accommodate her needs. She enjoyed the service, particularly the singing, but during the sermon her mum would sometimes need to take her out because she thought she might be disturbing others, even though I am sure our congregation really didn’t feel that was needed. Sometimes this would be because she was upset, but often it might be because she was happy and enjoying laughing. I really felt that for her and other children with additional needs we needed to provide a solution.
Help to participate
We felt it was important that children with additional needs are able to take part in the regular kids’ groups but with extra support to meet their specific needs. What this means in practice is that each Sunday a volunteer will accompany a child to their group and help them to participate as fully as possible and, as appropriate, provide alternative activities. We are currently supporting three children and we hope that this number will increase as others hear and learn more about what we can offer. I have a wonderful team of volunteers who also feel passionate about helping children who need a little extra help to fully participate in the kids groups. The team is made up of volunteers who have experience in this area and others like me, who have a heart for this ministry but less knowledge and are growing in experience all the time.
‘A volunteer will accompany a child to their group and help them to participate as fully as possible’
Involving all the senses
Recently four of our team were able to attend a New Wine Training Day for supporting children with additional needs. It was an amazing day where we learnt a lot practically and were able to chat and share with others serving in other churches in this way. I think for me the highlight of the day was the workshop on sensory story-telling and how through involving all our senses as well as listening we can engage children so much more and help them meet with God. This is something that would be fantastic for all children and not just children with additional needs. It is something that we would like to incorporate at St Paul’s on a Sunday when we can.
A growing ministry
If you have a child with additional needs who is not currently being supported then do get in touch because we would be delighted to provide that extra support to help your child. Also let me know if this ministry is something that you feel passionate about. We currently have a wonderful team of volunteers but as this ministry grows we would like to have enough volunteers to support as many children as needed.
To find out more phone Alison on 07889 503649 or email firstname.lastname@example.org