RISE (Respect, Include, Support, Embrace) and SHINE (Supporting Hearts in New Experiences)
First Christian Church, Midland, TX
At RISE (Respect, Include, Support, Embrace) and SHINE (Supporting Hearts in New Experiences)'s congregation, First Christian Church (FCC) in Midland, TX, 20% of the youth have special needs. These high functioning youth have been included successfully into the Sunday School and Youth Programs. FCC has created a faith community of care where children with special needs and their families are accepted, included, and supported in the life of the church. For low-functioning children, who have severe disabilities such as autism and cerebral palsy which make inclusion difficult, FCC has created a Special Needs Sunday School during the 11:00 worship hour. Grant funds will be used to upgrade the Special Needs Sunday School with sensory materials, specialized toys and equipment that can be used to improve the fine and gross motor skills. In addition, a curriculum that can be adapted to different levels will be developed.
When persons with special needs graduate from high school or a special school, they are no longer considered a youth and cannot participate in youth programs. In church and the community, there are very few resources or places for young adults with disabilities. Teenagers with disabilities also lack friends and social opportunities. Currently, an FCC member takes her own 18-year-old daughter with Down Syndrome and 3 other girls with special needs, who know each other from SHARE and therapy, to get manicures and on other social outings. FCC's transitional program will build on this concept and provide social outings for persons with special needs (ages 10-25). These outings will teach social skills, independence, and inclusion in the community."
Mission Category: At-Risk Children and Youth
Catalyst Grant: US $2,000