Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Creating Opportunities

Dominic was so excited for today!  He and his sixth-grade classmates were going to a movie at a movie theater! What's really cool is that he will be able to order his own "snacks."  I asked him what he was going to eat.  He told me, "popcorn and pop!"  Wow, what an incredible opportunity for Dominic's class, don't you think?  When I was in sixth grade, the special education students were kept so separate from the rest of the school that we rarely saw them, much less have any interaction with them. The administration at Dominic's school goes above and beyond to make sure that he and his classmates always feel "included." Back in October, I got this e-mail from Dominic's teacher:

"I printed out 100 sign up forms for peer-to-peer this year and I got a call from the front office this morning telling me we ran out and I needed to print out more :)"

As if that wasn't cool enough, in November, I got this e-mail:

"I just got an e-mail from one of the 6th grade tech teachers, one of his groups is creating a PSA about choosing kind, focusing on Autism Awareness. The students were wondering if they could have Dominic participate in their video. It would be during his exploratory 4th hour.  I just wanted to see if him being in a video would be okay with you before scheduling anything!"

I was able to get a preview of the "script" the kids wrote. It was pretty darn awesome. I was incredibly impressed by their insight and understanding. Earlier this year, I became program director of a disability ministry. I am responsible for implementing and creating programs. Back at our picnic in July, we had a group of special needs adults that came after the food was gone and things were winding down. I instantly felt a "connection" to this group because they were just so happy to be there! They came to our bowling event in October and the gal that brought them told me, "thanks again for all of these amazing opportunities."

Dominic has been receiving music therapy for several years and I knew I wanted others to participate, so our ministry had our first music event in September.

It was so well received, I have planned another event for January!! We have had ecumenical worship services and at the beginning of November, we had our fourth special needs Mass - we had almost 50 people attending. We had three individuals with special needs doing the readings and Dominic was able to be an altar server! I am currently working with Dominic's private speech therapist on an instructional video so anyone who wants to be an altar server can!

I have many other programs in the "works."  In a few weeks, our ministry will be having a holiday event. Included will be a special needs Mass. I have gotten to know an awesome couple who have  a daughter with Down Syndrome. She has gone through all the preparation to receive her First Holy Communion. Her parents want her to make her First Holy Communion during the Mass. I feel honored and blessed that we have "created" this opportunity for their daughter. It will be a special day for sure! I can't wait!

1 comment:

  1. That is great that kids (and adults too) with special needs really can live life to the fullest now. They really can do anything they want if they get the right accomodations!


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