Tuesday, 6 November 2012

"Thankyou Jesus You're My Friend" Amazing Stories Series (#1)

Around 20 years ago at a  large event, I was charged with looking after a 9 year old boy who had Down’s syndrome - he was what we affectionately call a “runner”. He would have given Houdini a run for his money in the various ways he could find to try and escape! This was in the days before children’s groups had specialists on their teams, so it was rare to be given a role like this. I was given the role because the leader of the team knew of my training and vision.  

Because I was also a musician I had to sing/play in the band. This meant I had to leave my young charge by the OHP (That dates this story!!) with another team member, where he would help with the song words.
Looking from the outside, it appeared he had no interaction with the spiritual side of the programme at all, and very little with the rest of the programme. It was hard work!

We used a lot of makaton signs as actions for songs, but this young lad would not sing or sign for the whole week….. That was, until the last day. On the last morning, with a big grin on his face he signed “Thankyou Jesus, You’re my friend” along with the song we were singing.

For all his appearance of not engaging, he had taken a profound message on board.

There were other positive things that came out of this: That particular team decided to make additional needs carers a permanent position on their teams. I also wrote to the head of the event - it was a very ‘frank’ letter about the need for looking at better additional needs provision within the children and youth programmes. I didn’t expect to get a reply - but I did. And year on year the additional needs provision grew and improved to the excellent work they do today. 

I’m pretty sure that other’s wrote letters about this too, so the change wan’t just down to me…… but I am blessed by the fact that I am now the disability and additional needs advisor for that same festival. 

This is just one story of one child who has made a difference. He doesn't know it, and I doubt his family do either.

Over the next few days I hope to post a few more encouraging stories about working with children who have additional needs. I have so many to choose from.....!

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