Last weekend we had our first “Additional Needs Alliance” Forum.
It was a great success! Just over 50 people of like mind together in one room.
The speakers were: Mark Arnold from Urban Saints. Me (Kay Morgan-Gurr) from Children Worldwide, and Paul Nash of the Paediatric Chaplaincy Network. There were others who came to help facilitate different areas of discussion.
The forum fed into the Children and Family Ministry conference (Hand in Hand), with the Friday night plenary being about “A Vision for Inclusivity” and an additional needs work seminar stream running throughout the weekend. This was also a great success.
What is the 'Additional Needs Alliance'?
The Alliance isn’t another organisation out to ‘get at’ churches. It’s primary aim isn’t campaigning but rather getting alongside people and churches to raise awareness in the area of working with children who have additional needs and disabilities. Ok, so some might see what we do as campaigning…..but that's just a side effect of our passion!
What we are aiming to do is start a conversation about how we care for children and families who are affected by the huge breadth of additional needs and disabilities out there. To raise a vision beyond just ‘catering’ for these children to creating a place where they and their families feel they belong and are wanted. We want churches to say yes to families who are so used to hearing ‘no’ when they ask if a church can cope with their child’s needs.
One of the things we have looked at is the vision for the spiritual walk of these children, their faith journey with God. We know they can have relationship with God - it may challenge how we view and understand faith, but we know that God understands and the power of the Holy Spirit works beyond our understanding. We believe the faith journey of these children should be a fundamental part of our vision.
1 in 5 children in this country having some form of additional need or disability, and it is obvious this number is not reflected in our churches.
There are small pockets of excellent work out there, usually stemming from people already in our church communities having children with additional needs. It’s a great place to start - but we can also see a much bigger missional picture.
Many people, when looking at this area often only see those children with ADHD, Autistic Spectrum disorders and dyspraxia, and although these are important, those with other conditions and disabilities are often forgotten. We want to raise awareness in ALL areas of additional needs and disabilities and make sure our churches are open and accessible. A safe place where they can belong.
What can you do?
You can join the conversation and spread it - Gossip this stuff around - Kids with additional needs and disabilities matter!
We have a facebook group a twitter account (@A_N_All) and an email address (On the flier to stop spammers getting hold of it!)
We are planning more forums - join the facebook group or contact us for more dates.
Link to a copy of the flier below here
*This is a Children Matter! initiative. Currently run by an Urban Saints and Children Worldwide partnership