Church hosts VBS for special needs children

Published 10:09 am Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Faith Presbyterian Church will provide special needs children with a unique opportunity this summer.

The church will host its vacation Bible school every morning from June 6 to 10 for all children in the community, including special needs children.

Faith Presbyterian Church special needs coordinator Staci Anding said the church has a special needs ministry comprised of speech therapists, physical therapists and church families with special needs children.

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“We have a set number of members on our team, made up of all ages,” Anding said.

“We decide how many special needs attendees we can accept to our vacation Bible school program every year based on the number of volunteers we can get within the church.”

Each child accepted is paired with a buddy — a church volunteer — who guides them through each activity, Anding said. The church works to accommodate the vacation Bible school schedule to each special needs child it accepts into the program, she said.

“Each child has different needs,” Anding said. “Some of the children can be integrated with their peers and some cannot. The church has a special needs room for those children to go to when they cannot tolerate the activities other children can.”

This year the church opened up four special needs children spots in its vacation Bible school program and have already filled all of them, Anding said.

“One day we hope to have the manpower to accept more than four children,” Anding said. “We are limited on the number we can accommodate right now because our resources are used in the regular VBS sections as well.”

When a parent contacts Faith Presbyterian about its special needs VBS, Anding said she meets with them to determine how the church can best serve that child.

“We have a session with the parents to find out the needs of their children,” Anding said. “This allows us to prepare and decide when to alter the VBS schedule to fit that particular child.”

All children who attend vacation Bible school at the church rotate through an arts and crafts session, story time, a Bible lesson and activity in their classroom, recreational time and snack time, Anding said.

“The goal for most parents with special needs children is to allow their children to be alongside their peers,” Anding said. “When we talk to the families, they may say rec time is not something the child will want to do. We then know, when rec time comes around the child’s buddy needs to pull them out and go to the special needs room. The goal, however, is to have them go through VBS with their peers.”

Faith Presbyterian Church currently has two families with special needs children, Anding said, which is where the special needs ministry gets a lot of its information on how to handle certain situations.

“We have gotten information on etiquette guidelines, terminology and how to handle situations from Mission to North America and several other special needs ministries,” Anding said.

The church began its special needs ministry after realizing how many families could not attend because the church didn’t have the facilities or personnel to help take care of special needs children.

“Part of our outreach is to get those families to participate in the church,” Anding said. “We have created a buddy system within our church, where volunteers help watch the special needs children, while those parents attend a service. Our main goal is for not only those children to grow in Christ, but the entire family to feel love and support, and grow as well.”