This Saturday, a small group of my fellow Bridges Ministry team members and I had the awesome pleasure of attending the 2017 Accessibility Summit held on the beautiful campus of the McLean Bible Church in Vienna, VA. This venue offered valuable insight for families, caregivers, faith-based organizations, service providers, teachers and other professionals connected to the special needs community. We were representing our church, Reid Temple AME, in Glen Dale, MD, and the guest speakers, workshops and exhibitors opened my eyes to the awesome work being done in the area of accessible awareness, but also revealed the possibilities for next steps stemming from this work.
Our own work with providing an inviting, interactive and inclusive classroom environment for our church members who have children with disabilities is successful because many of our teachers and assistants work in the field, or have a child, parent with a disability. Some of our ministry teachers/assistants are even PWD’s and offer more sound advice and insight to increase awareness and improve our program.
The powerful story from Saundra Adams, one of the guest speakers, was delivered from a place that only the mother of a slain child could tell. I remember her daughter, Cherica, because of the tragedy surrounding her death as it made headline news 17 years ago. Cherica was murdered by former Carolina Panthers NFL football player Rae Carruth while pregnant with their child. Saundra’s story of being thrust unexpectedly in a new world of raising her grandchild Chancellor Lee, who was born with cerebral palsy as a result of his mother’s untimely and traumatic death, is inspiring to anyone navigating accessible living in today’s society. One her remarks was, “Although I was preparing for a trip to Italy, I got sidetracked and sent to Holland. The country here is beautiful and even though sometimes I still think of Italy, this place is more rewarding because of my treasure, my Chancellor.”
We know that at any time we can all become or suddenly be thrust into a role as caregivers, family members, or friends of a person with a disability. Learning and adjusting to the accessible landscape does not have to be rocky. As my fellow Bridges Ministry member Brother Ray Smith, who is visually challenged and creator of Sight & Vision Ministries, stated, “The power lies in building a cohesive platform that fully addresses all needs of persons with disabilities, meeting each on their own levels.”
There were over 40 workshops offered through the 24-25th time sessions. My group was only able to attend the following and each was trans-formative in providing information we could readily use in our classrooms to increase accessibility. Please click on the links for more information.
Effective Teaching Techniques for Bible Study – Jill Miller, Adaptive Curriculum Writer, Bethesda seeJesus
Strategies for Multi-Tasking Moms – Ginny Mooney, Co-Founder, 99 Balloons
Yes You Can! Fitness for Those with Special Needs – Tony D’Orazio, Jacob’s Ladder Special Needs Fitness, Strongsville, OH
Benefits of Animal Therapy- Michelle Robinson, Summit Therapy Animal Services, LLC
Overall, this summit spoke to uplifting and advocating the best of accessible awareness in a faith –based environment, but leaves an opportunity to discover and include more workshops and exhibits geared towards the blind community.
Looking forward to next year’s event, this is a summit I would attend year after year!