A special night for special needs

Published 9:16 am Thursday, April 5, 2018

Jessamine Christian hosts event tailored to special needs individuals

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Jessamine Christian Church recently hosted a special needs event which left many in the community not only appreciative, but thankful the church saw the need and organized a night of dancing, singing and meal sharing.

On March 23, the church opened its doors after Kay Burns approached Barbara Rendel, the preacher’s wife, about undertaking an outreach ministry organizing a group of volunteers to host an event where special needs individuals can come together to watch the Disney movie “Trolls” and share a meal donated by a local McDonald’s.

“Our church community includes several families with special needs children and adults,” Burns said. “We noticed that these families need support and encouragement. It is hard for these families to attend events with large crowds that don’t accommodate their needs. We recognized that our church didn’t currently offer specific support for these families. When we started talking about a special needs ministry, we found that many people in our church have experience working with the special needs community. They also had a heart for serving this community (and) a group of church members started brainstorming outreach ideas for special needs families.”

Eleven special needs families in Jessamine County attended, with a total of 70 people filling the church  for the night in addition to those who helped by volunteering and event participant family members. Burns said the church had movie-themed decorations and several activity tables for those that did not want to watch the movie. Food was served with a special area for parents to gather and talk as well.

“After talking to the families that attended our event, I see a huge need for this outreach,” Burns said. “There aren’t many similar opportunities in our community. The families love to connect with other caregivers in similar situations to talk and share. Also, they enjoyed having a place where their special needs child/adult received love and attention with no judgment.”

Burns said this first event was an opportunity for the church to show love for the special needs families in the community. The event was planned with the audience in mind, and the congregation strived to meet the needs of all those in attendance.

“One thing about having a child with disabilities is the loneliness my child experiences because she’s different from other children,” said Michael Martin, who attended the event. “Specifically with Abby being unable to interact with other children because she is not able to speak and not a lot of children know sign language.”

Martin said as a parent his challenge is trying to make sure she is involved with other children and activities that give her real-world experiences. Not only does this give children with special needs interaction so they are not left alone, but Martin said it is beneficial to other children to see and interact with those who have special needs in the community as well.

“I believe it is truly beneficial to other children without special needs to see that God did not make everyone the same and they should experience what it is like around those who are different,” Martin said. “Abby and I had a blast and would encourage (the community) and the church to try and offer this service (again). It will only grow and provides an invaluable lesson to the other members of (a) church and youth group.”

Burns said the church plans to host similar events in the future.

“Our goal is to host an event every quarter,” Burns said. “We learned quite a bit from our first event, and we plan to make some modifications to better serve our families. We will also promote our events to a larger audience. Our dream is to have larger events with different activities and eventually provide respite care for the parents. We are currently trying to plan a benefit concert to raise money for our ministry. We are also starting to plan a summer event which will take place outdoors.”

For more information, or to become involved with a future event contact jccspecialneedsministry@gmail.com to subscribe or follow Jessamine Christian Church’s Facebook page at Facebook.com/JESSAMINECC, or call Jessamine Christian Church at 859-887-8757.