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Prom

As Director of Faith Inclusion Network, an organization that promotes inclusion and integration, I want to preface this story by addressing the important issue of “segregated” versus “integrated” events for people with disabilities or special needs.   I recognize that the Tim Tebow, “Night to Shine” Prom is promoted specifically as an event for people with special needs, therefore it is somewhat segregated by design.  The registered guests-teens with disabilities- are treated as “VIP’s”, getting special treatment, a buddy to hang out with and lots of attention. Some people do not want their loved ones with disabilities to be treated differently or “special”, and in many ways I agree with that.  But the Tim Tebow Foundation’s mission for this event is to “celebrate people with special needs”, https://www.timtebowfoundation.org/index.php/night-to-shine/ one that FIN shares as part of our vision to accept, include and celebrate all persons affected by disability in our faith communities. We …

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A Call to Encouragement

Last Thursday evening over sixty people from our community gathered at Second Presbyterian Church, Norfolk to support FIN and learn more about the current work and vision of our growing organization. Beginning our 10th year, this is an important and exciting time in the development of our small non-profit, working towards our dream of making the congregations of Hampton Roads the most inclusive and welcoming in the country-envisioning a world where all people affected by disability are accepted, included and celebrated in our faith communities.  Many, many thanks to members of Second Pres., volunteers and supporters who made the reception a wonderful first time event.
In the wake of this successful gathering however, I began to feel extremely overwhelmed.  There is so much work to be done; challenges of time, finances and the daunting task of helping our community in general understand what FIN is about seem almost insurmountable.  I needed …

A (Tough) Day in the Life

 This summer, I witnessed my beautiful 18 year old daughter completely lose control, her anxiety escalating to the point she was laying on the sidewalk outside her day support building, banging the back of her head on the cement.  I was helpless, not strong enough to keep her from hurting herself, too distraught to pray.
When she was finally inside our van, the violent episode continued.  I had no other option than to drive directly to the ER.  I prayed the whole way there that she would not get the car door open or hurt me while I was driving and cause an accident.
Even through the whole distressing episode, I realized we had amazing support. Samantha’s dad came as fast as he could from work, her caregiver came to the hospital for back up support. The staff at the hospital were both professional and compassionate.  I did not try to park …

FIN-LOGO

We are ready, how about you?

“What more can I do?”
This is the question I dared to pray way back in January 2008. I wanted to know how to respond to the overwhelming compassion I felt for other families going through the same experience we were-families struggling to include their child with a disability into the life of their faith community. Congregations needed to be educated, individuals and families needed to know there was help…and hope.
Nine years later and countless conversations, conferences, events and educational opportunities later, my passion for working in the faith and disability field is well developed and I have a new question on my prayer list;
“What more can WE do?
Because this is about community… our community. As members of this community, we need to decide what we believe to be acceptable and in the best interest of all persons, regardless of their perceived abilities or disabilities.
Should people with disabilities be able to access …

Dianna Swenson

A Place at the Table by Dianna Swenson

To know Dianna is truly to love her.  I am pretty sure anyone else who knows Dianna Swenson would agree.  She is a talented musician, passionate advocate, person of strong faith and mom to two sweet children, one of which has a disability with complex medical issues.  When she expressed an interest in writing down some thoughts on faith inclusion, I asked for her to send me whatever she had to share.  
Thank you for your story Dianna and we hope you keep writing, singing, praying and advocating! -K. Jackson
Yesterday I was in another church, an enormous church, a gorgeous church. A church that I was told was welcoming to all abilities, and they are, the people are, but the building isn’t.
In America, we have what is called the ADA, Americans with disabilities act and it requires by law for buildings to be accessible, and for a certain amount of …

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Courage

Katie’s daughter June Ivy
I have a friend who is, like myself, the mom of a child who has autism. Katie is funny, loving, a bit younger than me and I realized today, much braver than I.
Katie Moorman and I have known each other for many years. We met through the group Living in Holland, a Christian support group for moms raising children with special needs. Although 10 years plus difference in age, with children at very different stages, we have developed a close relationship through a shared interest in writing, strong faith and an of course, being moms to children on the spectrum.
My involvement with both FIN and Living in Holland has given me the opportunity to walk alongside many other parents raising children with disabilities. There may be nothing I have done in ministry more important than listening and praying with these moms and dads, people who share a …