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Columbia Missourian

FROM READERS: Broadway Christian Church offers summer program for children with disabilities

By CHERI GHAN/MISSOURIAN READER
June 3, 2012 | 6:00 a.m. CDT
Bradley Grosz goes fishing for his Bible verse with student teachers Kelsey Whittet and Jessica English in an All God's Children class.

Cheri Ghan is a volunteer with Broadway Christian Church's All God's Children program, which the Missourian wrote about in August 2011.

Vacation Bible School has long been a favorite summer tradition for children in Columbia. Many local churches offer programs for kids of all ages. But for the first time this summer, children with disabilities will have their very own VBS program as Broadway Christian Church expands its popular All God’s Children adapted Sunday school curriculum to meet the summer need.

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Broadway will adapt its regular 2012 VBS program for kids with special needs. The Operation Overboard – All God’s Children program is open to children entering kindergarten through fifth grade. It runs from 8:30 a.m. to 12 noon on Monday, July 30, through Thursday, Aug. 2. Hours for the special version of Operation Overboard can be customized to meet individual children’s needs. The program is open to all Columbia children, and registration is required by Saturday, June 30. While the program is free, a $10 donation is suggested.

The program will explore God’s underwater universe and what it means to live a life of deep faith. Each day, the children will discover biblical characters through music, drama, science and play. Also each day, a special storyteller will share a lesson presented at a level appropriate for the group.

According to Teresa Wiegand, All God’s Children coordinator, there is a need for the adapted program.

“Since we launched All God’s Children last September, we have grown to about 12 children regularly participating and enjoying the program,” Wiegand said. “We wanted to be able to offer these youngsters the same summer fun typically developing kids look forward to. We will be flexible with our activities to ensure each child is able to participate in and learn from our program. We wanted to share this with all children, so we want to stress that families do not need to be a member of Broadway for their child to participate.”

Wiegand says the ratio of teachers and helpers to children with special needs will be smaller than regular VBS settings, approximately one teacher or helper to no more than three children. The special VBS can accommodate a wide variety of special needs, including autism, learning disabilities, cognitive deficits, behavioral disabilities, speech and language impairments, sensory deficits such as vision or hearing and orthopaedic disorders.

Broadway’s All God’s Children Sunday school program meets simultaneously with the church’s 11:15 a.m. Sunday contemporary worship service. Children benefit through a planned, structured Sunday school program that suits their age and developmental levels. The adapted curriculum is integrated, multimodal and thematic, providing best practice for young children with disabilities. The VBS offering will follow the same adapted format as the Sunday program.

The All God’s Children program was started in reaction to a need expressed by local parents who had either quit attending church or been unable to find a church home where their child with special needs had access to adapted programs.

“Families with children with various disabilities have always faced special life challenges,” says Tim Carson, senior minister of Broadway Christian Church. “What we are beginning to recognize are the missing spiritual components and we in religious communities are finally responding.”

To learn more about Operation Overboard – All God’s Children, please contact Wiegand at wiegandteresa@yahoo.com.

This story is part of a section of the Missourian called From Readers, which is dedicated to your voices and your stories. We hope you'll consider sharing. Here's how. Supervising editor is Joy Mayer.