Accessibility in the Church
Kids Ministry is meant to be a welcoming place for every child to learn and grow in the Lord but is it a place where all children can do that? Making your Kids Ministry accessible is more than just designating parking spaces or adding a cozy corner. It’s about listening and learning from the individuals and families affected by disability, respecting needs, being non-judgemental, recognizing prejudices and fears, and understanding that attitudes are often the biggest barrier to inclusion. Accessibility is the practice of making information, activities, and/or environments sensible, meaningful, and usable for as many people as possible. In this workshop Andrea will guide participants through The 5 Stages, The Journey of Disability Attitudes, which is a tool that helps participants understand how people with disabilities are often viewed, why this might be so, how God sees children with disabilities and that there is a learning journey as you seek to include children with disabilities into kids ministry programs and life of the church.
Practical Ministry With Families Affected by Disability
In this workshop Andrea will provide practical ministry tools and answer some key questions regarding ministry with rather than just to families affected by disability.
Topics discussed include:
- How leaders can support and include children with disabilities and their families in the life of the Church
- Creative ways to include people with disabilities in church programs
- How to interact with people with various disabilities
- Common traits/impairments which require extra support
- The influence of language
- Myths about autism
- Key practical strategies for handling challenging situations
- Practical ways to accommodate
- Tips for teaching and including
- Frequently asked questions:
- What if I can’t understand someone’s speech?
- How do I teach God’s Word?
- What if someone is violent?
- Some Do’s and Don’ts
Andrea Foster is a speaker, writer, disability advocate/educator, wife and mom. Married to Kirk for 24 years and parents to four young adults: Lily, Russell, Annie and Audrey. Their youngest are 19yo identical twins who were diagnosed with Tuberous Sclerosis Complex at age five months. This resulted in further diagnoses of epilepsy, autism, intellectual disability and other medical complexities. Andrea and Kirk have experienced grief at the loss of dreams and face daily challenges as they continue to care for their twin daughters and transition into the role of parent-caregivers. They live in Brampton where Kirk is a professional Firefighter and have been part of the Bramalea Alliance Church family for over 21 years.
Andrea holds her Master of Science Education (Disability Studies), Bachelor of Theology and Early Childhood Education Diploma (Hons). She shares her experiences through speaking and writing with articles published in: Testimony Magazine (PAOC), Alliance.ca magazine, ChristianWeek online magazine and in Women Together online magazine. She has also been a guest writer for Key Ministry and guest blogger for the Huffington Post. She has been interviewed on 100 Huntley St. and The Drew Marshall Show. Andrea guest lectures at Bible Colleges and Seminaries and dreams of making Disability Theology/Studies part of all such curriculums.
Andrea longs to help families not only cope, but also thrive and truly know the joy of the Lord, in spite of disability, disappointment and ongoing seasons of trial. She believes all people belong in the Church but understands that not all leaders are prepared for disability ministry. Her passion is to equip everyone for better interaction so the Body of Christ will become a place of belonging for everyone, with all of it’s indispensable parts included just as God wanted them to be (1 Cor. 12). One of her favourite things is encouraging families affected by disability to, press into Jesus so they can press on in this life. You can learn more at: www.andreafoster.ca