Monday, July 26, 2010

Special Needs FAQ: Shadows -- Can My Child Have One, and Who Are They?

Next in our series of FAQ's about Special Needs are some questions regarding "shadows" or "buddies."  We currently have about 8 children that require a "shadow" during our weekend programming.  These range from children with autism or developmental delays, to preschool-age children with physical disabilities who need someone to specifically ensure their safety, and even a 2-year old with diabetes that needs a trained medical professional to check his blood sugar level.  Most of these children stay for two services, allowing their parents the opportunity to worship and serve.  Accordingly, we currently need at least 12-15 volunteers to regularly serve as Special Needs shadows.

Unfortunately, at this point we do not have an abundance of trained shadows on "stand-by" to be ready for the occasional visitor that has special needs.  Therefore, it may be difficult for us to provide a shadow on short-notice, although on more than one occasion, God has raised up someone just in the the nick of time for an unexpected guest.  If a parent expects to need a shadow for his or her child, they should contact the church office (864-284-0122) or email us at with as much notice as possible, and we will do our best to provide a shadow.  We may not have an immediate and permanent solution, but for families that want to be a part of our church body (or at least explore that possibility), we desire to come alongside them and assist them.  We put a high value in a long-term relationship. 

Who are these shadows?  We have folks with a range of backgrounds and experiences, but they are all equipped and trained by leaders with expertise (more on that next week), and they all are passionate about ministering to children, especially children with special needs.  We do not compromise in this area at all.

Some of our shadows are teenagers who just love being with younger children.  Some are adults that come with experience (professional or volunteer) working with children or adults with special needs.  We have some nurses and physical therapists, who primarily work with the children in our programming that have physical disabilities or illnesses.  Since we are ministering to a variety of special needs, we try very hard to match up the needs of the child with the passion and skills of the volunteer.  The right fit, coupled with training, makes all the difference.

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