During the summer months, many parishes host Vacation Bible School as a fun and interactive way for children to experience their faith. VBS usually consists of a variety of interactive activities, music, prayer, games and community building that bring faith to life. VBS engages students in multi-sensory learning which really lends itself to the possibility of providing opportunities for children with disabilities to meaningfully participate with some minor adaptations. The first step in providing intentional accommodations for participants is to know the details of the individual needs of the students. Consider adapting your registration form to gather the necessary information during the registration process and come up with an action plan based on the individual needs of the participant. Be sure to communicate this information with your team so that everyone knows the specifics of their role. Provide a sensory-friendly space for students who are overwhelmed by noise, crowds, dancing, etc. Consider the physical abilities of participants while planning games, and make adjustments to the lesson plans for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Remember, when you meet the learning needs of one student, you unintentionally meet the needs of others as well!
Did you know that one in five adults suffer from mental illness? That number may seem high, but like many other disabilities, mental illness is referred to as an “invisible disorder.” Often people suffer silently due to the stigma that is affiliated with a mental health diagnosis. Mental illness is not often addressed by the Catholic Church, but we are called by Jesus to recognize those who are suffering in our midst and to accompany them on their journey. May is Mental Health Awareness Month and this provides us with a wonderful opportunity to shed some light on mental illness and to work towards eliminating stigma that prevents people from feeling fully welcomed into their faith communities. To promote awareness in your parish, please consider using these resources:
- Mental Health Awareness Bulletin Insert
- Prayers of the Faithful for Mental Health Awareness | NCPD – National Catholic Partnership on Disability
- Pastoral Response to Persons with Mental Illness |NCPD- National Catholic Partnership on Disability
Check out our MENTAL ILLNESS RESOURCE PAGE and follow the Office for Persons with Disabilities on SOCIAL MEDIA and share some of our upcoming posts to raise awareness here in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. The first step towards eliminating stigma is to provide opportunities for awareness and understanding. Let us work together to help our Church become a place of accompaniment for those who suffer silently from mental illness.
April is Autism Acceptance Month! This month, the Office for Persons with Disabilities invites you to work to raise awareness and acceptance of persons with autism in your parishes. Autism is often referred to as an “invisible disorder,” so there are often not any outward indicators that a person is autistic. Neurodiversity is something to celebrate. Persons who are autistic have a unique perspective through which they see the world and have a great deal to contribute to our church. Your parish can help to spread this message by promoting awareness this month in a variety of ways. Check out our Autism RESOURCE PAGE that will be growing over the course of the month. The NCPD has also created some excellent resources that could be incorporated into bulletins or liturgy including a BULLETIN ANNOUNCEMENT, PRAYERS OF THE FAITHFUL, a printable BULLETIN INSERT, and an AWARENESS PRAYER. Finally, if you have active parish Social Media pages, follow the OFFICE FOR PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES and share some of our upcoming posts to highlight persons with developmental disabilities in our very own Archdiocese of Cincinnati! The first step towards creating a culture of inclusion and meaningful participation in our Church is to provide opportunities for awareness and acceptance. Let us all work together to establish a sense of belonging in our parishes, Archdiocese, and universal Church.
March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month which is a wonderful opportunity for parishes to recognize the importance of persons with developmental disabilities in parish life. In his message at the 2019 International Day for Persons with Disabilities, Pope Francis stated: “We are called to recognize in every person with disabilities, even complex and serious disabilities, a unique contribution to the common good through their original life stories. …and to recognize them as persons of equal dignity, as brothers and sisters in humanity.” Parishes can help to spread this message by promoting awareness this month in a variety of ways. The National Council on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities of the NCPD has created a RESOURCE PAGE that includes some sample bulletin announcements and prayers of the faithful that could easily be incorporated into your parish bulletin and at Mass. There is also a printable BULLETIN INSERT with wonderful facts and information about developmental disabilities. Finally, if you have active parish Social Media pages, follow the OFFICE FOR PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES and share some of our upcoming posts to highlight persons with developmental disabilities in our very own Archdiocese of Cincinnati! The first step towards creating a culture of inclusion and meaningful participation in our Church is to provide opportunities for awareness and understanding. Let us all work together to establish a sense of belonging in our parishes, Archdiocese, and universal Church.