Faces of the Movement…Katie Wetherbee

Katie Wetherbee is a former special education teacher who now serves as Director of Education for Key Ministry. In this role, Katie works with pastors and volunteers to help them understand and include families affected by disabilities. She also enjoys writing about parenting, teaching and ministry for a variety of publications. Most of all, Katie loves being a wife and mom, and is proud to be known as the mom who makes the best chocolate chip cookies.

Here’s a guest blog from Katie previewing her talk for this year’s Inclusion Fusion…

It has become a national public health crisis keeping over 160,000 children home from school every day.*

Adults need to be aware of the signs and symptoms of this issue:

  • Sudden changes in appetite
  • Gastrointestinal distress
  • Chronic headaches
  • Loss of eye contact
  • Poor posture
  • Decreased communication with parents and peers
  • Increase of nervous habits such as tics or nail biting

It’s not autism. It’s not a virus or an environmental issue. So what is this insidious threat?

Bullying.

And unfortunately, bullying is not only happening in schools, but in neighborhoods and extracurricular activities as well. Sadly, children with special needs are often targeted by bullies at a much higher rate than their typically developing peers. This causes a great impediment to their learning and their opportunities to make and keep friends. Students report that often, adults don’t know about the instances of bullying. In addition, peers join in or ignore the bullying as it occurs.

Research tells us that bullying is largely about social power…attaining it and keeping it. While we might think of a bully as a large, tough caricature, children who engage in this behavior are very likely to look just like anyone else. Many times, these individuals are in the middle of the social power structure and are trying to gain more recognition from those they perceive as having more control. To accomplish this, children who bully others exclude, start rumors or tease their targets. When others join in or laugh, the “bully” has been recognized as a leader and therefore, has power. This cycle can be difficult to break, both for the child who is bullied AND for the child who is bullying others.

As we look forward to Inclusion Fusion, we are going to tackle this issue of bullying…and more importantly, focus on bullying prevention. Pastors, KidMin leaders and volunteers need to know how to proactively prevent bullying, because sadly, this kind of behavior can—and does—occur in churches, too. We hope you will join us to learn some practical strategies that can change the social culture of Sunday mornings. And, as we focus on kindness and community in our programs, wouldn’t it be wonderful if what we accomplish at church could change the culture of schools and neighborhoods as well?

*National Education Association data

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TWO DAYS TO GO! Join Katie and over 30 leaders from children’s, family, youth and disability ministry serving as faculty for Inclusion Fusion, Key Ministry’s second annual Special Needs Ministry Web Summit. Inclusion Fusion is made available FREE OF CHARGE to pastors, church staff, volunteers and families everywhere from November 12th-16th, 2012. For an up to date list of speakers, topics, links to speaker blogs and a link for free registration, click here.

About Dr. G

Dr. Stephen Grcevich serves as President and Founder of Key Ministry, a non-profit organization providing free training, consultation, resources and support to help churches serve families of children with disabilities. Dr. Grcevich is a graduate of Northeastern Ohio Medical University (NEOMED), trained in General Psychiatry at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation and in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at University Hospitals of Cleveland/Case Western Reserve University. He is a faculty member in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at two medical schools, leads a group practice in suburban Cleveland (Family Center by the Falls), and continues to be involved in research evaluating the safety and effectiveness of medications prescribed to children for ADHD, anxiety and depression. He is a past recipient of the Exemplary Psychiatrist Award from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Dr. Grcevich was recently recognized by Sharecare as one of the top ten online influencers in children’s mental health. His blog for Key Ministry, www.church4everychild.org was ranked fourth among the top 100 children's ministry blogs in 2015 by Ministry to Children.
This entry was posted in Controversies, Hidden Disabilities, Inclusion, Inclusion Fusion, Key Ministry, Resources, Strategies and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Faces of the Movement…Katie Wetherbee

  1. Pingback: Faces of the Movement…Katie Wetherbee | Church Ministry Center

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