This weekend, Katie Wetherbee will be doing two, two hour “Half Track” presentations at the Group KidMin (Children’s Ministry) Conference in Columbus, Ohio. Her presentations this weekend will focus upon how common disabilities affect faith development and cause obstacles for church attendance, ways to communicate effectively with parents of children with special needs, easy-to-implement strategies for welcoming and teaching kids with special needs, including behavior management, classroom culture and curriculum modifications.
Katie’s presentations this weekend will also mark the end of a nearly eight-year long formal relationship with Key Ministry. Katie began her service to Key Ministry in 2005 as one of our first two Board members from outside the church where our ministry originated. She did a fabulous job putting together our first CD-ROM toolkit, and is responsible for many of the fabulous resources currently available for free on the Key Ministry website. She was indispensable in the development of Inclusion Fusion.
Katie has received the opportunity to work on a very special project with our good friend Jolene Philo. Katie and Jolene have signed a book contract with Kragel Publications to author Every Child Welcome: A Menu of Strategies for Including Kids with Special Needs at Church. Jolene has a great description of the upcoming book on her blog. Much of the practical advice Katie has shared over the years with church staff and volunteers in Key Ministry-sponsored trainings will be available to a wider audience through the book she’s co-authoring with Jolene.
To honor Katie and her contributions to the ministry over the past eight years, we thought we’d share her presentation from last year’s Inclusion Fusion Web Summit… Sticks and Stones, Clicks and Phones: Solutions for Preventing Bullying at Church.
Here’s a description of Katie’s talk…
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?
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.
In her presentation for Inclusion Fusion 2012, Katie tackled the issue of bullying…and focused 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. In this presentation, she shared some practical strategies that can change the social culture of Sunday mornings.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if what we accomplish at church could change the culture of schools and neighborhoods as well?
On behalf of our Board and staff…Thanks Katie for all you did to advance the mission of Key Ministry! We look forward to, and will be praying for your future ministry adventures!
Our Key Ministry website is a resource through which church staff, volunteers, family members and caregivers can register for upcoming training events, request access to our library of downloadable ministry resources, contact our staff with training or consultation requests, access the content of our official ministry blog, or contribute their time, talent and treasure to the expansion of God’s Kingdom through the work of Key Ministry. In addition to our downloadable resources, those who register for our resource kit can view any presentation from our Inclusion Fusion Disability Ministry Web Summits “on-demand”. All of these resources are made available free of charge. Check out our website today!