Some young people who attend my church were recently at a teen leadership conference. One of their parents overheard the teachers talking about another attendee who has autism and that his small team was having trouble connecting with him. This dad piped up and said, “I know some kids who would be happy to include him on their team.”
The father explained that these teens had years of experience volunteering at Joni and Friends Family Retreats and other local events, as well as being buddies for our church disability ministry. The teachers were on board, so the switch was made, to the absolute delight of the kids. When the teachers were going to send the young man to his new team’s room, the JAF-trained kids suggested that they be the ones to go to his room so that he wouldn’t have to change his environment.
The conference went well from there on out, and our kids transferred their years of training and experience to successfully show God’s love in a real world scenario. We couldn’t be prouder of them, and I know God is smiling at their efforts to include all.