“Why does that girl walk like that? She looks weird.”
“I couldn’t understand what he was saying, he talks funny.”
“I saw her in a wheelchair and I just didn’t know what to say. Can we even be friends?”
Although painful to hear, these are sometimes the true, unfiltered responses of kids who encounter disability for the first time. Listening to what children say when they meet another child with a disability can present a great opportunity for adults to encourage their growth in understanding. In these teaching moments, a child can learn what disability is, what God thinks about disability, and ways to be a friend to someone who seems different.
Through the Joni and Friends Kids’ Corner website, parents, teachers, and ministry leaders can access a wealth of free resources to help facilitate unique conversations about being a good friend to other children with disabilities. Below are a few great places to start!
- Friendship Adventure Videos: Laugh and learn with Joni, Bobo, and Naomi as they talk about different ways to be a better friend to people with disabilities. Children gain practical wisdom on how to interact with someone in a wheelchair (like “Smile! Don’t Stare.”), how to encourage a friend with diabetes to eat the right foods, and even learn a little sign language.
- Disability Awareness and other Disability Related Activities: Take the fear out of disability by talking openly with the children in your life. Help them use “people first” language, teach them about Down syndrome, and encourage them to identify other children who may feel lonely. Using fun activities can be a wonderful way to teach children these concepts as well as many others.
- Ways to Encourage Others: Get creative with kids and give them opportunities to brighten someone’s day by engaging in some of the activities listed here.
- Doing a Report: Are the children in your life interested in knowing more about Joni Eareckson Tada? Perhaps they would like to do a report on her for class. The information found here can answer questions about Joni and her life in a wheelchair.
- 5 Minutes of Fun: Help explain God’s heart for kids with disabilities all over the world by doing the activities found on this page. Children can color, create, and learn about the various outreaches in other countries.
If you are wanting even more insight on how to help children better understand disability, be sure to browse the Products and Resources section for insightful books and materials to enlarge your child’s compassion and care for people with disabilities. If you need further support, you can always write to us at email@example.com. And remember… pray for the children in your life, ask the Lord to give them a greater heart for kids with disabilities, and watch to see what God does!
Crystal Keating serves with the Response Department at Joni and Friends, providing encouragement and practical resources for people affected by disability. She has advocated for true life in Christ to women with unwanted pregnancies, homeless families, and neglected children since 2000. She is also a graduate student, studying marriage and family counseling.