Sunday, February 01, 2009
Making new friends at the Joni and Friends, "Through the roof" conference, 2009 (post # 400!)
Last weekend, Kathi and I attended the Joni and Friends, "Through the roof" conference in Pasadena, CA. As usual, the conference was wonderful. There were probably about 200 people in attendance. But these are not just "people." These are folks who all have a heart for people with disabilities and disability ministry, so it is a rarified group.
Keynote speakers were great. Joni was wonderful as was the President of JAF, Doug Mazza. Kathi and I each did a break out session in the new NACSPED (National Assn. of Christians in Special Ed.) track which I think were well received. I also had the chance to lead a discussion group of special educators that was fun and informative.
But for me, one of the real highlights of the conference, was meeting Arlyn and Will Kantz. These folks are involved in two very innovative projects.
The first is Bethel Fellowship Church. It is a church being designed from the bottom up to be inclusive of people with autism. The ideas behind its design are very innovative much of them based upon their experiences with their own son with autism. Bethel Fellowship is an "experiment" that the Christian church should be watching. Arlyn blogs about their thoughts at http://bethelfellowship.blogspot.com It is truly exciting what they are up to.
The second is a curriculum for teaching language among other things that is called Precision Songs. The website is, http://precisionsongs.com The curriculum revolves around teaching children simple songs that they learn to sing. Then, critical words and phrases are removed such that they continue to sing, however, the person singing on the CD does not sing those portions. Ultimately, the person on the CD just states questions and the children just respond with an answer. It is very clever. From the little I have seen of the curriculum, I would recommend it. I hope to actually do some research on the curriculum with autistic children in the future. I will let you all know what I find.
But God bless the Arlyn and Will. God is using them. Follow the development of the church and their lessons learned at their weblog, and give the curriculum a try!