Wednesday

9:00-10:00am

Main Session and Worship

Speaker: Vivian Shudde

Ministry Track

Family Track

Talk Description

10:15am – 11:25am: Breakout #1

Hot Topic (15 min talk)

Saturated: True Disability Ministry

Speaker: Rachel Ritter

Ministry Track

Talk Description

A true disability ministry isnít just a room or a buddy program. It is a church wide program that involves every area and ministry within your church. And the more saturated the disability ministry is throughout your church, the greater the blessings are for your church members. Come find out what a saturated church looks like and practical ways to begin heading in that direction.

Hot Topic (15 min talk)

Your Response Matters

Speaker: Gina Schmittdiel

Ministry Track

Talk Description

How to respond when kids ask tough or embarrassing questions about their peers with disabilities.

Hot Topic (15 min talk)

Potty Talk! Why Accessibility in the Bathroom Matters

Speaker: Ryan Wolfe

Ministry Track

Talk Description

The ADA mandates that all public spaces provide an infant-sized changing table in public restrooms. That is great, but what happens when a child with disabilities that requires personal care outgrows an infant-sized changing table? 98% of the world is no longer accessible. If you aren`t afraid of a little potty talk you can make a difference! Come hear about the new Ability Ministry book “The Tale of the Shrinking Toilets” and practical ways you can be a change agent.

Hot Topic (15 min talk)

No Place Too Small: Disability Ministry in a Small Church

Speaker: Joanna French

Ministry Track

Talk Description

What small churches lack in size they make up for in community. Everything has its own strengths and weaknesses, but we do not have to let our size keep us from making a big difference in the disability community. If we can reimagine ministry we will see our churches grow in new ways because we will be effectively modeling the body of Christ.

Hot Topic (15 min talk)

The Next Chapter: Preparing Siblings to Become Primary Caretakers for their Sibling with a Disability

Speaker: Michael Crawford

Family Track

Talk Description

Often, after the passing of parents, siblings become the primary caretakers of an individual with a disability. Many siblings, however, are not prepared for this responsibility. This talk will provide practical tools and insights to equip siblings to enter this season of life when it comes.

Hot Topic (15 min talk)

Walking on Faith Wearing Shoes of Gratitude

Speaker: Valerie Corpe

Family Track

Talk Description

I share how my baby, with less than a 13% survival rate, overcame insurmountable odds. Some miracles happened instantly while others took years. I was grateful for each moment. I share how to have joy in the moments in between.

Hot Topic (15 min talk)

Bullying and Suicide in Autism Spectrum Disorder

Speaker: Rev. Dr. Stephanie Holmes

Family Track

Talk Description
Hot Topic (15 min talk)

Special Needs Adoption – My Journey

Speaker: Sandy Robinson

Family Track

Talk Description

Special needs adoption is sometimes a conscious choice and sometimes we go into an adoption unaware of a child`s special needs. Either way, this is a unique and challenging journey for many families, including my own. I`d like to share 3 important lessons God taught me on this journey; adoption is hard because it’s not the way it’s supposed to be; our ways/plans are not God’s ways (Isaiah 55:8-9); managing our expectations is key.

Panel Discussion: Single Parents

Speaker: Various

Ministry Track

Family Track

Talk Description

Special needs adoption is sometimes a conscious choice and sometimes we go into an adoption unaware of a child`s special needs. Either way, this is a unique and challenging journey for many families, including my own. I`d like to share 3 important lessons God taught me on this journey; adoption is hard because it’s not the way it’s supposed to be; our ways/plans are not God’s ways (Isaiah 55:8-9); managing our expectations is key.

Marketing Your Ministry: Being an advocate with your church staff, the entire church body, and your community

Speaker: Beth Golik, Sandra Peoples

Ministry Track

Talk Description

Like the deacons in Acts 6, we are called to serve as advocates between special needs families and the church body as we work toward a culture shift so people with disabilities are represented in every aspect of church life. In this breakout session, Beth and Sandra will share how to work with other staff members to avoid the “silo ministry” trap, how to educate the entire church on being welcoming and accommodating, and how to reach the community through outreach events and social media posts.

Volunteers: The Lifeblood of Your Ministry

Speaker: Stephen “Doc” Hunsley, M.D.

Ministry Track

Talk Description

Volunteers are the lifeblood of every ministry! Volunteer recruitment is always one of the biggest concerns for any ministry leader, no matter what size your ministry is. In this workshop, you will learn how to recruit, retain, and train your volunteers to last for the long haul in any sized church! I will also share with you the four most important letters in the alphabet for volunteer recruitment and how they will help you recruit volunteers at over a 90% success rate with longevity!

Advocacy for the Special Needs Parent: Everyday ways to advocate for your child in everyday situation

Speaker: Sara Clime, Amy Brown, Carrie Holt

Family Track

Talk Description

When you hear advocate, it can feel daunting. How do everyday people advocate for their children? Advocacy is found in everyday moments. In this workshop, participants woll be given a list of resources and ideas on how they can advocate for their child with special needs in everyday situations be it at school, family functions, church, or even the grocery store. One of the most productive moments of our time together will be a discussion where we can learn how to help our children self-advocate.

Helping Families Plan for their Loved One`s Long-Term Needs.

Speaker: Scott Adams

Family Track

Talk Description

We will be discussing Special Needs Trusts, what are they and how you can use them. We discuss guardianship and alternatives, employment and residential options and helping to build a team of support for our loved one when we are gone.

Overcoming the Hopeless Complex- Autism & Mental Health

Speaker: Ron Sandison

Family Track

Talk Description

80% of people with autism experience severe depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues. During COVID-19 many of these individuals due to social isolation and a change in routine developed a hopeless complex. A hopeless complex hinders growth and independence, creates fear of the future, and can cause regression of previous learned skills. Educators, professionals, and parents will learn practical ways to create a hope complex by developing a healthy self-efficiency mindset. Sandison shares his own journey with autism and depression and how he overcome a hopeless complex by developing self-determination. A hope complex empowered Ron to have a career in the mental health field, a family, and a national platform in the autism community. ; ; 1. Learn the cause and effects of a hopeless complex; 2. Understand the motivational killers that lead to depression and anxiety; 3. Discovery practical ways to develop a hope complex ; 4. Learn to create a healthy self-efficiency to overcome the hopeless complex; 5. Understand the positive fruits of a hope complex ;

1:30pm-2:15pm: Breakout #2

Inclusion – it`s more than just a buddy.

Speaker: Sandy Robinson

Ministry Track

Talk Description

Buddies are a great way to include our kids with special needs into our typical classroom settings. But they’re not the only way and sometimes they’re not the best way. Together we’ll explore other options for welcoming and including kids affected by disability into our Sunday morning classrooms. Options we will explore are part-time inclusion (based on a child’s strengths), inclusion with supports (curriculum adaptations, classroom volunteer training, classroom modifications), reverse inclusion classrooms, out-of-the-box discipleship opportunities

Caring for Special Needs Families: Disability Ministry as Whole Family Ministry

Speaker: Sandra Peoples

Ministry Track

Talk Description

How can churches better understand the challenges and blessings of being a special needs parent? By examining the 5 phases of special needs parenting and what parents need from their church families in each phase! Join Sandra Peoples in this breakout for ministry leaders who want to serve the entire special needs family on their caregiving journey!

Starting and Equipping Multi-site Special Needs Ministry

Speaker: Jimmy Hill, Lisa Hill

Ministry Track

Talk Description

We would like to present strategies on how to start and maintain a multi-site Special Needs ministry : the need, room setup, curriculum, and volunteer management. Including uniformity and distribution of lessons. Volunteer scheduling, recruitment, and preparation will also be discussed.

Inclusive Fitness Program as a Ministry Tool

Speaker: Jason Morrison

Ministry Track

Talk Description

Discussion around what is needed to create an inclusive fitness program and how such a program can be utilized for ministries and organizations to reach those affected by disability. Presentation will also discuss positive and long term effects of regular exercise as it relates to mental health, life skills, as well as potential leadership and employment opportunities.

Preparing for Grief

Speaker: Cassie Kraus

Family Track

Talk Description

After loosing my husband this past year I have found that I wish I had better prepared how to both speak to my child about loss as well as how to deal with it myself as a parent. This talk would go over some of the things this past year has taught me, how I could have prepared for it better, as well as how to deal with the aftermath.

What are These Feelings? Understanding Grief and Special Needs Parenting

Speaker: Carrie Holt

Family Track

Talk Description

Grief is not just reserved for those who have lost someone to death, but for many types of loss. As parents of children with additional needs, we experience various losses throughout the lifetime of our child. The emotions that surface are not just identified as sadness, but anger, fear, doubt, and weariness.; ; In our 45+ minutes together, we will define grief and its stages as experienced by special needs parents, discuss some common misconceptions, and eight practices or tools for processing the ongoing grief that characterizes special needs parenting.;

Tips and Resources in Raising a Child with a Diverse Ability

Speaker: Malinda Barnett

Family Track

Talk Description

I will be talking about things my parents did in helping to raise me to be a healthy and happy adult. Topics addressed will be related to my health, my education and career, and my self esteem. I will also talk about what my parents did to help ensure a positive relationship between myself and my siblings. I will also talk about a few resources I am directly knowledgeable about – my employer eitas, Spina Bifida-Kansas City, and Missouri Family to Family.

Be Angry…And Train Your Kids

Speaker: Peggy Ployhar

Family Track

Talk Description

Parental anger and the character training process happen to be the two largest struggles of any parent, but rarely are the development of the two undertakings ever considered to be interrelated. After many struggles with parenting anger, which stemmed from anger issues she carried with her from her upbringing, Peggy found herself seeking scriptural answers to her outbursts. Peggy Ployhar, in this talk titled “Be Angry…And Train Your Kids”, shares what God has taught her about how the anger-provoking instances that child training brings are tools meant to enrich the character training process. You will walk away from this talk comforted regarding any past struggles regarding parenting anger and equipped for the character training process that still lays ahead for you and your children.

Living Blind in an Eye-Centered World-my story; tips and visual differences

Speaker: Judy Redlich

Ministry Track

Family Track

Talk Description

I’ll share some of my story which will include lots of creative ideas on how Mom and others helped me pioneer living without sight. Then we’ll describe and let folks experience most common sight losses in the U.S. Lastly we’ll offer tips for those loosing their sight in your congregations and how best to include them.

2:30pm-3:40pm Breakout #3

Panel Discussion: Gender Identity

Speaker: Various

Ministry Track

Family Track

Talk Description

Building Trauma Informed Kids and Student Ministry

Speaker: Kim Botto

Ministry Track

Talk Description

Millions of American children have experienced trauma. Because of their past experiences, traditional responses and discipline simply arenít effective. Join us as we dig into why behind disruptive behavior while learning practical and proven methods to respond to kids with challenging behavior in healthier and more effective ways. In a trauma informed ministry, volunteers are empowered, parents feel welcomed and understood, and kids are better able to hear and understand the love of Jesus.

Tools to Strengthen Your Marriage While Caregiving

Speaker: Kristin Evans, Todd Evans

Family Track

Talk Description

The stress of caregiving often strains marriages. It is vital that couples caring for a loved one with disabilities develop advanced relationship skills and coping strategies. In this workshop, the Evans will guide couples in building and applying five of the most important evidence-based tools needed to grow a resilient marriage.

Where do we find families? 25 Community Outreach Ideas

Speaker: Lisa Mattheiss

Ministry Track

Talk Description

Special needs ministry is exhausting. Caregiving is exhausting. Most special needs ministry personnel are caregiving on both personal and professional and/or ministry levels. How do you care for yourself in the midst of caring for others? Is it possible to balance care for self and others without completely leaving ministry? Where and how do you draw boundaries? Insights will be offered by Lisa Mattheiss into the potential hazards of disability ministry and the difference between burnout and compassion fatigue, the signs of burnout and compassion fatigue, and how they both connect. Lisa will reflect on her own personal experience with exhaustion and burnout as a caregiver involved in ministry leadership for almost 30 years, and then close with practical tips for building resiliency from the book Resilient Ministry by Bob Burns, Donald C. Guthrie, and Tasha D. Chapman. While this is geared for special needs ministry leadership, the practical concepts presented will be applicable to anyone in ministry leadership.

Attachment, Trauma, & Healing With Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI)

Speaker: Kathryn Meinhardt

Family Track

Talk Description

Gain a foundational understanding of the effects of trauma on the attachment relationship with; vulnerable children. Children who have experienced harm or neglect have significantly increased risk for; attachment challenges resulting in confusing behaviors. Learn research-based insights, specific; skills, and; how to disarm fear responses driven by attachment disruptions.

Complex Medical situations – From a mountain to a mole hill, tracking, organizing to Advocate for the best outcomes

Speaker: Peggy Johnson

Family Track

Talk Description

Empowering Individuals with Autism for Life’s Transitions & Employment

Speaker: Ron Sandison

Family Track

Talk Description

Currently in the U.S 80% of people on the spectrum are unemployed or underemployed only 3% are gainfully employed. Professionals and parents will learn the eight keys to empowering individuals with autism for life’s transitions and equipping them for skills for a career. Sandison teaches practical ways to transform specials interest into employment opportunities. Developing skills for employment and understanding the workplace culture and norms. Ron also shares his own struggles with employment and how he was able to obtain gainful employment and the knowledge he acquired from interviewing over a fifty young adults on the spectrum and professionals in the autism community. ; ; 1. Preparing young adults for life`s transitions; 2. Creating a transition plan with goals for employment ; 3. Developing skills for transition and employment; 4. Three essential skills for gainful employment & independence ; 5. Building a support network ;

Taking the Mystery out of Working with Parents; Stories, Solutions, & Action Steps ;

Speaker: Tom Meekins, Julie Meekins, Amy Meekins

Ministry Track

Talk Description

Ministry staff and volunteers – we appreciate you! Thank you for stepping into a role that isnít always clearly defined. We come to you as two parents of a daughter with a disability and we also represent many other parents of children with disabilities who we have had the privilege of serving through the years. As a bonus, our daughter with disabilities will also share from her perspective. Our desire in this breakout is to take away some of the mystery that comes with your job and to ease some of the struggles. We will share real-life stories and solutions and hopefully leave you with action steps.

The Unexpected Journey of Gods Plan

Speaker: Jeanetta Bryant

Family Track

Talk Description

Parents often have a difficult time navigating a new diagnosis because they don’t always understand that they themselves are grieving a future that was changed. Helping these families see that these feelings are to be expected is paramount to them finding optimal success for their child.

4:00-5:00pm

Main Session and Worship

Speaker: Dr. Erik Carter

Ministry Track

Family Track

Talk Description

Parents often have a difficult time navigating a new diagnosis because they don’t always understand that they themselves are grieving a future that was changed. Helping these families see that these feelings are to be expected is paramount to them finding optimal success for their child.

Thursday

9:00am-10:00am

Main Session and Worship

Speaker: Loretta Claiborne

Ministry Track

Family Track

Talk Description

Parents often have a difficult time navigating a new diagnosis because they don’t always understand that they themselves are grieving a future that was changed. Helping these families see that these feelings are to be expected is paramount to them finding optimal success for their child.

10:15am-11:25am: Breakout #4

Hot Topic (15 min talk)

Beauty Belongs to Everyone

Speaker: Ryan Wolfe

Ministry Track

Talk Description

The world believe that disability is ugly, shameful, and should be disposed of if at all possible. This negative narrative has existed from the beginning of time. What if I told you there was a way to overturn this narrative and help people to see people with disabilities as God sees them? There is! Come hear about a new FREE resource called “Disability is Beautiful” that celebrates the beauty that belongs to everyone.

Hot Topic (15 min talk)

Equipping and Empowering Individuals With Disabilities To Serve

Speaker: Rachel Ritter

Ministry Track

Talk Description

Being a full-inclusive church means more than just welcoming those with disabilities into the church. We must equip and empower individuals with disabilities to find their calling within the church. Many of us know the reward that comes from serving others; all individuals should be able to experience this joy. Learn how to connect individuals with disabilities into serving positions in order to become a fully functioning body of Christ.

Hot Topic (15 min talk)

Outreach on a low (or no) Budget

Speaker: James Goben

Ministry Track

Talk Description

Many ministries have minimal budgets. Outreach often takes a backseat to the needs of Sunday morning. Reaching the Special Needs community is possible when there is little to no money. We will look at several ways to show the Special Needs community your church cares on a budget.

Hot Topic (15 min talk)

On Your Feet! The Importance of Supportive Footwear for Movement

Speaker: Scott Quaife

Family Track

Talk Description

Our feet are the foundations of our bodies, but it’s often under appreciated how critical it is to properly support them. Whether it be for being physically active, or working and living independently, finding proper footwear can prevent pain and injuries throughout the body. This presentation covers the importance of this issue and how to best support your feet!

Hot Topic (15 min talk)

The Power of Community

Speaker: John Felageller

Family Track

Talk Description

In this session, John will share a personal account of how finding and building a community around him helped to support him as a special needs father, and navigate the various personal challenges related to that experience. He will share the ways in which he intentionally developed relationships that in turn became a support structure for him, and the practical ways a parent can help build those for themselves within their own churches, neighborhoods and among their friends. ;

Hot Topic (15 min talk)

Finding Your Prayer Grove

Speaker: Lisa Jamieson

Family Track

Talk Description

Caregiving parents become experts at advocating for their children yet may struggle in connecting with the Almighty Advocate, Jesus. Prayer is both a personal and community opportunity. Learn how to expand your toolbox for engaging the nearness and power of God, privately and within the family of believers.

Hot Topic (15 min talk)

My Amazing Journey with Faith and Autism

Speaker: Ron Sandison

Family Track

Talk Description

Autism & the Family System! It’s a family thing.

Speaker: Stephanie Holmes, Dan Holmes

Family Track

Talk Description

Autism in the family means autism can challenge the family system. This workshop will discuss marriage and family issues and siblings. They will also discuss autism in marriage when a spouse is on the spectrum.

Panel Discussion: Senior Pastors

Speaker: Various

Ministry Track

Family Track

Talk Description

Tools for Your Toolbox

Speaker: Elizabeth Barnett

Ministry Track

Talk Description

Get ideas on how to modify and adapt an environment to serve individuals with disabilities by walking through great resources, sensory ideas and ministry models including respite care. Learn tips to assist you no matter your ministry size or level of experience.

Doing ministry with ADHD – or with someone who has ADHD

Speaker: Dr. Steve Grcevich

Ministry Track

Talk Description

Get ideas on how to modify and adapt an environment to serve individuals with disabilities by walking through great resources, sensory ideas and ministry models including respite care. Learn tips to assist you no matter your ministry size or level of experience.

How to maximize your investment in an advocate!

Speaker: Georgia Mueller

Family Track

Talk Description

Whether you need help with an IEP, medical needs or inclusion in the local sports activities, working with an advocate will go much better if you think of them as your Coach. While you may have the desire to solve a specific problem and that you believe that person may hold the key, you are really the one who holds the key to a lifetime of effective advocacy. Even if you do decide to hire a Coach, think of it as an opportunity to invest in Parent Professional Development. We will discuss additional tips and tricks on using a Coach that will further enhance your investment. The more you learn about how that advocate works, the less time and money you will spend having to get negative situations corrected so you can spend more time planning for the future with your whole team. You are also creating a legacy of quality advocacy by being a role model to your child with a disability, the entire family and maybe even your community.

Recognizing and Coping with Special Needs Parenting Guilt

Speaker: Sara Clime, Amy Brown, Carrie Holt

Family Track

Talk Description

With over 30 years of combined experience parenting children with special needs, we’ve experienced all the guilt this special journey generates. Guilt is a common, yet seldom talked about feeling for special needs parents. There is guilt we recognize and guilt we don’t. All guilt threatens our own mental health and relationships – with ourselves, family, friends, and our Father.In our 45+ minutes together, we will discuss some of the common guilts we all feel, where they are originating (it’s not what you think), and why it is vital to address it. Learning how to move past the guilt to a place of acceptance is vital to know authentic connection, foster hope, and nurture true joy.Attention ministry leaders: unless you are a special needs parent, you may not realize the guilt and therefore not understand how to effectively deal with their guilt. You have all the tools you need – your Bible. We’ll give you specific ways to speak into special needs parents’ hearts.

Too Tired to Care: Preventing Exhaustion & Burnout

Speaker: Lisa Mattheiss

Family Track

Talk Description

With over 30 years of combined experience parenting children with special needs, we’ve experienced all the guilt this special journey generates. Guilt is a common, yet seldom talked about feeling for special needs parents. There is guilt we recognize and guilt we don’t. All guilt threatens our own mental health and relationships – with ourselves, family, friends, and our Father.In our 45+ minutes together, we will discuss some of the common guilts we all feel, where they are originating (it’s not what you think), and why it is vital to address it. Learning how to move past the guilt to a place of acceptance is vital to know authentic connection, foster hope, and nurture true joy.Attention ministry leaders: unless you are a special needs parent, you may not realize the guilt and therefore not understand how to effectively deal with their guilt. You have all the tools you need – your Bible. We’ll give you specific ways to speak into special needs parents’ hearts.

1:30-2:15: Breakout #5

Bust out of Boring: Multi-Sensory Teaching Strategies to Use in Your Ministry

Speaker: Bronwyn Murphy

Ministry Track

Talk Description

Not everyone learns in the exact same way. Join us as we discuss and experiment with teaching strategies that aim to engage all students.

Leadership in Disability Ministry

Speaker: Tait Berge

Ministry Track

Talk Description

Leadership is hard, but you can do it! Building on his experiences, Tait helps leaders build their leadership to be more effective in their ministries. He has a degree in leadership and ethics and is excited to share his thoughts and experiences in this area.

It`s Prom Night

Speaker: Cassie Kraus

Ministry Track

Talk Description

How to plan for prom fro theme, to decor, invitations and getting the word out, to partnering with others. This would be an overview of how to plan and effectively and execute a prom for individuals.

Pandemic Proof Curriculum

Speaker: Ryan Wolfe

Ministry Track

Talk Description

It is tough enough to find a Disability Ministry curriculum that works, but add the realities of global pandemic to it and you have a mess on your hands. Ability Ministry can help! Come and see some of our latest curriculum and how easy to use it is even during a pandemic!

Joyful Noise

Speaker: Amanda Fessehazion

Ministry Track

Family Track

Talk Description

Joyful Noise is a worship service for individuals of all ages and abilities where there is no shushing allowed! In this presentation I will break down the details about how to take this amazing service and make it your own at your church or ministry center.

Seen and Heard: Understanding the Unique Challenges Siblings Face

Speaker: Michael Crawford

Family Track

Talk Description

Siblings of individuals with disabilities often face very unique spiritual and emotional challenges including guilt, loneliness and embarrassment. Often, siblings, families and churches, do not know how to address these challenges, or are totally unaware of them. This workshop with provide practical tools, tips and strategies to support siblings as they navigate the ups and downs of having a sibling with a disability.

God is Able

Speaker: Amy Meekins

Family Track

Talk Description

If you have a disability and are looking to be reminded of Godís love for you, your worth, and your value, come join me. If you sometimes get discouraged by the enemyís lies, let me share with you some things I do to get my mind and heart back on track with Godís truth. The fact is, we can trust our Heavenly Father, Beautiful Savior, and Comforter Holy Spirit because God is trustworthy.; If you are the parent of an individual affected by disability, I would love to share some tips that my parents learned and that helped me growing up. I have a message of hope for you, too. Come, letís gather together and explore the goodness of God and talk about what we can put into place as we move forward and step into the wonderful plan that He has for us.;

Employment

Speaker: Hannah Earley

Family Track

Talk Description

Overcoming the Spiritual & Emotional Hurdles of Special Needs Parenting

Speaker: Melanie Gomez

Family Track

Talk Description

Join Melanie as she shares honestly and transparently the five most common emotional and spiritual hurdles for Special Needs parents. In this workshop you’ll receive biblical truths that will become weapons as you fight off despair, discouragement, worry, disappointment and fear. Leave feeling renewed in your faith, and emboldened to live a live of joy, peace, hope, contentment.

2:30 pm – 3:40 pm: Breakout #6

Weekend Buddy Training: Using a Case-Based Scenario Approach

Speaker: Stephen “Doc” Hunsley, M.D., Elizabeth Barnett

Ministry Track

Talk Description

This workshop is geared towards any volunteer who might work with an individual with special needs from birth through adulthood in a ministry setting. You will learn general considerations for individuals with special needs that will allow you to be successful in working with them. We will also give you a toolbox filled with crisis prevention techniques and walk you through several real-life scenarios to help you feel confident and prepared to handle any situation that may arise in a special needs setting. As small groups, you will work through these case-based scenarios to be able to apply everything you learned in the first half of the training. You can easily take this back home and train your volunteers as well.

Panel Discussion: Marriage

Speaker: Various

Ministry Track

Family Track

Talk Description

This workshop is geared towards any volunteer who might work with an individual with special needs from birth through adulthood in a ministry setting. You will learn general considerations for individuals with special needs that will allow you to be successful in working with them. We will also give you a toolbox filled with crisis prevention techniques and walk you through several real-life scenarios to help you feel confident and prepared to handle any situation that may arise in a special needs setting. As small groups, you will work through these case-based scenarios to be able to apply everything you learned in the first half of the training. You can easily take this back home and train your volunteers as well.

Mental Health Inclusion Ministry Made Ridiculously Simple

Speaker: Dr. Steve Grcevich, Catherine Boyle

Ministry Track

Talk Description

Disability ministry leaders are increasingly aware of the struggles and barriers to participation in church life for individuals and families impacted by mental illness. Dr. Grcevich and Catherine Boyle will guide attendees through the steps needed to implement a mental health inclusion strategy across all the ministries of the church. Attendees will receive an updated version of Key Ministry`s mental health ministry planning tool, as well as new checklists applicable to specific areas of ministry. Whether you`re a senior pastor or serve in children`s ministry, student ministry, adult ministry or any other staff position in a church, this workshop will include practical ideas for including persons with common mental health conditions into your area of service.

Found Money – maximizing financial opportunities to support your best life

Speaker: Georgia Mueller

Family Track

Talk Description

Disability ministry leaders are increasingly aware of the struggles and barriers to participation in church life for individuals and families impacted by mental illness. Dr. Grcevich and Catherine Boyle will guide attendees through the steps needed to implement a mental health inclusion strategy across all the ministries of the church. Attendees will receive an updated version of Key Ministry`s mental health ministry planning tool, as well as new checklists applicable to specific areas of ministry. Whether you`re a senior pastor or serve in children`s ministry, student ministry, adult ministry or any other staff position in a church, this workshop will include practical ideas for including persons with common mental health conditions into your area of service.

Life Care Planning; Who is Going to Take Care of my Baby When I am Not Around?

Speaker: P. Glen Smith, ESQ, McGovern ‘Meg’ Bergner, J.D., Melissa Hardin, CECC

Family Track

Talk Description

Learn the Five Elements of a Life Care Plan for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and the Step-by-Step Planning Process that will assure the best care and community for your child: Health Care Advocacy, Housing, Financing, Legal and Family. Also includes optional Special Needs Trust provisions maximizing safety, care, community, and financing. The reality is that something could happen at any moment to leave you or your child at risk. It’s more than simply an estate plan for your child, it’s a Life Care Plan.

ROBUST SUPPORT: Caregiver Habits & Community Collaboration

Speaker: Lisa Jamieson

Family Track

Talk Description

Healthy support around caregiving families enriches the entire community. Weíll look at what threatens robust support and review the ìbest practicesî of resilient caregivers. Together, we will explore what godly, sustainable, and effective support looks like through the relentlessness of disability.

Starting a Ministry

Speaker: Jillian Palmiatto

Family Track

Talk Description

This breakout session will provide you with the “Good to Knows” to help you get started with launching a special needs and disability ministry. You will learn topics such as how to create a job description, how to find the people you need for the team, and how to create a vision plan for your ministry. If you are not sure how or where to even begin, this is the breakout session for you.

Navigating School transitions

Speaker: Jeanelle Herrel

Family Track

Talk Description

Disability, Dignity, and The Image of God

Speaker: Dr. Lamar Hardwick

Ministry Track

Talk Description

All of humanity is created in the image of God. In this talk Dr. Lamar Hardwick will share about models of disability, theology of disability, and the ways in which the church is called to defend the dignity of those with disabilities as a practice of our Christian faith.

Making VBS Work for Everyone

Speaker: Janet Loos

Ministry Track

Talk Description

VBS can be a wonderful opportunity for everyone, but how do you accommodate each indivual need? We will discuss recruiting/training volunteers, easy accommodations, parent communication and much more!

4:00pm-5:00pm

Main Session and Worship

Speaker: Vivian Shudde

Ministry Track

Family Track

Talk Description

Friday

9:00-10:00am

Main Session and Worship

Speaker: Dr. Eik Carter

Ministry Track

Family Track

Talk Description

10:15am-11:25am: Breakout #7

Panel Discussion: Cannabis

Speaker: Various

Ministry Track

Family Track

Talk Description

Stop Behavior Before It Starts

Speaker: Tiffany Crow

Ministry Track

Talk Description

Unwanted behaviors happens. Let`s plan for it so you can stop those behaviors before they start! As a participant you will learn strategies to keep unwanted behavior from occurring with tools that already exist within your ministry. Don`t let your content be missed because your learner couldn`t sit!

How To Become a Special Needs Ministry Master Chef

Speaker: Jolene Philo, Katie Wetherbee

Ministry Track

Talk Description

Welcoming families affected by disabilities is a lot like throwing a dinner party…careful planning, and a few special `recipes` can make all the difference! Would you like your church volunteers to become special needs ministry Master Chefs? This workshop is designed to make that happen whether your special needs ministry is up and running, is just launching, or consists of a few church volunteers who want ALL families to feel welcome at church. Katie Wetherbee and Jolene Philo have cooked up a menu of specific strategies designed to help volunteers beef up space modifications, curriculum adaptations, teaching tips, and effective communication with families. They will walk you through each recipe for success and send you home with a file full of techniques and encouragement.

Sweet Spots in the Caregiving Family

Speaker: Lisa Jamieson, Larry Jamieson

Family Track

Talk Description

Caregivers live on a spectrum of needs and capacities for expressing love and care. Every family member has potential to make a valuable contribution. Learning how each one stays fueled emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually is a springboard for greater understanding, appreciation, empathy, respect, balance, and effectiveness in your caregiving family. We will explore practical ways of leveraging and optimizing each contributorís unique strengths.

Designing Sensory Spaces

Speaker: Jillian Palmiatto

Ministry Track

Talk Description

This session is designed to help the church leader or volunteer understand the difference between a sensory space and an activity space. What are they for? Why do we need them? Are they expensive? Learn budget-friendly ways to create a sensory space that will meet the needs of all people with disabilities regardless of the size of your church or the budget and why sensory spaces are important.

Gaining Siblings

Speaker: Lisa Mattheiss

Family Track

Talk Description

Demystifying Employment

Speaker: Andy Traub

Family Track

Talk Description

Ministry Hot Topic

People Not “Problems”: Building an Enduring Culture of Inclusion in Your Church

Speaker: Bronwyn Murphy

Ministry Track

Talk Description

The work of the inclusive church is not the sole responsibility of a disability or special needs ministry coordinator. Learn how to build a lasting culture of inclusion in your church using a helpful assessment tool.

Family Hot Topics (15 minutes)

Using Scripture Meditation to Calm the Nervous System

Speaker: Peggy Ployhar

Family Track

Talk Description
Hot Topic (15 min talk)

Endings Can Also Be Beginnings

Speaker: Nancy Truitt

Family Track

Talk Description

Though your child has a terminal diagnosis or large medical needs, your life together can still be beautiful. Your child is a gift and although you do need to prepare to lose them, that does not mean that you should stop fighting or living every single day.

Family Hot Topics (15 minutes)

Parenting Typical Siblings

Speaker: Melanie Gomez

Family Track

Talk Description

Melanie will share five foundational concepts to securely establish your typical kids on their own unique path. This workshop will provide guidance to parents who may not be sure how to balance all the things when special needs and typical kids needs inevitably collide.

1:30 pm – 2:15 pm: Breakout #8

Functional Fitness: How Exercise Plays a Critical Role in Supporting Common Conditions that Affect Development and Independence

Speaker: Scott Quaife

Family Track

Talk Description

Joint laxity, low muscle tone, obesity — the list goes on. It is well known the health issues that are common in Down syndrome. But how do they specifically affect physical activity? In this presentation, we will take a closer look at eight specific conditions that complicate the ability to exercise and complete daily tasks. If this wasn’t already a challenge, each issue compounds the others and can make movement painful and difficult.

Fortunately, this isn’t the end of the story. Just as the causes are connected, the solutions are too! Based on a functional fitness approach, this presentation will share fundamental ways to address obstacles to health so that they don’t physically limit the lives of individuals with Down syndrome.

Mythbusting: Getting Senior Leadership On Board

Speaker: Stephen “Doc” Hunsley, M.D.

Ministry Track

Talk Description

Are you trying to start a Disability Ministry at your church but having difficulty in getting your senior leadership to understand your vision? Or are you part of the senior leadership and have concerns about starting another ministry? We will debunk all of the myths on why one can’t do a Disability Ministry! This workshop will help give you the tools to have effective conversations with church senior leadership to promote the initiation of a Disability Ministry – even in adverse situations. We will include a mock session of having a discussion with your Senior Leadership near the end of the workshop allowing you to put your new skills to work.

It’s Going to Cost How Much?!?

Speaker: Bronwyn Murphy

Ministry Track

Talk Description

Funding Disability Ministry can often be a daunting task. Come learn practical ways for churches of all sizes to fund the ministry along with much needed supplies and equipment. Often times, these fundraising opportunities have the added benefit of providing increased awareness of the ministry within the community. Itís a win-win!!

Building Disability Ministry Teams That Last – 3 Tips for Retaining Volunteers

Speaker: Barb Stanley

Ministry Track

Talk Description

Tired of recruiting volunteers only to have them quit? This workshop focuses on three ways to help retain volunteers and build ministry teams that last. We will look at: Building Relationships – how to connect with volunteers and church leadership and why both matter so much. Building Up Over Time – how to teach your volunteers new skills in the way they really learn. And Building Perspective – how to learn from your volunteers’ experiences and fix the problems you never knew existed.

How churches can support foster families

Speaker: Bronwyn Murphy

Ministry Track

Talk Description

Shedding Light On Depression

Speaker: Peggy Ployhar

Family Track

Talk Description

Current statistics show over 13% of youth in the United States have suffered from at least one major depressive episode in the last year, and that number increased by almost 100k in a two year span. Peggy Ployhar knows first-hand how dark and limiting depression can be as a youth and young-adult who struggled with depression and as a parent who walked two of her children through the dark road of depression. As a biblical counselor, Peggy transformed her experiential insight of depression in the same manner that God revealed Himself and His truths to pull her and her children out of the pit of despair. This talk biblically dissects depression, exposes the darkness, and in very practical ways reveals how to shed the true Light of Christ into a life darkened by depression.

Hilarious-hope: The Art Of Joy

Speaker: Bronwyn Murphy

Ministry Track

Family Track

Talk Description

Let`s get real! J.Roach shares crafted life-lessons, turned into blessings on the art of joy. This talk is filled authenticity and hilariousness. He teaches the essences of rediscovering and keeping the joy that was gifted to us. You will also be inspired in ways to gift it to others daily.

Excited to Pray: Multi-Sensory ways to Engage Children in Prayer

Speaker: Karen Roberts

Ministry Track

Family Track

Talk Description

This interactive workshop will explore multi-sensory ways to engage children in prayer. There are diverse ways for children to pray, many involve their whole senses. These ideas could be done by a child with a parent, by the child themselves or as a family. They could also be incorporated into children`s ministry.

Preparing your heart and home for Adulthood: for parents of tweens and teens with special needs

Speaker: Melanie Gomez

Family Track

Talk Description

Starting out the special needs journey is life changing for new, young parents. But let’s talk about the veterans in this spirit-focused workshop. Without spiritual preparation and solid biblical anchors, the transition of your child to adulthood can feel like a new diagnosis all over again. In this time together Melanie will share the wisdom she gained in that season, and help special needs parents of tweens, teens and adults refresh and renew their minds, hearts and spirits for the long, wonderful journey ahead.

2:30 pm – 3:40 pm: Breakout #9

Panel Discussion: Parent – Child Employment

Speaker: Various

Ministry Track

Family Track

Talk Description

Starting out the special needs journey is life changing for new, young parents. But let’s talk about the veterans in this spirit-focused workshop. Without spiritual preparation and solid biblical anchors, the transition of your child to adulthood can feel like a new diagnosis all over again. In this time together Melanie will share the wisdom she gained in that season, and help special needs parents of tweens, teens and adults refresh and renew their minds, hearts and spirits for the long, wonderful journey ahead.

How to do Respite in Any Size Ministry

Speaker: Elizabeth Barnett

Ministry Track

Talk Description

Starting out the special needs journey is life changing for new, young parents. But let’s talk about the veterans in this spirit-focused workshop. Without spiritual preparation and solid biblical anchors, the transition of your child to adulthood can feel like a new diagnosis all over again. In this time together Melanie will share the wisdom she gained in that season, and help special needs parents of tweens, teens and adults refresh and renew their minds, hearts and spirits for the long, wonderful journey ahead.

Including Kids on the “High End” of the Spectrum: Adding Mental Health Ministry Strategies to our “Special Needs” Toolbox

Speaker: Dr. Steve Grcevich, Catherine Boyle, Tiffany Crow

Ministry Track

Talk Description

Research suggests that nearly 60% of children and teens with autism spectrum disorders are of normal or high intelligence and may not be served well by “special needs” ministry designed for individuals with intellectual disability. Mental health concerns commonly co-occurring with autism are often the cause of many of their social limitations. This workshop will help participants develop a strategy for including kids on the high end of the spectrum, by combining mental health ministry ideas with traditional approaches for serving youth with autism. For churches with established disability ministries, this workshop will serve as a first step to expanding support for children and teens with significant mental health conditions and their families.

What Does Biblical Hospitality Look Like?

Speaker: Lisa Sherman

Ministry Track

Talk Description

Christians tend to think that hospitality means giving up your seat in the pew for a Sunday. However, true hospitality means being equitable, inclusive, and engaging. Many churches struggle with being inclusive in all areas of church life. This talk looks at moving beyond the welcoming committee and transforming worship, fellowship, discipleship, leadership, and stewardship.

Creating inclusive environments

Speaker: Jillian Palmiatto

Ministry Track

Talk Description

Are you struggling with how to create a friendly, inclusive environment? Do you know the differences between the environments for inclusion, modified, and hybrid spaces? Are you unsure which environment is actually right for your church? This session will help you understand the options that you have to create safe environments for people with special needs and the must-haves for each type of environment to make your church more disability friendly.

Viewing Trauma with a Child’s Eyes and Mind: The Key to Making Kids Feel Safe

Speaker: Jolene Philo

Family Track

Talk Description

This workshop equips parents and primary caregivers, as well as church ministry staff and volunteers, to view trauma from a child’s perspective. It then uses the Instinctual Trauma Response (ITR) model to provide a window into the mind of a child who is experiencing a traumatic event. It also explains how and where traumatic memories are stored before outlining steps that can be taken to make kids feel safe at home and at church.

Special Needs Trusts & ABLE Accounts: How These Financial Vehicles Can Help to Protect Income and Provide for Care

Speaker: Samantha Shepherd, Evie Curtis

Family Track

Talk Description

Starting out the special needs journey is life changing for new, young parents. But let’s talk about the veterans in this spirit-focused workshop. Without spiritual preparation and solid biblical anchors, the transition of your child to adulthood can feel like a new diagnosis all over again. In this time together Melanie will share the wisdom she gained in that season, and help special needs parents of tweens, teens and adults refresh and renew their minds, hearts and spirits for the long, wonderful journey ahead.

Real Talk for Caregiving Couples

Speaker: Lisa Jamieson, Larry Jamieson

Family Track

Talk Description

Is it reality or fantasy that your marriage can survive a journey that includes a child with disabilities or other special needs? Is it possible to cultivate a cooperative caregiving system with your spouse? Weíll have engaging discussion about the strengths, weaknesses, threats, and opportunities couples experience when caring for a loved one with complex needs. Larry and Lisa Jamieson are not afraid to talk candidly and vulnerably, even about topics that are usually hard to discuss. If you need encouragement, practical ideas, and fresh hope, youíll find resonance and help here.

Keeping Ministry Safe for Everyone

Speaker: Samantha Jones, David Jones

Ministry Track

Talk Description

In this workshop, we unpack the risk management process, a proactive approach to safety in an Inclusive Ministry. Includes 9 practical ways to manage the most common inclusion ministry risks. Because safety doesn`t happen by accident

4:00pm-5:00pm

Main Session and Worship

Speaker: Stephen “Doc” Hunsley, M.D.

Ministry Track

Family Track

Talk Description