Earlier this summer, the PHPC Vacation Bible School theme centered around the individual journeys we go through in life. The Mission’s team was asked to teach the lesson and lead one of the activity stations.
The lesson on our particular day was on Mary’s journey to Bethlehem and the shepherd’s in the fields of Bethlehem at the birth of Jesus. We read the story and taught how God uses all people, even those who may be considered different and have unique abilities, in order to show His love to the world.
This story seemed like the best opportunity for our Mission’s team to share our Epiphany Ministry with the kids and discussed the importance of inclusion, and empathy in our lives. I shared about my own disability and the kids were given the chance to ask me questions about life in my wheelchair!
I have always felt like it was important to provide opportunities for others to ask me questions and love the simple curiosity of kids! I get questions from: “Can you ride rollercoasters?” To “How do you get to work?”
However, this time was different. I was asked about the difficulty of relationships with others, encounters of bullying, times when I felt left out, and how God has used the difficulties of life from my wheelchair to bring Him glory! It was amazing to see the hearts of the kids on display and see the lessons of empathy take root.
Empathy is formed not simply by hearing the stories of others but rather through the invitation to become a participant within the context of these stories. I asked the kids how many of them had experience with someone who had a disability. At the beginning of our lesson, only a few kids raised their hands but I reminded them that now they had a friend in a wheelchair!
We hope that our lesson was an introduction for the kids to love others, even those who might have differences.
Parents, try asking your kids about their experience with those living with disabilities. Encourage them to ask questions instead of stare and treat others with kindness.