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Full Inclusion: Down Syndrome

In: People

Submitted By Rat10Race
Words 5000
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Abstract
When a community of followers listens to the heartbeat of God, wondrous things can happen, and it did for The Rock Church & World Outreach Center (ROWOC). God has taught this once exceptionally small group of people to be a Christian church. God told the Pastors to come to a city that was full of sin, pain, in need of the Almighty Savior and filled with poverty. “Pastors Jim and Deborah Cobra had just started the church with a small group of people, and the Lord was already bringing in the broken-hearted, the sick and the maimed” (The Rock Church, 2013). With the promise from Isaiah 12:3, “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation”, The Rock Church begins a life-long difference in a broken city. Then after many years, a mother and her son with Down syndrome named “Brian” came to service. The church was developing and expanding its structures at the time. The Pastor was preaching about how the members could help by donations to pay off the upgraded church. Pledges were being made, and Brian was only a young child at the time. He wanted to pledge. He wanted to get involved. His mother was astounded by Brian’s need to be involved. At first, the mother did not think of Brian being able to determine his involvement in the pledge; however she did not want to confuse the love of the Lord that Brian was clearly showing. She did not think it was possible for him to get, but she quickly learned she was wrong. This is when RCWOC decided to make a fully inclusive children’s youth ministry program, and they named it after Brian. RCWOC is dedicated in meeting the needs of all children that attend the church. Down Syndrome: A Full Inclusion Plan for The Rock Church Like today’s many churches, The Rock Church & World Outreach Center (RCWOC) is a Nondenominational Church located in the older part of San Bernardino, California. The church is located in an area that has been run down and not considered a normal location for a church. In 1988, with “12 people and one box of Kleenex” (The Rock Church. 2013), RCWOC was established. The Kleenex was not for runny noses, but to wipe away the tears of joy the 12 was sharing for the love of the Lord. The founding Pastors Jim and Deborah Cobrae started the church with these 12 people, and the Lord started bringing in the broken-hearted and the sick. Building on the promise from Isaiah 12:3, tens of thousands of people have walked down the aisles of ROWOC as of today’s date! Many have given their hearts and lives to Jesus Christ within the doors of ROWOC and have experienced the healing powers of Almighty God’s love. Within this well rounded church, there is something for all ages: Men’s Ministry, Women’s Ministry, Prison Ministry, and Youth Ministry to name a few. To present time the church has about 24,000 members that have emerged from the small 12 that started over a few decades ago. Currently there are 17 pastors that proclaim to the church on many different given days and times for anyone to come in and praise the Lord. Senior Pastor Jim and Senior Pastor Deborah are still leading the way to the community. The church has Pastors for each distinct areas where the Pastor specializes SPT and Restoration, Pastoral Care and Small Groups Ministry, Women’s and Small Group Ministry, and Pastor Mike and Pastor Sue who lead the Children’s Ministry, to name just a few of the many. Services are held Wednesday’s night at 7:00 P.M., Women’s Bible Study on Thursday’s at 9:30 A.M., Young Adults Service on Friday’s at 7:00 P.M., and then on Sunday’s there are services throughout the day to meet the needs of the community. The Sunday service at 10:00 A.M. is the time for Adults with special needs class which is called “Brian’s Class”. The primary aim and focus for this paper is about the Children’s Ministry.
Children’s Ministry as of Today When walking into the children’s ministry at ROWOC, the feeling of excitement starts from moment one. One of the animators for Disney came and did all the art work on the walls to appeal to the eyes of children of all ages. The children’s ministry is held on Wednesday nights at 7:00 P.M., Saturday’s at 10:00 A.M., and Sunday’s at 8:00 A.M., 10:00 A.M., 12:00 P.M. and 6:00 P.M. There are specific classes being held for each age group. The Nursery is for children ages 0-24 months, Early Childhood for ages 2 years through First grade, which these are broken down by age (2, 3, 4 and 5 year old classrooms), and Elementary for grades 2 through 6. The children’s ministry is based on encouraging children to develop friendships in their classrooms, be consistent in coming to class to benefit from Biblical instruction, sharing with the children about the papers and crafts they bring home, asking questions about the Bible story and looking for new ways to connect to today’s world, and for parents to give their P.A.R.T.T. (Parents Actively & Responsibly Teaching & Training).
It is essential for the children to understand that Jesus loves them, and they should love one another and treat one another as Jesus Christ has loved them. One can enter the heart of a child through the door of his or her interests and teach them how to be Christ-like at any age. ROWOC strives in teaching the Word of God, not religion. Scripture is used and taught in the way the children can learn. When Brian came along as a small child, it was necessary to the church to provide a full inclusion ministry to serve God and to show the love for all His children. With plenty of activities, such as crafts, services geared towards the age group, singing, dancing, sharing, building peer relationships within the classroom and with Jesus Christ, including indoor and outdoor playtime on age appropriate playgrounds, the children’s ministry is able to perform all things the church stands for. Saving the lives of the fallen! Anyone who wants to volunteer in the children’s ministry is welcome to do so; however, a thorough background check is done on each and every individual. It is crucial for ROWOC to keep the children safe and out of harm’s way. Doing this allows the children to be directed by followers of Jesus Christ to bring compassion and spiritual growth to the children. The children’s ministry is truly enlightening; however, it goes beyond the school ground and gives the child the environment of a warm and loving church.
Rationale for Full Inclusion
Biblical
“The Rock Church & World Outreach Center is built on the foundation of Jesus Christ; God’s only begotten Son, the Savior and Lord over all creation” (The Rock Church, 2013). According to the mission statement for the church, it exists as a church to bring God’s culture to love, acceptance and forgiveness to the area in which it has been built in, to the nation, and the world (The Rock Church, 2013). “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Shows clearly from a Biblical rationale that God himself wanted full inclusion in His church; Jesus Christ offers the gospel of salvation to any and all that is willing to confess their sins and believe in Him. Jesus did preach that not everyone would believe in Him; however, ROWOC strives to prove through the Word of God and their ministries, that the Lord loves all. Adapting their ministries for every members needs is important for spiritual growth and to make a change for all groups of people in the nation. Full inclusion promotes a healthy growth amongst all the children. It teaches the children the meaning of equal worth in the eyes of the Lord. Children tend to learn more with all children, than they would if they were singled out by disabilities, race, or religion. The Bible says, “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27). The Rock Church & World Outreach Center fully understands and believes that everyone should be treated thus the same. All classrooms, lessons, activities and worship should fully include everyone and adapt to each of their needs where possible. This promotes the eagerness in all to want to learn God’s love and to serve God as a unit.
Scientific/Research
Incorporating full inclusion within any setting has many positive outcomes. “Children with special needs will have positive role models who help to improve overall academic achievement and development” (Barringer, 2009). It is known that all children have different kinds of needs regardless of having disabilities or none. To bring the two together teaches the children unity. It takes a good teacher with more training to specialize in adapting material that is appropriate for both normally developed children and children with disabilities. Full inclusion allows the child with a disability to see themselves no different than anyone else. This is important for their social skills and growth. Full inclusion also teaches the normal developed children that no matter who they are, they are all a part of the same community. This allows diversity within the settings and “The children in the classroom benefit from teachers who attend ongoing training and have access to state-of-the-art materials and resources” (Barringer, 2009). Kochhar, West, and Taymans (2000), believe that full inclusion “facilitates more appropriate social behavior because of higher expectations in the general education classroom” (Hines, 2001). They also stated that full inclusion “offers a wide circle of support, including social support from classmates without disabilities; and improves the ability of students and teachers to adapt to different teaching and learning styles” (Hines, 2001).
Mission Statement
"THE INLAND EMPIRE SHALL BE SAVED!"
The Rock Church and World Outreach Center is built on the foundation of Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten Son, the Savior and Lord over all creation.
We exist as a church to bring His culture of love, acceptance and forgiveness to the Inland Empire, our nation, and the world.
We have a passion to see unbelievers become believers daily and to communicate the Word of God in a transparent and relevant way.
It is our desire to assist in helping and serving the family of God to mature spiritually and become fathers to the fatherless.
We are building a prevailing church that reaches into the next generation, changing the spiritual, social, and economic climate of our community through God’s Word and His deeds.
Therefore, as distributors of God’s goodness and kingdom resources, through faith-filled servant hood we believe we will see our vision fulfilled, "The Inland Empire shall be saved!"
-The Rock Church, 2013
Necessary Key Elements for Full Inclusion
The necessary key elements for full inclusion within The Rock Church & World Outreach Center adheres both Biblically and scientifically to accomplish the demands needed for special needs. This is done through volunteering from the community and other followers of Christ. Also, extensive training for all educators within the classrooms at ROWOC, including having full access to all the materials that will be needed to meet each child’s needs for both non-disabled and children with disabilities. All of these will take a part in making Brian’s spiritual growth more efficient to his needs and the needs of others. Brian, who has Down syndrome, is now 20 years old and attends the adult class with disabilities.
Volunteers
Volunteers are called Brian’s Buddies. This is a mix of older children, teens and adults with a desire to work one-on-one with children with special needs. In Brian’s case, it is a peer within the same age of Brian. Brian has verbalized he prefers it this way. Each volunteer goes through and extensive background to insure the safety of Brian and other children with special needs. Brain’s Buddy assists him in making sure he gets to the services of his choosing each and every service Brian sees fit. The volunteer also sits with Brian during this service to ensure that all materials reach Brian adequately. When Brian needs to use the restroom, the volunteer aides Brian in this task to make sure he is able to move or transition to the proper facility. Now that Brian is 20 years old, he has the ability to pick and choose who he wishes to be his Buddy. Brian’s Buddy also assists Brian while in Sunday class, Bible Study and serves as an assistant to the teacher with the other adults with special needs. ROWOC trains many volunteers to be as efficient as Brian’s Buddy so that Brian never has to worry about inconsistency. Someone is always available for Brian at any given time, even outside of the church. Having multiple trained volunteer’s to Brian’s liking and to the state standards, also gives Brian diversity in different personalities, which Brian can relate to each and every one. Brian usually does not work with outside volunteers because he prefers to have someone with a continuous relationship with God.

Training Training is required of all volunteers and is usually help every Wednesday night. It is important that each volunteer understands the physical and psychological needs of all the special needs children involved in the youth ministry. Even beyond the scope of Down syndrome, because each child has different needs. Even the peer aged volunteers are given the proper education and knowledge through the program, whereas else where they would not have access to this information or education. Brian has many great challenges that have been shared by his mother to the Pastors and volunteers. It is important to the family that all of Brian’s educational, spiritual and social needs are met. Sherry who is a special education teacher of 20 years, leads the special needs program. She has several other colleagues that have a college education and background to come up with new and motivated ways to assist Brian in reaching his goals.
Accommodations/Materials
Brian is able to recognize and memorize shapes and colors. He has been educated that each shape and color means something different. For example, Brian understands that a blue triangle means “bathroom”. In the classroom setting Brian has been given free will to choose which ever bathroom he deems fit for his purpose. Both male and female bathrooms are designed identically. Each one has a urinal for both bathrooms regardless the gender. Even though Brian does not use a urinal, it is still there for him to see.
Another form of communication for Brian’s mother is a vibrating device that is given to her and to all parents with child nondisabled and with disabilities that alarms the caregiver when the child is in need. The ROWOC is also geared to use cellphones and a form of technology if the parent chooses not to use the vibrating device. This allows children to engage and enjoy their activities while the caregiver is allowed to worship the Lord inside the church.
A wide variety of snacks are available to the capability to each child. Depending on their personal chewing abilities each child is able to share a varied of fruits and other healthy snacks. An assessment of the child’s needs is done prior to the child arriving to the activities. If an apple needs to be served in the form of applesauce it is done so that no child feels left out. Brian has areas in his mouth where his teeth did not form, so he has to eat softer foods. Foods are broken up in smaller pieces and not changed if it can be avoided so that Brian feels he is getting what everyone else is receiving. Most kids in Brian’s activities have chosen to have their cookies or apples in the same form that Brian needs them in. This is a sign of a community that understands and loves one another.
Summary of Down Syndrome
A brief description is given below for a better understanding of what Down syndrome is and how it effects Brian’s daily living:
Definition
“Occurring in 1 out of 800 live births, Down syndrome is the most frequent genetic cause of mild to moderate mental retardation. While it is genetic in that it involves an extra chromosome 21 (trisomy 21), it is not an inherited condition. Because there is no cure for Down syndrome, treatment involves controlling symptoms and medical conditions that may develop as a result” (eMedTV, 2013).
Characteristics
Characteristics of Down syndrome vary from one child to the next. Not all children will have the same features and physical challenges; however, most have the follow described in common. Facial features will show commonly through a small mouth, upturned eyes and a flat nose. The faces are slightly rounder and have a flatter skull profile in both front and back of the head. The tongue will be shorter and wider than usual. None of these attributes are a medical importance but do allow Down syndrome to be recognizable. Hands and feet on a child with Down syndrome are common as well with only one crease in the palm area. The fingers will appear short and stubby, with smaller pinky’s and curving inward. The feet appear to be smaller with a larger space between the big toe and the next toe. These features do not affect the child medically, but are another form of identification of Down syndrome. Low muscle tone known as hyptonia is another feature a child with Down syndrome will be apparent. Vision and hearing problems are usually an issue. “Somewhere between 40-60% of babies with Down syndrome will have some form of hearing loss” (Fergus, 2009).
Prevalence
“Down syndrome is a chromosomal disorder that affects an estimated 1 in 800 births or 5,400 infants in the United States each year. The chance of surviving beyond the first year of life has improved in the past few years, with 90 percent of children with Down syndrome now living past 5 years of age. In the study, "Prevalence of Down Syndrome Among Children and Adolescents in 10 Regions of the United States," published in the December issue of Pediatrics (appearing online Nov. 30), researchers conducted a cross-sectional analysis of infants born with Down syndrome from 10 population-based birth defects registries in the U.S. from 1979 to 2003” (Medical News Today, 2009).
Etiology
Down syndrome is known to be associated with maternal age. Other risk factors have yet to be identified. A study was done in eastern India involving 138 families. “We genotyped each family with a set of STR markers using PCR and characterized the stage of origin of nondisjunction and the recombination pattern of maternal chromosome 21 during oogenesis. Our sample contains 107 maternal meiosis I errors and 31 maternal meiosis II errors and we subsequently stratified them with respect to maternal age and the number of detectable crossover events. We observed an association between meiosis I nondisjunction and recombination in the telomeric 5.1 Mb of chromosome 21. By contrast, in meiosis II cases we observed preferential pericentromeric exchanges covering the proximal 5.7 Mb region, with interaction between maternal age and the location of the crossover” (Gosh, Feingold & Dey, 2009).
Prognosis
Life expectancy has changed from what was known many years ago. It has seeminly increased to a longer lifespan. Today an person with Down syndrome can live as long as 50 years, whereas in 1929 a child was fortunate to live past 9 years. Adults are with Down syndrome are living longer, fuller, and richer lives because their families and communities are better educated than before. There is still no cure for Down syndrome to date. “A prognosis gives an idea of the likely course and outcome of a disease. Several factors affect the Down syndrome prognosis, including other medical conditions that can occur because of the disorder” (eMedTV, 2013).
Current Research
“Dr. Roger Reeves’ lab at Johns Hopkins University has determined that a certain population of cerebellar neurons is compromised due to a decreased response to the SHH growth factor. Using a compound, SAG, that mimics the effects of SHH, in a mouse model for Down syndrome, these DSRTF-supported researchers were able to normalize the development of the cerebellum and restore function in a key learning and memory test of the hippocampus in these mice. This improvement had a surprising range of positive effects on brain function. Ongoing studies are further investigating the positive effects of SAG in the mouse model for Down syndrome” (DSRTF, 2012). There are many variety studies being done and lab rats to find a way to change the course of the chromosome duplication or to find prevention for Down syndrome. All are involving DNA samples being taken from the children with Down syndrome and their parents. Today, human trials are not being used due to the unpredictability of the results.
Social Dynamics
It is important to make sure that Brian stays within his peer group to maintain the most important part of his development: social relationships. “There has been very little research into the way in which children with Down syndrome develop relationships and co-operation with their age-mates” (Buckley, Bird & Sacks, 2002). Children with Down syndrome have a wonderful sense of self, their cognitive development and symbolic. The overabundance of love and joy is just heartfelt when in the presence of a child with Down syndrome. It is highly important to keep social interaction skills intact for children with Down syndrome. The children thrive more on social understandings, play time, meaningful friendships and leisure skills. These strengths are both in child and adults with Down syndrome, which can enhance their quality of life. “The opportunity to establish friendships may be affected by social independence, and by speech, and language and cognitive delay” (Buckley, Bird & Sacks, 2002). It is the responsibility of the family or caregivers, including teachers, Pastors, clergymen, or any others that interact with a child or an adult of Down syndrome to insure that friendships and education are increased and continue to challenge the person with Down syndrome.

Brian
Church-Family-School Partnership
IEP Goal 1 – Brian will increase his ability to separate from his mother at the door of the Sunday school class 80% of the time. IEP Goal 2 – Brian will increase his ability to give up his “security toy”, “Chubby Bear” in which he brings everywhere with him that is used for his self-soothing vice, in which this vice causes distraction to Miss Sherry after 20 minutes of entering the Sunday school door. Miss Sherry will assist Brian to put the “Chubby Bear” in his personal cubby. This will occur 80% of the time. IEP Goal 3 – Brian will initiated interactive communication with his peers 3 out of 4 opportunities given without coaxing. Brian needs to do at least 80% of his own interaction with his peers. This will increase his confidence and social skills.
.
IEP Goal 4: Spiritual – Brian will increase his ability to understand the meaning of God and His love for Brian which allows him to have purpose and understanding and worship at least 3 out of 4 Sunday’s each month.

IEP Goal 5: Social and emotional for transition: Brian will attend an active Youth Ministry with his peers without assistance and will be interacting with youth leaders for 120 minutes, 1 time per week, which will include music and games. Brian will meet this goal 80% of the time.

IEP Goal 6: Home Groups: Brian will have the opportunity to choose his own home group given the options to where he would like to attend with a friend which will help him in transition for life after high school. This will be measure liberally, since this will be an understudy.

IEP Goal 7: Field Trips: Brian will have the opportunity to attend College Connection Camp, otherwise known as CCC, for youth 17 through 24 years old, and that he will have the opportunity to spend 3 days with an assistant of his choice and attend all services, activities, and sleep in the dorms with his peers, 1 time per year, or as much as offered by the church and leadership.

Plan for Growth of the Ministry
One Year
Brian and his mother became members of the church when Brian was much younger. The Rock Church & World Outreach Center has designed a program named after Brian and his buddies. This allows children with disabilities to be fully included in all church activities. Brian and his mother have made videos to share their testimony that is played during services from time to time to continuously share with the members their success story. The plan is to expand even larger about Brian and his youth ministry to the community. This can be done through word of mouth within the church. More classrooms are being built as the children’s ministry grows. More funds are becoming available to keep focus on the children because the Lord loved all His children. This is important for the church to implement all these goals that have been set forth for Brian within all services, including outside Sunday services. This allows all children with disabilities to learn God’s love and to worship Him amongst their peers. This allows them to gain personable relationships with children from all backgrounds, race, and cultures.
Five Years
More awareness to the community can be done through televised advertisement to local channels not only to parents within the community but to family members and friends to help spread the word that The Rock Church & World Outreach Center is open to all. To have more volunteers get involved to serve the Lord and the children. To insure that all youth groups for all ages are available for special needs and full inclusion. Home groups are established to give the community more support to those children that are homeward bound. All classes, services, activities are set up accordingly to any child’s needs. To ensure the church is continuously growing and able to have all classrooms, prayer rooms and services areas full of accommodations. In these short 5 years, ROWOC will be fully equipped to handle any type of disability that may come their way. Also to help sister churches to be able to accomplish the same, by educating them and showing them the possibilities are endless when a church stays together and prays together.
Conclusion
In conclusion, Brian is given an extreme opportunity to strive with his community, at home within his family, and at his place of worship. Having this fully inclusive program allows this for all children like Brian and for the children with different types of special needs. This program equips ROWOC with the knowledge and volunteer power if a person with a different disability joins the church. It will take the church a matter of a few weeks to make sure all the accommodations are handled because of what they have learned with Brian. A full inclusion program shows the love and dedication it members have to be Christ-like and shows the passion for the Lord. In turn this shows the community that all things are possible with Jesus Christ. It will intrigue and draw them in to see the good God does for all. As the mission statement states, “We exist as a church to bring His culture of love, acceptance and forgiveness to the Inland Empire, our nation, and the world” (The Rock Church, 2013). All these goals are measurable, and with the Lords guidance accomplishable. Not only are these goals important to Brian’s family for his development and self-achievements, it is important to other families that are living with children with disabilities. It is important to the community that they can worship the Lord in a safe environment that truly cares for the people. Each goal for each child will be looked at as needed if new issues arise and at least once a year to see where improvements can be made. Our God is an awesome God!

References
Barringer, K. (2009). The daytona beach news - journal. Classroom inclusion has many benefits, doi: 382991628
Buckley, S. J., Bird, G., & Sacks, B. (2002). Social development for individuals with down syndrome - an overview. Down syndrome education online, doi: 10.3104/9781903806210
DSRTF. (2012). Down syndrome research and treatment foundation. Retrieved from http://www.dsrtf.org/Page.aspx?pid=357 eMedTV. (2013). Down syndrome. Retrieved from http://down-syndrome.emedtv.com/down-syndrome/down-syndrome.html
Fergus, K. (2009, April 08). The features of down syndrome:a short description of the characteristics frequently seen in down syndrome . Retrieved from http://downsyndrome.about.com/od/featuresofdownsyndrome/a/featuresess_ro.htm
Gosh, S., Feingold, E., & Dey, S. K. (2009). Am j med genet a. Etiology of Down syndrome:Evidence for consistent association among altered meiotic recombination, nondisjunction, and maternal age across populations., 7(149A), 1415-1420. doi: 10.1002/ajmg.a.32932
Hines, R. (2001). Inclusion in middle schools. Early Childhood and Parenting (ECAP) Collaborative, doi: EDO-PS-01-13
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
McCarty, K. (2006). Full inclusion: the benefits and disadvantages of inclusive schooling an overview. ERIC, doi: ED496074
Medical News Today. (2009, December 01). Down syndrome prevalence in the united states. Retrieved from http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/172493.php
*Note: Format of this paper was taken from the example that was given by instructor, no author was given, unable to give proper credit, but ideas were not fully of my own.…...

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