Lutheran Church Grant Helps Support Disability Ministries

A student from Thrive Day School showcasing his arts and crafts

The church should be a place that welcomes all people and supports efforts to be inclusive. 

Tragically that is not always the case. However, the ELCA Disability Ministries is awarding grants that foster spiritual growth and honor everyone’s capabilities.

One of these grants was awarded to Thrive Day School in Waxhaw, N.C.

Thrive Day School is a special education preschool for children with autism ages Down syndrome, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or other emotional, social or learning delays or disabilities housed on the campus of Christ Lutheran Church in Charlotte, NC.

The school began as a response to a congregational need to provide children’s ministry services with diverse children’s capacities. Laura Scott, director of Thrive Day School said, “We knew, in the Charlotte area, that there isn’t another preschool that works with students with special needs.

“If your child needs extra help or specialty services, those aren’t available, so we thought there was a need in the community and that it was something our church could meet. The early years are so important for children’s development, and for children with autism or genetic disorders, [it’s] important services get started early.”

The school’s ELCA Disability Ministries grant will help support the purchasing of tables, chairs and specialty toys for students with autism and Down syndrome.

“Most of these kids’ families don’t feel comfortable bringing [their] children to church. But the members here say, ‘Come in, it’s OK if they have a moment or need to step away.’”

The school has a student teacher ratio of 4:1 and this school year will have an enrollment of 16-20 students.  Additionally, the school is starting a new homeschool co-op called Thrive Home.

A typical day at Thrive School consists of school time in the morning and afternoon sessions with therapists and doctors who provide speech, occupational and physical therapy services to students at the school so parents don’t have to travel with children offsite.

Despite most of Thrive Day School’s students are not members of Christ Lutheran, the congregation has embraced them with open arms.  Scott states, “Most of these kids’ families don’t have that support and don’t feel comfortable bringing [their] children to church,” she said. “But the members here say, ‘Come in, it’s OK if they have a moment or need to step away.’ The support from the church has been great.”

Source: Living Lutheran