Creating A Place For People with Disabilities and Special Needs In The Faith-Life of Our Community

The Austin Interfaith Inclusion Network:
Creating A Place For
People with Disabilities and Special Needs In The Faith-Life of Our Community

Often when people with disabilities attend church, people in the congregation end up saying ignorant things because they do not understand about people with disabilities. A couple of these common statements are: “God will heal you if you just believe in Him” and “Your parents must have done something wrong io make you this way [disabled]“. As a result of this, people with disabilities are discouraged from going back to church or looking for another church because it is not a battle that is as important as everything else they must fight for in their lives.

Participating in the faith-life of our community, as we choose, is a basic right, an expression of freedom, a way to grow spiritually, and a way to stay connected to a meaningful community. But...

  • 57% of people without disabilities attend religious services as compared to 49% of people with disabilities (2010 NOD/Harris Survey)
  • isolation from meaningful community activities and relationships is a major cause of depression among older adults
  • children with special needs are not always included in religious education or given an opportunity to learn and grow spiritually with peers without disabilities
  • religious leaders and others don’t always realize that people with disabilities could participate in meaningful ways
  • we all lose spiritually as a community when everyone is not valued or included

Austin now has a way to address these problems and we would like you to be part of this initiative by helping us break down barriers to full inclusion of people with disabilities and special needs in the faith-life of our community. We are pleased to announce The Austin Interfaith Inclusion Network (AIIN).

The AIIN will be an ongoing, self-sustaining alliance of faith-based organizations in Austin committed to including people with developmental disabilities in faith-based practices, community services, and programs. Inclusion successes, concerns and barriers will be identified and will be addressed at the two annual symposia featuring local and national experts, clergy, parents, people with disabilities, and professionals. The symposium will include best practices, goal setting, and collaborative problem solving. The AIIN is being created through partnerships between OneStar Foundation, Jewish Family Service and Texas A&M University’s Center on Disability and Development, and is funded through a grant from The Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities.

The first symposium is scheduled on Wednesday, October 17, 2012, from 9:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. The AIIN meetings and the symposium will be held at the Dell Jewish Community Campus located at 7300 Hart Lane, Austin, TX. For more information or to participate in the AIIN and/or the Symposium, contact Suzanne Potts, OneStar Foundation at or by calling (512) 287-2043.

Creating A Place For People with Disabilities and Special Needs In The Faith-Life of Our Community | Education News.

Jimmy Kilpatrick, a national recognized professional special education advocate since 1994.

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