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Break Out Sessions 3

Take your time reading about each session and so you can customize your conference experience! You will be able to choose one (1) session from this group.

Budgeting for a

Special Needs Ministry

Led by: Lynn Wilkerson

The top three reasons that church leaders give for not allowing disability inclusion are: it will be too much work, there's too much liability, or it will be too expensive. In this session, you will learn that inclusion doesn't require additional costs, and separate spaces can be created for minimal cost. You will learn how to budget for your first year and will hear about creative, budget-friendly ways to create a sensory-friendly environment so that everyone receives the gospel. 

Understanding the

Grief of Diagnosis

Led by: Jeanetta Bryant

God works in ways we cannot imagine and uses our weakest moments to craft some of his greatest work. An important part of partnering with parents in disability ministry is to help them recognize the obstacles before they appear so that they can move forward and find hope. This session will provide strategies for ministering to parents when they first receive a special needs diagnosis. 

Fundraising and Marketing for

Your Special Needs Ministry

Led by: Carolyn Polakowski

In this session, attendees will learn tips to differentiate your mission and programs from the sea of nonprofits, churches, and ministries competing for limited dollars and volunteers. Learn about branding your ministry and crafting a clear message to let people in your community know how welcoming your church is to people with disabilities in order to raise funds and find volunteers to help your ministry grow.  

Overcoming the

Hopeless Complex

Led by: Ron Sandison

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.

Discipling Adults with Developmental Disabilities

Led by: Garrett Wall & Griffin Marshall

We all have a wide variety of needs. Adults with disabilities are no different. In this workshop, we will look at the spiritual, physical, and social needs that must be addressed to set the stage for adult discipleship opportunities. Then we will explore various opportunities for classes, activities, and curriculum designed to make discipleship more effective.

Launching a Life Group

for Special Needs Moms

Led by: Sharon Weatherspoon

Special needs and disability ministry isn't just about the individual with disabilities. It's also about ministry to the parents. In this workshop, attendees will receive a guidebook on how to take action and host a Brunch & Learn for their senior church leaders to help them understand disability and the importance of ministering to mothers of special education students. Sharon will guide you through how to explain to church leaders why this outreach is warranted! 

Including High Functioning Students with Disabilities in Private Education

Led by: Rachael Barron

Join us for an introduction to executive functioning skills and how they impact student success. In this session, we will discuss what Executive Functioning is, what to expect at each age, and how to set up your environment and lessons for student success. These strategies can be applied to assist Christian private schools in welcoming students with high-functioning disabilities or ministry leaders who are teaching the gospel message. 

Programming for

Adults with Disabilities

Led by: Jeff Jansma

When creating specialized ministry and instruction for kids with special needs, we often forget that they don't stop growing up! This presentation will help you define what you want to offer to your adult disability community including programming for weekly bible study, social events, and community respite. You will learn about local resources, ideas, programs, and the philosophy of Special Needs and Disability Ministries.

We Worship

Together (FULL)

Led by: Pamela Vandewalker

In this session you will learn ways to foster worship opportunities for people with special needs. We will explore ways to create inclusive experiences using faith-based resources to grow a community where all worship together.


Buddy Training (FULL)

Led by: Doc Hunsley

This workshop is geared toward 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. You can easily take this back home and train your volunteers as well.

Using Multi-Sensory Strategies to Teach Scripture (FULL)

Led by: Beth Golik

This hands-on session will equip you with low-cost and no-cost ideas to engage a variety of learners in your children’s ministry, including those who learn best through hearing, seeing, or doing. Attendees will learn ways to present the gospel without changing the message or lowering their standards for behavior or learning. Discover ways to present the gospel so that every child has an opportunity to know Jesus. 

Post-Secondary Programming for Adults with Disabilities

Led by: Brian Page

Ministry leaders often forget to consider what happens to families when students transition from one ministry area to the next. For students with disabilities, these transitions can look drastically different from a neurotypical student. Learn what post-secondary programs exist for students with disabilities in order to help parents continue to dream about their child's future. There is life after high school for young adults with disabilities!


Difficult Behavior (FULL)

Led by: Steven Culver & Kent Wright, Jr.

One fear that people have when wanting to promote disability inclusion is disruptive behavior....the "what ifs" or unknowns of yelling out, invading space, or having full-on meltdowns. How do you handle that in a group setting, especially a learning environment like church or school? This session will equip you with simple strategies for understanding how to prevent the behaviors before they happen and what to do in the event that they do occur.

Read About Our Fabulous Speakers!


Shelly Roach, Shine Café Director at Southeast Christian Church

You will usually find Shelley in the Shine Café at Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, KY. She oversees this inclusive café where adults with developmental disabilities are given the opportunity to learn job skills and serve their congregation. Shelley has been a part of the church staff for 5 years. When she joined staff she brought with her years of experience as the sibling of a sister with Down Syndrome as well as professional work in the disabilities community. She and her husband live on a farm in Mt. Eden, KY.

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