Children with special needs in Red Deer, Alta., have a brand new ministry available to them.
Skip’s Place is the brainchild of Caleb Cameron, a member of New Life Fellowship Christian Reformed Church. A professional musician pursuing a music production major at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Mass., Cameron found music his door to working with kids with special needs.
“Initially, I was really interested in music therapy. I thought there was a ton of great potential for it, and I thought maybe this would be my path and my calling. But God really began pulling my heart more to the ministry end of things because in any therapy setting, you’re limited in how much you can share your faith. . . . That drove me to want to learn more about how I could use my faith but also my gifts and abilities in music to help work with these people who God has placed in my path.”
Many factors played a part in the creation of this new ministry, including Cameron’s involvement in a special needs resource center in Red Deer. That’s where he first began wondering whether it would be possible to integrate the therapy models he was learning about with opportunities to share the love of Jesus with kids and their families.
Looking around, he realized that there weren’t many local churches that were offering any type of inclusion or special adaptation for children with special needs within their Sunday schools.
Skip’s Place, which launched in January, is held Saturday mornings at Knox Presbyterian Church. It combines a traditional Sunday school model with a variety of adaptations tailored for special needs kids, including accessible lessons, hands-on, mulitisensory learning, a calming “Snoezelen” tent (for sensory stimulation), and lots of family support.
“We try to have something special each week like homemade cookies or handwritten notes to bless the moms or families who bring the kids,” Cameron explained. “Disability in general often has this stigma of loneliness and isolation. I think it’s important to have that sense of community. It’s a simple thing, but it’s invaluable how much it means to people just to have someone who will talk to you or think enough of you to send you a note or call to see how you’re doing.”