Adults with intellectual disabilities played games, shared snacks, laughed together, and enjoyed fellowship at Immanuel Christian Reformed Church in Ripon, Calif., on March 14. Leaders and mentors of the congregation’s Friendship Group hosted the first ever carnival for their friends. Friendship MInistries is supported by the Christian Reformed Church for people with intellectual disabilities.
Approximately 30 people participated in activities such as throwing a baseball to knock over milk cans or tossing a basketball into a hoop. They tried to win cakes at the “Cake Walk” by walking around a numbered circle while music played. When one person in a wheelchair was unsure about participating, co-leader Geri Witt encouraged her by saying, “This is your game! This is your chance to win.”
Each participant went home with prizes and gift cards to local department stores. Witt said, “The best part was seeing everyone smiling and relaxing and having fun together.”
Volunteers from the church and community hung up banners, served snacks, painted faces, and interacted with participants. Fifth-grade girls from a local Girl Scout troop led many of the games. “They were thrilled to attend,” said Witt. “Without their help, it would have been a lot different.”
Witt and Christy Hager, a member of Immanuel CRC and disability advocate for Classis Central California, have led the Friendship Group since 2012. “I love the encouragement and love that they share; both the friends and the mentors,” said Witt. “[This is] a place where [Friendship Group members] can see their friends away from their group homes.”