This year has been a roller coaster of blessings for the Autism Faith Network! Join us for a recap of the blessings of 2021!
Accessible Faith Initiative
We started off the year with the Accessible Faith Initiative in April. This initiative focuses on promoting autism awareness, acceptance and inclusion in faith-based communities all over the world. While our focus is primarily on autism, we share tips and resources that can help churches become more accessible for any disability.
COVID-19 caused us to make modifications to the program due to some churches offering only virtual services. To adapt, we came up with pandemic-friendly activity ideas and offered weekly spotlights on Facebook Live for participating churches. Topics included:
- What is Autism
- How to serve families affected by disability during a pandemic
- How to make your church more autism friendly
- Faith-based resources for special needs families
Participating churches decorated their places of worship in honor of Autism Awareness Month and hosted special education sessions with their members and staff. Each week in April, we hosted giveaways for items ranging from gift cards and educational materials to helpful sensory tools for disabled persons while attending church.
We also hosted two free webinars in April! Dr. Lamar Hardwick, Pastor of TriCities Church, also known as Autism Pastor, participated in a webinar with us on April 18th. He discussed his new book, “Disability and the Church: A Vision for Diversity and Inclusion,” and shared lots of insight as an autistic pastor. You can view the webinar with Dr. Hardwick here. The following week, we held a webinar with Salina Miller, Patricia Parker and Charisse (Nikki) Montgomery. They are the authors of the book, “We Dare Be Brave: African-American Moms and the Emotional Journey of Raising Children with Disabilities.” These ladies shared valuable tips for parents and also gave faith-based words of wisdom. You can view our webinar with them here.
We’ve been promoting autism awareness, acceptance and inclusion since 2016, but August 21, 2021 was our first anniversary as an official nonprofit organization! We celebrated by hosting our first Giving Campaign. The overwhelming generosity of our donors was one of the many blessings of 2021! Because so many people cheerfully gave, we were able to closeout the year with two new initiatives!
Manna from Heaven
In November, we launched the Manna from Heaven Initiative. This program provided gift cards for autistic persons in need of funds for a Thanksgiving meal. Twenty autistic persons each received a $50 gift card to a local grocery store for food!
We closed out the year with the Cheerful Giving Initiative in December. It was our pleasure to bless 23 autistic persons with sensory toys and tools during the holiday season. These tools included weighted blankets, sensory swings and more!
Needless to say, it’s been a busy year serving those with autism and their families. We are very grateful for all of your support! We are thankful for the blessings of 2021 and have even bigger hopes and dreams for 2022! May the new year bring joy, new opportunities and good health for you and your family.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Autism Faith Network Board of Directors