Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Village Research Project

I have not written much about the new research project we are launching. I call it, "It takes a whole village" project because we are trying to find out exactly how to best support and empower parents of Special Needs Children. The African Proverb, "It takes a village to raise a child" was used by Senator Hillary Clinton as the title for her book on education and health care a few years ago.

I agreed with Mrs. Clinton then and now. It is important to remember that the family system, neighborhood and community are all important in giving a child what she needs to be a healthy, contributing member of society. Our values are caught not just taught.

When a child comes into the world with a disability of some sort, the parents and extended family members are put into situations of stress that are greater than the normal stresses of parenting. There are many services, support systems and opportunities for Special Needs kids but almost nothing for the parents.

Our research will look at what exists now and what the parents in our study think would be helpful to them as they rear their child. We shall, at the end, develop ideas about ways we and local churches can more effectively come around these families and help them find peace, refreshment and better ways to lead their families.

If you have suggestions, write me.

Gary Sweeten

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