As the nation’s largest faith and family experience for all ages, MegaFest continues to keep diversity and inclusion top of mind. Did you know that 1 in 68 children has autism spectrum disorder (ASD)? This disheartening statistic from the Autism Society is just one of the many reasons why MegaFest accommodates everyone, especially children with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). April is Autism Awareness Month. With the support of the MegaFest team, The Potter’s House (TPH) is the first church in the nation to partner with Best Buddies, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization serving those with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Even rain couldn’t dampen their spirits
On Sunday, April 2, The Potter’s House (TPH) teamed up with Best Buddies for an exciting Autism Awareness celebration. Everyone was encouraged to “go blue” and wear blue attire in support of autism. Despite rain and overcast weather diminishing blue skies, numerous children, youth, and adults proudly displayed their support in varying shades of blue. The phenomenal turnout for this celebration reflects the reverence that TPH and MegaFest cultivates for the autism population. A beautiful luncheon was organized in honor of Autism Awareness Month for those with IDD to enjoy. The “MegaFest selfie station” made another appearance, allowing participants to share the fun on their social media channels. This Sunday, April 9, weather permitting, the celebration continues to get bigger and better for the kids. There will be fire trucks, bounce-tastic games, and more. Check TPH Event page for more details coming soon!
Best Buddies for life
The mission of the Best Buddies organization is to serve people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), in the areas of one-to-one friendships, integrated employment opportunities, and leadership development. The IDD population includes people with autism, Down syndrome, Fragile X, Williams syndrome, cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury, as well as other undiagnosed disabilities. During the celebration, the state director, president, ambassadors, and participants of Best Buddies organization shared some insights with the MegaFest team and The Potter’s House (TPH) about their Best Buddies experience.
State Director Sharyn Casey oversees the Best Buddies Texas program. She’s excited to be a part of the organization, as it assists participants with securing employment, as well as improving their public speaking and communication skills, among other benefits. Sharyn affectionately called one of the Best Buddies Ambassadors “a pro,” as she has honed her public speaking and interviewing talents. The “pro” Sharyn was referring to was none other than Madeline. Madeline has been with the organization for four years, serving as the Best Buddies Ambassador for two years under the Southern Methodist University (SMU) chapter in Dallas, TX. Madeline said, “I am so blessed to have found Best Buddies.” The organization has allowed Madeline to attend a leadership conference in Indiana. When Madeline is not attending leadership and development conferences, she enjoys staying connected with everyone and having fun. Chris is another amazing Best Buddies Ambassador. He has been with the organization for five years. Chris said, “It’s been a lot of fun making great friends with everyone. My favorite part is meeting great people. I think everyone should get involved with Best Buddies.” Best Buddies Executive Ambassador Tyler has been with the organization for almost eight years under the SMU chapter. He enjoys attending events and connecting with people. Best Buddies President Taesung Kim has served the Plano East High School chapter for two years. Taesung said, “Within two years I saw the participant numbers increase from seven special ed. buddies to 22 special ed. buddies. Seeing the results after two years has had a profound effect on me. I always wanted to study medicine, but now I know what kind of medicine to study – neuroscience. Hopefully I can become a neurologist one day. The organization and the kids are truly inspiring.”
Every child can experience MegaFest
The Potter’s House (TPH) First Lady Serita Jakes has always revered the intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) community. Through Destiny World, TPH dynamic children’s ministry, First Lady Serita Jakes continues to forge strategic relationships with local and global nonprofit organizations, including Best Buddies. Destiny World accommodates children, ages 3 months to 13 years old, especially those with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Parents are encouraged to bring their children and youth to MegaKidz, as well as other MegaFest events, regardless of their disabilities. The youth population is served by the lively FireCode ministry during this summer’s conference, so be sure to check them out!
On Saturday, July 1, we invite you to join us for the Best Buddies Friendship Walk at Klyde Warren Park in downtown Dallas, TX. The MegaFest team will be there to help raise funds for Best Buddies International. Come for the walk; leave with hope for autism.
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