What Social Distancing Taught Us About Our Non Verbal Son’s Faith

From the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America’s Website:

Presvytera Melanie DiStefano discusses her family’s long term social distancing needs, made necessary by her son Michael ‘s autism. They were lonely times for her. But the trial has born fruit in terms of Michael’s spiritual growth.

To access the post:

What Social Distancing Taught Us About Our Non Verbal Son’s Faith

The Center for Family Care on the Archdiocese Website has also recently introduced a new ministry which focuses on Special Needs, which shares stories and insights helpful to people with disabilities and their families, friends, co-workers, neighbors, and those designated to assist them in their areas of need: Fully Human: The Special Call of Special Needs

The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America also has a You Tube page. Here is their You Tube Playlist Page: GreekOrthodoxChurch: Playlists

One can learn a lot about the Orthodox Church and her members from these videos. One of the Playlists is entitled: Comfort Food for Families: Reflections on Coronavirus:


St. Nicholas Program 2021: August 13 – 16: Faithful with Special Needs and Family

To access the webpage: St. Nicholas Program 2021: image

For individuals with special needs of all ages and their families!

August 13 -16

The St. Nicholas Program is designed for families with children with disabilities of ANY age to spend time together in an Orthodox Family Environment. The campers are introduced to camp life at All Saints Camp and the parents are given the opportunity to meet fellow Orthodox parents who are tackling the same challenges in today’s world.  We hope that SNP provides families with a welcoming environment to get away together and enjoy time in God’s creation.
The Schedule: Sensory friendly Daily prayer services, modified learning church school lessons, family workshops and discussions, family sports, crafts, singing, dancing, bon fires, hayrides, scavenger hunts, and swimming, just to mention a few of the activities.
Family Angels!
Each family will be assigned a St. Nick’s Angel. Your angel will become a part of your family for the duration of the program, providing aid in any way needed.

All aspects of the program are designed to give people with disabilities an optimal experience. Our staff is a mix of professional trained and hired staff. However, our non-professional staff is required to complete specialty training for working with individuals with disabilities.

Because of the camp’s rustic environment and natural setting individuals who transport themselves with the assistance of wheelchairs, crutches or walkers may need consultation for participation in the full four-day program. If the full four-day program is not an option, we are pleased to offer one-day programming. Please contact us if you are considering the one day program during which movement about the camp is more limited and accessible to those with physical challenges. 

Please feel free to contact our Executive Staff with questions or concerns.

Once an application is received one of our executive or medical staff will contact you to conduct an intake assessment to ensure we can accommodate the needs of your family to the best of our ability.

Families may wish to discuss the possibility of also attending one of our other camping programs Diocesan Church School Camp or Teenage Conference. Please contact us about these possibilities.

For youth younger than nine years of age, we offer our Mommy & Me/Daddy & Me program which is also capable of accommodating families with children with disabilities.

412-977-2010 (Phone)

Summer Kinard: 7 Best Practices for Therapeutic Homeschools

In addition to the 7 Best Practices, this Post provides a highly detailed list of educational resources for the children with disabilities. Summer Kinard has autistic children, and is also on the autism spectrum herself.   

To access the post:

Resource List for “They Shall All Know Me” Webinar on 7 Best Practices for Therapeutic Homeschools

This webinar was presented at the St. Raphael School Ancient Faith Speaker Series in January of 2020. The slide presentation (45 slides) is available on website.

Also here:

Click to access 7-best-practices-for-therapeutic-homeschool-.pdf


A Presentation by Bill Gaventa: “Hidden in Plain Sight – Spirituality, Disability, and Wholeness”

Bill Gaventa has been for some time a leading figure in the USA in the exploration of how to respond to disability in a spiritual way. He is a Christian pastor. This presentation is in-depth, 2 hours and 11 minutes long, given at Boston College in Massachusetts. If you choose to listen to it or even to read the transcript, you will learn a lot. The presentation on You Tube:

The transcript (37 pp.):

Click to access TranscriptGaventa-11.8.19.pdf

Bill Gaventa – About him and an extensive list of his talks and writings:   Faith Ability Religion and Disability Resources – Bill Gaventa

Also:  Faith Ability Religion and Disability Resources: Topics


Ancient Faith Podcast – Bobby Maddox interviews Summer Kinard concerning her new book “Of Such Is the Kingdom: A Practical Theology of Disability”

“But Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.’” -St. Matthew 19:14, NKJV


To Access the Publisher’s Listing:

Ancient Faith Store: “Of Such Is the Kingdom: A Practical Theology of Disability,” by Summer Kinard”

The Podcast:

Ancient Faith Podcast: Length: Bobby Maddex interviews Summer Kinard, the author of the new Ancient Faith Publishing book “Of Such Is the Kingdom: A Practical Theology of Disability.” Length: 44:11

*The first Orthodox Christian book that I know of that addresses disability in a thorough fashion*

From The Mighty: What Life Is Like for a Mom and Her 3 Kids With Down Syndrome

The Thompson children: Calli, Montana, and Skye.

What their mother says:

“Our children can do amazing things! My children are my world. They mean everything to me.”

11 year old Calli: “. . . She has the biggest heart when it comes to helping other children. . . .”  

8 year old Montana: “. . . She’s a tomboy! She loves playing in the dirt, working on cars and fishing. . . .”

5 year old Skye: “. . . He is your typical boy; he loves to play in the dirt, muddy water and climb anything and everything. . . .” (Read this: How Playing in Dirt Boosts Your Health)

To access the post:

What Life Is Like for a Mom and Her 3 Kids With Down Syndrome


ATTENTION! Register for the June 21 Webinar: Nurturing Independence in Families with Disabilities

To Register:

Nurturing Independence in Families with Disabilities: Webinar Registration


Panelists will offer their personal and professional lessons learned in a discussion of what healthy independence might look like in families with disabilities, including: the importance of helping each person grow more independent, with attention to their unique gifts and developmental trajectory, advice for keeping expectations for independence realistic and hopeful, and suggestions for practical communication and physical supports.

Moderator: Presvytera Melanie DiStefano -Resource Developer for the GOA Center for Family Care

Panelist: Summer Kinard, M.Div., Th.M., – Autistic Orthodox Christian author

Panelist: Annie V. Konidaris – Co-author of the book and CD “Sing Along with Thea Annie”

Panelist: Presvytera Nikoletta Livingston – Occupational Therapist


Jun 21, 2021 07:00 PM in Eastern Time (US and Canada)

From the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America’s Center for Family Care: Fully Human: The Special Call Of Special Needs


Landmines and Disability: the Efforts to Help and Ban, and our Holy Temples at Jesus’ Baptism Site

Here’s a story of a double amputee named Armin Kohli, from Switzerland, who rode his bicycle 4800 kilometers (3000 miles) to raise awareness concerning the danger of landmines. He cycled through 14 countries for 48 days, finishing at the banks of the Dead Sea in mid-November.

(from Al Jazeera- English, written by Iman Azzi)

The website: Landmine Marathon 

An excerpt of the article concerning the victims of landmines:

“According to the latest landmine monitor report from the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), released last week, nearly 30 per cent of the 5,751 victims of landmines in 2006 were children. Three-quarters of all victims were civilians.

 landmine victimsKohli is quoted as saying,

“Being disabled does not mean [landmine victims] cannot a have a normal life, they just need to receive proper assistance. Governments must reach out to the victims and support them.”

Four articles addressing landmines and disability:

Focus on Disability: Tackling the horror of landmines

Landmines and disability: a challenge faced together

From the International Red Cross: Caring for Landmine Victims. To access:

Click to access caring-landmine-victims-0863.pdf

Anti-landmines and disability rights movements commit to closer cooperation

Also: The International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL)


And also  Churches at Jesus’ baptism site made safe for visitors


From Forbes: For People With Disabilities, Asking For Help Carries Hidden Costs

It’s a process.

To access the article, from the Forbes Website, written by Andrew Pulrang:

For People With Disabilities, Asking For Help Carries Hidden Costs

Andrew Pulrang speaks from experience; he has had lifelong disabilities himself. He is a contributor to Forbes in regard to Disability and Inclusion. 

More from articles by Mr. Pulrang (there’s quite a few!); see also his About paragraph: Andrew Pulrang, Contributor | DIVERSITY & INCLUSION

A You Tube Video featuring Andrew on why legislation insuring the coverage if pre-existing conditions is crucial:

International Orthodox Christian Charities Funds Treatments and Solutions for Disabilities

Clinics in Ethiopia Combat Neglected Disease


IOCC funds clinics in Ethiopia which addresses a tropical disease prevalent in this country – Podoconiosis – which results in physical disability – being unable to walk. There are treatments for those who suffer with “Podo” which have helped those afflicted with it to resume the lives they led before developing  the disease. Also, shoes are provided which prevent Podo. Here are some stories about people whom IOCC has helped to beat Podo”

Steps to Stop Podo

Shoes Are Not Just for Fashion

New Hope for Amele

Do You Remember … ?

See also the You Tube Video on Podo following the articles.

IOCC has funded treatments and solutions for other disabilities as well in other countries as well:

Saving Eyes, Saving Lives

Can You Imagine Not Being Able to Hear?

Wheels for Any Occasion

Boosting Confidence One Child at a Time


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July 2021

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