Easter for neurodiverse children and young people

Published 20th March 2023 by Aike Kennett-Brown

Trish Hahn is the SEND coordinator for Messy Church, on our Specialists Support team. Trish runs a SEND Messy Church in Clacton-on-Sea and has a passion to make Messy Church a space where families can worship alongside their children and young people with additional needs and disabilities.

She writes…
The Easter story is one of the most important stories in the history of Christianity, and it is important to reach and teach our neurodiverse young people about its true meaning, beyond chocolate and the Easter bunny.

Through an ever-expanding network of resources available at our fingertips on the internet, we can create a wide range of ideas to engage with and help our young people understand the importance of faith and the awesome power of God’s love.

The clever use of visual aids, including audiobooks, YouTube songs, picture Bibles including the ‘Unofficial Bible for Minecrafters’ and cartoons can enable us as both parents and Messy Church team to explain the Easter story in an ability-appropriate and enticing way. It’s important to explain the meaning of Jesus’ death and resurrection in a way our young people can relate to and how it relates to their faith journey.

A bit of imagination with the use of Pecs cards (Picture Exchange Communication System) or Makaton symbols can also enable us to explain the importance of the Easter season and how it brings us into a time of hope and new beginnings. Additionally, we can explain the importance of those symbols associated with Easter, such as the Easter egg and spring flowers and how they represent new life and hope for the future.

Personally, I like to try and think outside the box in terms of resources I use for Messy Church SEND and I try to use different ways to communicate the power of Jesus’ love and how his love is at the centre of the Easter story. Using various props, songs, pictures or whatever I can find to engage our young people’s interest, enables me to explain to them that Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice was an act of love and how it serves as a pertinent reminder of how we should love one another “My command is this: love each other as I have loved you” (John 15: 12, NIV).

The Easter story is a great tool for us to utilise to illustrate the power of forgiveness and how it helps us to progress forward in our lives. By teaching our neurodiverse young people about the true meaning of the Easter story, we can help them to understand the significance of faith, what it may mean to them on a personal level as young individuals and the capacity for love for each other.

Trish is busy putting together a short ‘How to’ video with some top ideas of how to make a Messy Church more accessible for people with SEND. The BRF Messy Church team are launching this new ‘How to…’ series of short training videos on key issues facing Messy Church teams on Tuesday 18 April 2023.

Aike Kennett-Brown
BRF Messy Church ministry lead

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