Over 40 children with special needs and their families gathered near Guildford for a four-day festival on 21-24 August, organised by St Saviour’s Church, as part of their accessible and inclusive ministry.
The Bishop of Dorking, Jo Bailey Wells went for one day of the festival and said:
“People sometimes ask about the challenges of faith, of believing in what we cannot see. Trekkers is one answer: that’s where I can hear and see with my own eyes what Jesus inspires, where Jesus is present, how Jesus is alive and active with blessing.
“A volunteer put it so well when saying she came to offer help but found she was the one receiving and being blessed by these beautiful children of God.”
St Saviour’s in Guildford has run a successful ministry for children with additional needs for over ten years. Every year they organise Trekkers Festival, a summer holiday club, during which the children flourish as they have fun, pray together and build friendships.
Over 40 children and their siblings will took part in a range of activities including music, cookery, drama, craft and painting. The older children led some singing and drama for the younger ones. They enjoyed a bouncy castle, swings, ball pond, sensory areas, football and a prayer tent. A fencing instructor from ‘Little Musketeers’ did a workshop with the children and there was a visit from some farm animals.
Parents were able to relax, in the knowledge that their children were safe and happy, with refreshments, foot spas, manicures and pampering, as well as reclining chairs for those who needed a well-deserved nap. Many of the parents, who have little time to themselves, express what a welcome break it is and an opportunity to share in the joys and struggles of raising children with special needs. ‘I would never have chosen the gift of autism, yet I wouldn’t now exchange it for the world’, said one mum. They are often profoundly affected by the love and care that they see in action at the festival and the faith of their children.
Organising Trekkers Festival is a huge but extremely rewarding undertaking for the St Saviours team. It involves coordinating over 60 volunteers in various roles, many of them teenagers and the children often form great friendships with them.
If you’re interested in finding out more visit St Saviour’s Church website and also their resource hub for running a successful special needs ministry - allbelong.co.uk.