Andrea Roseman had taught preschool for years, but in the fall of 2012, she felt pulled in a different direction. She had gotten to know a woman named Shelby, who had Down Syndrome and attended Lynwood Baptist Church in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Although ladies in the church taught a class for those with special needs, Roseman knew that many teens and adults with special needs often live in isolation.
“When kids with special needs graduate from school, their social life falls away, which is hard on both them and their families,” explains Roseman.
Wanting to grow a special needs ministry beyond just a church class, in 2013, Roseman started offering monthly outings for adults and teens with special needs.
“We would go bowling or out to lunch to begin to connect these families outside of the church doors,” she says.
In 2014, the outreach added Saturday events that included the entire family. From there they began to host Mom’s Night Out to give caregivers a break, and for the past five years, they have offered a three-day summer camp akin to VBS.
Now officially known as Access Lynwood, the ministry hosts an annual fall bonfire that includes games, pumpkin painting and hayrides that are wheelchair accessible. In addition, the church partners with local schools to host a fair at which different governmental and social agencies man booths and meet with families about options for when their child turns 18.
“It’s just as important that we help these families with their physical needs as their spiritual needs,” says Roseman.
Debi Baker describes how Access Lynwood has been transformative for her daughter, Bethany.
“There are no words to explain the feeling of knowing Bethany has a group where she not only fits in, but is also loved and led into a deeper relationship with Christ on a level she can understand and apply to her life,” Baker testifies. “Access Lynwood allows us, as her parents, to take a deep breath and fully rest in the presence of God.”