West Central Texas Regional Foundation — Inclusive Faith Based Communities Symposium

Inclusive Faith Based Communities Symposium

  • Impact
    • Four symposiums and 10 workshops were held to present best practices and misperceptions regarding people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) in faith-based organizations (FBO)
    • Survey results showed that communities in Jones, Callahan, and Taylor Counties became more aware of the need for inclusive and accessible programming for persons with IDD
    • Volunteers were trained in leadership, marketing, outreach, assessing evaluations, technical assistance, general advocacy, and overall preparation for holding symposiums and workshops
    • Parents of persons with DD were able to connect with faith and community-based organizations that had services and resources that were helpful in their life

Statewide Need
Faith communities may have issues, questions, and concerns that affect their ability and willingness to welcome and fully include people with IDD. Many faith communities in Texas have done a great deal to advocate for and serve the needs of Texans with IDD. Many are interested in networking and connecting with other organizations to receive training and assistance to provide an environment and services that would allow them to be more inclusive.

Project Goal
Facilitate collaboration between faith leaders to compare experiences and share resources so that community supports available to people with IDD may be increased. Fully include people with disabilities in faith-based communities through networking, online tools, and in-person events.

Project Summary
The West Central Texas Regional Foundation’s project selected a Project Advisory Committee (PAC) comprised of individuals with different backgrounds, areas of expertise and interest in serving the community. The PAC and the Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC) worked collaboratively to develop a Self-Evaluation Survey for FBOs to determine their level of inclusiveness and barriers. This information was leveraged in the creation of an online directory to help persons with IDD find FBOs that met their needs. The directory included a total of 43 FBOs.

The project marketed and hosted four symposiums and 10 workshops to present best practices in inclusion and misperceptions regarding persons with IDD and FBOs. Training activities including guest speakers were held for faith leaders and others to assist in providing training and information to their congregations.

Project staff developed a number of partnerships, by visiting FBOs and leaving resources and brochures to use as tools in inclusion efforts. Partners donated space to hold symposiums and events. Partners also presented at workshops focused on training individuals to create more inclusive classrooms and on the importance of welcoming environments in faith communities.

The network SHINE (Start Here Inclusive Network for Everyone) was established through project staff guidance, and consisted of 46 members, including faith-based leaders, community partners, persons with DD, family members, and PAC members. PAC members and partners were trained and provided materials which would allow them to take leadership roles to continue the project after the grant expired.

Project Period
Feb 2012 – Jan 2015

3702 Loop 322
Abilene, TX 79602

Geographic Reach
Callahan, Jones and Taylor counties

Texas map highlighting Callahan, Jones and Taylor counties