By Sheldon Sweeney
A new apostolic project puts boys’ creativity at the service of Down Syndrome children and their families.
October 22, 2008. Maple Valley, Washington. Finding an apostolic project for a Conquest team is not always as easy as it looks, but the effort paid off in Maple Valley, where one group’s inspiration became an initiative bearing promising fruits.
This summer, the Conquest boys and their team leaders were brainstorming about what apostolate to undertake for the year. The topic of special needs children kept coming up, and everyone was enthusiastic about it. So, they approached a local community center to introduce their group and propose their idea of running a special needs children’s program for kids ages 5 to 10 in their community.
The boys’ initiative was to offer a monthly 3-hour period where families could bring their special needs children to the community center for “Funquest” games and activities organized by Conquest boys, with dads to supervise. The executive director of the community center was enthusiastic about the idea and warmly approved the project.
Their first opportunity to serve came on Saturday, October 11th. Three families brought their special needs children, who had a great time playing with the boys. The club members are now developing a flier to present to the local school district for additional exposure.
The good news is also spreading by word of mouth through the moms who brought their children to that first session. Some of them sent in comments to the King County Down Syndrome e-mail broadcast, which reaches about 300 subscribers.
One of the mothers, Carla Snyder, commented on the boys’ creativity with the games they invented for the children.
“It was a great time! All of the boys totally focused on the kids and played along with whatever they wanted to do. They were a very creative group of young men. I’m not sure if even Cecile’s specialist at her school could come up with some of their ideas with the play mats. It was very nice to just let the kids play so I could have a nice visit with Ruth. Cecile and I can’t wait till the next one,” she wrote.
Another mother, Ruth Pomerantz, said: “Zack had a fabulous time at the Maple Valley Community Center with the Conquest boys’ group playing with the children! It gives us moms a break to visit and the children have a wonderful time playing.”
Sheldon Sweeney, the Conquest Leader for the Maple Valley group, said the apostolic project was a good fit not only for the boys, but also for the community at large.
“We are open to the direction of the Holy Spirit as this apostolate grows. Fortunately the Community Center is also open to watching a service such as this grow and adapt to what can best serve these children and their families in our community,” he said.