Driving through an obscure Oxfordshire village last week I missed my turn and thus had to use a farm gateway to turn around. Having driven in, I had to wait before reversing back onto the road as there was a car coming. I duly waited and was highly amused was that it was my old car I was given way to, weird?
Long term reader(s) of this blog will know that blogging is not the only interest in my life, I also have a healthy (or unhealthy according to JT) interest in sheds, or at least an appreciation of their usefulness.
Anwyway the collection has now grown! I heard rumours of a perfectly good 6x4 that was going to be burned as it was surplus to requirements. Taking inspiration from Donkey sanctuarys who take in unwanted donkey's to live out their twilight years in a happy & mellow Equus nirvana, I thought why not a shed sanctuary? Why not! So off I went on a rescue mission ..........
The shed was in a neglected and undernourished state when I rescued it but after a generous feeding of Creosote (substitute) and some minor shiplap replacement surgery it is again delighting in its rejuvenated shediness. I am putting it in the top area of the sanctuary alongside a budget 5x7 which is undergoing some renovation to it's inadequate mdf flooring.
For further information about the National Shed Rescue Sanctuary or indeed to visit the Museum of Garden Outbuildings, send an e-mail
I was looking through t'internet for a picture to illustrate this piece and I found myself chuckling as shed manufacturers seem to have this obsession with artfully placing a few items outside of the shed to illustrate some of it's uses. (I find this as bizzare as serving suggestion photos on cornflake packets). This one was particularly chortle worthy as I think it suggests that the owner has taken their wellies off before entry the sheddy of sheddies!
Sort notice I know but May 31st in the EXPO day for FUSION. It's in Thame (details here). If you want to know about community festivals and community (and faith) based work with young people theen this is well worth going to.
Over the next few days I'm going to be posting more about disability inclusion, looking from three different perspectives: The parents, the young people and the youth leader. It's taken a while to do because some of this stuff is painfully close to home for me and also because I didn't want to assume my experience (and that of H) was normative. I've been very fortunate though that Will, from a wonderful organisation called PALS, has provided significant and substantial input. I'm hoping that these pieces with the addition of comments from other practitioners, could be a useful resource:
There is a fear of leaving their child with someone they don't know very well. For a lot of the kids they have never been anywhere except school without their parents so the parents are unsure whether the leader will know how to look after their child.
It means the world to parents to see their child accepted, valued and known for who they are.
Parents worry that their child won't fit in and often get embarrassed about some of the things that their child can't do that their able bodied peers may be able to do with ease.
There are often two extremes of parents. Those that think their child is unable to do anything on their own and will need someone to do everything for them, and those who won't admit that they do have some needs. (There are also parents in the middle)
Some parents don't want them attending mainstream activities as they feel they can only mix with people with disabilities. And some want them attending only mainstream activities so that they don't live their life as a 'professional disabled' person. Actually a mixture of the two is needed. They do need times with people with other disabilities as it's a great chance to practice skills in a safe environment and many realise they are not the only ones with needs and sometimes they might need to help others. At the same time they do need to mix with their able bodied peers because most of the people they will meet in their life won't have a disability.
It's VERY important to talk, listen and discuss with parents BUT that doesn't mean it's not vital to listen to the young person. Many parents get into the habit of talking for their child. A youth group can be a fantastic place for them to grow, learn and explore who they are (in the same way as an able bodied young person).
Parents are usually happy to negotiate and discuss to find ways of making activities work and recognizing that some are not suitable.
Jonny Baker has posted a review of Chrysalis by Alan Jamieson. I was really struck by this reflective list on aspects of a journey to a deeper faith, it's a list which really resonates with my (ongoing and developing) experience:
from black and white to an embrace of black and white and greys
from dependence to interdependence
from answers to mystery and childlike wonder
from doing to being (a deep sense of being accepted by god)
from playing a role to a new giving of self for others
from trust in external authorities to an integration of internal and external voices
from effortful faith to resting faith
from martha's faith to faith that expresses mary's heart and martha's hands
from needing leaders to co-discerning with others
from external truth to communal and paradoxical truth
I think this would be an interesting list to hold alongside our youth ministry programmes for reflection.
Bishop Gavin Reid has been delivering some input to the DYO conference and was reflecting that there is only one section of the Old Testament that directly relates to youth work. The passage in question being from Second Kings:
23 From there Elisha went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, some youths came out of the town and jeered at him. "Go on up, you baldhead!" they said. "Go on up, you baldhead!" 24 He turned around, looked at them and called down a curse on them in the name of the LORD. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the youths. 25 And he went on to Mount Carmel and from there returned to Samaria.
His reflection being that in a culture which was built around multi-generational family, this is the only example of young people being together as a peer group!
I was quite amused by the idea of this obscure episode being the only directly applicable Old Testament reference to work with young people. A bit of trawling around also revealed this passage to be among Cracked dot coms most bad-ass Bible verses.
So ............... don't 'mess' with Prophets!
Peter Kays list of 35 universal truths has been circulating the web for a few years but it still makes me laugh 'cos of it's well observed shared experiences. May favourites are:
Triangular sandwiches taste better than square ones.
Despite constant warning, you have never met anybody who has had their arm broken by a swan
One of the most awkward things that can happen in a pub is when your pint-to-toilet cycle gets synchronised with a complete stranger.
You've never quite sure whether it's ok to eat green crisps.
Rummaging in an overgrown garden will always turn up a bouncy ball.
Everyone always remembers the day a dog ran into your school.
Anyway, re-encountering this list this morning made me wonder about ther universal truths of youth work. What generalisations would resonate with nearly everyone's shared experience of youth work? This is what I shall be pondering today when the conference I am at is running beyond my attention span BUT I'd love your ideas .........
I love this, Flava are a teenage dance group that appeared on Britians Got talent this weekend and were really well received. You can watch the video here.
What was really encouraging though were Simon Cowell's comments:
"You have done one thing incredible, you've just made hoodies acceptable. I love that you have done it yourself, you are raw talent and you are as good as what I've seen in America. There a lot of people getting a hard time in this country at the moment, particularly young people and I just think you are an incredible representation of the good that is out there"
I'm hanging our near Ipswich for a few days at the annual gathering of all the Diocesan Youth advisers. It'll be a great opportunity for theology, prayer, laughter and perchance the odd beer! I've also got the racer with me for a little high speed down time, Oh Yeah!
If you are in the mood an absurd feel-good piece of pointless video then look know further.
(although I admit that if you were to pitch this as a film concept then interest for close ups of people blowing raspberries to an operatic accompaniment wouldn't make it further than the Tate Modern). Ht to Chris
This is the work of genius, possible skewed genius, but definitely genius!
I am passionate about youth ministry being inclusive not exclusive, and groups being a community of difference not a collective of sameness. This does however require an intentionality, a flexibility and an openness ..... it also means additional challenges in the outworking of this, but at the same time often leads to a greater depth, learning and understanding in the experience of the group. (I will step down from my youth-work Soap Box now)
In terms of being welcoming to young people with additional needs or disabilities though, what does this mean?
From a legislative point of view it means looking at and amending policies and practices that would prevent someone with a disability taking part. It also means being willing to make "reasonable adjustment" to enable someone with additional needs to participate.
In many ways this is a natural outworking of our faith, and I see lots of Church groups that extend a welcome and a value to all, offering a place of being and belonging to all sorts of young people who otherwise may be marginalised. I've also been blessed, encouraged and helped by the welcome my son has received in so many places.
I do think though that it requires an intentionality, flexibility and openness. What I want to try and write then is something from the point of view of disabled young people and their parent(s), something that is practical and helpful. I am however finding it hard to write, So think of this post as the 2nd Indiana Jones film, i.e not very good but paving the way for a great part 3!
Last night I was helping a group of leaders from various youth groups in a Church to look at a number of issues and help them explore ways forward. (*laughing* I think I just lapsed into consultant speak, eeeek). As a way in, I got them to shout out all the aspects of the work where they found Joy and Fun, then to list the aspects that were a source of heaviness.
It proved a useful exercise to work from BUT I especially loved how passionate and energetic they were about the aspects of youth ministry where they encountered joy and fun. This is their two minute shout out .......
Relationships, buzz, crowd, laughter, noise, quiet, eating together, sharing, talking,
being challenged, new thoughts, team, energy, the privilege.