Today marks the dawn of a new era in ministry to people with a disability.
Youthworks has this week launched "Youthworks Access', a new ministry that aims to work with churches and schools in Word ministry to children, youth and families affected by a disability.
This ministry is headed up by Anthony "Chucky' Chuck, the former Programs Team Leader at Youthworks Rathane Outdoor Centre. Anthony suffered a seriously spinal injury last year, and has been since confined to a wheelchair.
In his new role as Disability Ministries Coordinator, Anthony will review the current facilities across all of Youthworks to provide a clear action plan for improving the physical access to the buildings and to seek to remove any impediments to people with disabilities enjoying the centres, programs and training.
Mr Chuck will work with the existing WROK! holiday camp team to develop, and then multiply this ministry and other holiday camp ministries for children, youth and families affected by a disability.
He also will seek to develop the Youthworks "Horizon' school outdoor education program to make it easier to include children and youth, as well as explore options in running specialist school camps designed to bring together individuals with disabilities from various schools into the one program.
Funding is to be generated from many sources, including the established government and industry grants, as well as seeking funding from individuals and others, so as to provide an ongoing foundation for this ministry.
As another part of the role, Mr Chuck will create and develop networks of people who have a ministry to people with disabilities, in order to strengthen ties and to create new partnerships in this ministry.
Whilst Youthworks has long had a desire and passion for ministry to people affected by disabilities, it was not until Anthony Chuck's accident last year that a number of people were reminded of the pressing need for ministry to children, youth and families affected by a disability.
Jodie McNeill, Executive Director of Youthworks Outdoors, is excited about this new ministry: "Youthworks is greatly blessed to have a man on our team who has a passion for Word ministry, for outdoor ministry, and for youth and children’s ministry.
"Chucky also has been given by God access to many people who have given their lives to serving people with disabilities, and to others who have difficulty accessing many things that many of us take for granted."
This new ministry came about due to the commitment of some donors to fund the salary of Mr Chuck, plus the other related costs.
Already over $10,000 has been raised, but this is far short of the total needed to sustain this ministry into the future.