VIDEO: Youth Ministry & Kids With Disabilities
Interview with Zach Grant

In this video of the “Zachs”, our own Zach Gurick talks to regular Kindred author, Zach Grant, about how we practice youth ministry with kids with special needs.

This interview took place after Zach’s presentation at the Flagler Forum on Youth Ministry at Flagler College in St. Augustine, Florida. We’ll be releasing the video of some full presentations from the forum here on Kindred Youth Ministry in the coming weeks.


Zach Gurick: We just wrapped up the Flagler Youth Ministry Forum and we are sitting with Zach Grant, who is one of the Princeton grads, writer for Kindred, practicing youth ministry here with kids with special needs and also with neuro-typical students as well. What is something that stood out to you that you would love — you might be able to share this with 2 or 3,000 youth workers out there — I would love for them to hear this, that you learned from the last 24hrs?Youth Ministry & Kids with Disabilities - Zach Grant
Zach Grant:
Yeah, there were a lot of really valuable things that came out of this time and I feel like it was wonderful to learn as much from the wonderful speakers that we had, as well as just being here with the bunch of other youth ministers who are going to these things, working through them. We were in a wonderful kind of a breakout session about the mental health. I think that was probably where I was throwing around the word ‘neuro-typical’. And just talking with folks, it was, I sometimes feel like disability ministry seems like a niche ministry. It seems like something that, maybe churches might do out of their excess or if there is a particular, you know, special ministry opportunity to reach out to folks who has disabilities in the area.

But it was interesting because we are in these conference about mental health and that’s what we are discussing with other youth ministers. It was very interesting to hear how the tenor of the conversation in my church because of doing this ministry with kids with disabilities. The tenor of it was changed because people were kind of thinking about mental health or people that didn’t feel in the main stream cognitively, and so had generated these sensitivities and also for them to hear and get good feedback from the mental health side because that I have a lot of experience working with kids with disabilities but I think there is a lot of overlap. There is a lot of places where these things are clearly distinct, but I think they can speak to one another.

Zach Gurick: Yeah, you pointed out before how having kids with disabilities involved with typical neuro-typical students as well allows this space were the typical kids are more okay and more comfortable to be open or to reveal those things that might otherwise kept hidden? Tell us more a little more about that.

Zach Grant: Yeah one of the best things that I think it does is, that it really kind of undermines this idea of a normal kid or that I have to fit within this kind of paradigm on what is normal. And so kids can be very honest about, here is this thing that I am dealing with or I take medication for this particular mental… that you will never notice about me but I feel comfortable to reveal it to you because I understand that this is a place that can accept differences and we do that in a very visible way through this outreach to kids that would be in a special education class at the High School or might be in a self contained classroom where everybody is in a wheel chair. And so it helps kids understand – Boy! These are people that going to love me no matter what the world kind of puts on me in terms of a stigma or label. 

I understand that this is a place that can accept differences and we do that in a very visible way through this outreach to kids that would be in a special education class.

Zach Gurick: That’s fantastic. Well, you’re doing an amazing ministry here. Beautiful ministry that is touching lives far beyond, just this community so thank you for what you are doing and we really appreciate it.

Zach Grant: Thanks for putting this on.  It’s great to talk to you.