New club aims to help disabled youth | ParkRecord.com

New club aims to help disabled youth

It hasn’t taken long for Park City Young Life’s new venture to be a hit.

To hear Rob Anderson, area director for the organization, tell it, that shouldn’t be too surprising. Young Life in December held the first meeting of its local Capernaum Club chapter, which allows children and young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities to participate in activities and form friendships with the group’s leaders and other special-needs people.

Anderson said many families with special-needs children move to Park City for the diverse activities the town offers. So he wasn’t shocked when the idea of starting the Capernaum Club quickly took hold.

After months of training leaders, the club’s first meeting was a success, Anderson said. Activities included singing Christmas carols and decorating the faces of volunteer leaders like Christmas cookies.

"It was an amazing first club," he said, adding that the club is for people ages 12 to 26. "Everybody was just beside themselves on how much fun it was. The kids were amped up and I think it’s going to end up being a really awesome thing."

While there is a non-denominational religious aspect to the club — its name comes from a biblical town in which Jesus is believed to have ministered — Anderson said one does not have to be religious to attend the meetings. The message that’s emphasized is that God loves people with disabilities for who they are, regardless of whatever limitations they may have.

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"What we’ve found with these kids is they get it," he said. "They understand that a lot of times faster than an able-bodied kid."

Though the club is new, Anderson has already seen what it can do for disabled people. He said they light up when other people want to become involved in their lives.

"When someone shows interest in them, it can change their lives so quickly," Anderson said.

However, the participants with disabilities aren’t the only ones who are realizing how special the club can be.

"It puts life into perspective real quickly," Anderson said. "When you get caught up in stuff or wanting this or that, but then you spend a little time with a kid who has trouble communicating or difficulty with simple tasks in their daily lives, and you see how full of joy they are, you remember what is important. You quickly find that you think you’re serving them, but you’re the one getting the gift."

For now, the club will hold one meeting every month, with the possibility of having them more frequently in the future. The next one is set for Jan. 18, from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Christian Center of Park City.

"It’s been a total dream realized to start Capernaum," Anderson said. "We’re really excited about how it’s going to grow in 2015."

For more information on Young Life or the Capernaum Club, visit parkcity.younglife.com.