About 50 million Americans report having a disability. Most Americans will experience some form of disability sometime during the course of their lifetime.

Disabilities can effect people in different ways, even when individuals have the same type of disability. Words matter when you are talking with someone with an obvious mental or physical disabilities they are very sensitive to what they are hearing.

A person with an emotional or behavioral disability is very sensitive to words like insane, crazy, psychotic, manic or nuts. Individuals with physical disabilities are bothered by the looks they get or by people not thinking they are capable because they are judged immediately.

These individuals will have difficulty striving to be the best person they can be if all they hear is negative comments. We must all strive to dwell in the positive not the negative to reach the desired outcome for these community members.

Have you ever heard the statement if you are not part of the solution you are part of the problem? All my life I have tried to be a positive person and when I come across a person with a problem I try to turn a negative into a positive.

My wife and I have been going to the same church since the fourth grade. We try to live our faith and quite frankly have dealt with some huge setbacks as have many of you. Without the faith and support of this church, I’m not sure we could have survived these hard times. We have always had a faith community to pick us up when the daily life occurrences were just too much to deal with. The same thing is true for a young adult who has questions about being different or why it takes longer to complete a task.

Special Olympics has given these individuals an option. They compete against other young adults with similar problems and are very successful and proud of their accomplishments. I have coached Special Olympic athletes for over 40 years and have seen firsthand the effort and accomplishments of these challenged athletes that has changed their lives.

When we started a Sunday School class at St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran church near Littlestown of mentally and physically challenged young adults, I wasn’t sure what to expect. It didn’t take long for me to see the potential of this group. We started with ushering once a month and providing an acolyte to start and end the Sunday service. From there we have provided assistant ministers, readers, prayers, and giving the sermon. In the fall we will attempt to have special music. We have assisted other churches in the area and continue to expand our mission. The other side of this is discussion is how this mission has affected the self — esteem of the class members of the group and how is has impacted them and the some of the 50 percent of un-churched people in Adams County.

The Arc of Adams County would like to invite you all to join us on Sept. 21, for the Fabulous Hubcaps. Please visit our website www.arcadamspa.org for more information. Questions or concerns, please contact The Arc at 717-677-8487.

Don Bair is a board member of Arc of Adams County.

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