Six Instagram Accounts to Follow for Advocacy and Community, by Mary Thissen

Social media can be a double-edged sword. On one hand, what is shown on social media is notoften reflective of real life. On the other hand, if vulnerable enough, great relationships can be formed, and lifelong friends can be made over thousands of miles because of common connection.

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Instagram is one of the most popular social media platforms today, but how can we build

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authentic connection when it comes to being Catholic Special Needs parents? Fortunately, we are blessed with several great accounts on Instagram, Catholic and Non-Catholic alike, to accompany us on the journey of parenting our children. Here are six such accounts:

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1. Catholic Inclusion – Would you like your child with an intellectual disability to attend Catholic school, but the school isn’t equipped to handle the challenges that may come along? Catholic Inclusion comes beside Catholic schools and offers consulting, coaching and training for schools and teachers. There are also many amazing resources, including the Individualized Catholic Education Program. On Instagram, Scripture passages, scholarly articles, and tips for inclusive education are shared. Find them on Instagram @catholicinclusion.

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2. National Catholic Partnership on Disability (NCPD)- NCPD’s mission is “Promoting the

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Meaningful Participation of Persons with Disabilities in Church and Society”. NCPD seeks to address and include persons with all kinds of disabilities, including Autism, Mental Illness, Intellectual and Developmental Disorders, and Vision/Hearing Disorders. On Instagram, a plethora of resources and events are shared, such as online courses, newsletters, virtual meetings and publications. Find them on Instagram @ncpd_catholicdisability.

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3. Accepting the Gift – we can’t write about great Instagram accounts without including our own! Accepting the Gift “provides resources and support to Catholic parents of disabled children, with a focus on faith, encouragement, community, and awareness.” They highlight their religious education curriculum, quotes from the saints, and the need to have all children included in Catholic Religious Education. Our founder, Kelly, said it best in a recent post: “My goal is to work so hard that we make the need for this ministry obsolete. But until every child, and every adult, with disabilities is welcomed, included and respected as a whole person, we’ll be here advocating and aiding parents to fight.” Find us on Instagram @acceptingthegift.

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4. Witness to Dignity- Do you have questions about how your church, ministry or private school can fully include those with a disability? If so, Witness to Dignity can help. They offer coaching and an online-based subscription library of videos with education and inclusion of various disabilities. There are also resources on prayer, sensory-friendly ministry and a Religious Education Lesson Plan Template. On Instagram, they share encouraging posts, practical tips and information about special events. Find them on Instagram @witness.to.dignity.

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5. The Special Needs Mom Podcast – Kara is a special needs mom and life coach with a podcast.She coaches moms to have confidence as they face their lives as a special needs parent. On Instagram, she shares clips from her podcast and a glimpse into her life as a special needs mom, which she hopes is “creating a safe space for tired hearts to find peace, joy, and restoration.” Find them on Instagram @thespecialneedsmompodcast.

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6. Labeled and Loved- This is another great organization that focuses on caring for moms of

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children with disabilities. Their programming includes an Annual Retreat (non-religious), Sisterhood Circles and a Faith and Friendship group, currently ministering to Christian mothers. On Instagram, you can get information about in-person events, get to know volunteers, and even find a link to purchase

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merchandise. Find them on Instagram @labeledandloved.

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In today’s world, social media can be both overwhelming and isolating, but as we see with these accounts, it doesn’t have to be this way. Awareness of disabilities is becoming heightened in our worldand genuine friendships are budding all because someone created an account on social media. Let us then be good stewards of the gift God has given us to advocate for our children and know we are never alone in this journey.

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Mary Thissen is a St. Louis native living in East Central Illinois with her husband and children. She is blessed with twin boys Earthside and four children now living in Heaven. When she is not working as a healthcare data analyst or caring for her boys, she enjoys studying and writing about the Catholic faith and ministering to women who are suffering through miscarriage or infertility. As the mother of recently diagnosed children with special needs, Mary is learning to advocate for her children and seek out connections with other parents going through the same. You can connect with Mary on Instagram @waitingonmiracles.

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