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Bayside Church has place for children of all abilities

Bayside's special needs programs for kids and teenagers open to church members and non-members alike
By: Sena Christian, The Press Tribune
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Dan Adragna went through what he calls a “faith-building experience” following a terrible toxic blood infection he contracted in 1995. His entire system began failing and his heart stopped four times. He developed gangrene in his toes and fell into a coma for six weeks. When he awoke, he weighed 86 pounds. “It’s really a miracle story,” Adragna said. “I woke up out of a coma and my legs were gone. But I was alive.” He said hundreds of friends and family prayed for him to recover from the life-threatening septic shock condition, which he did. He felt their prayers had been answered. Although the infection left him mobility-impaired with two prosthetic legs, Adragna didn’t ask “Why me?” “Honestly, I felt so blessed to be alive,” Adragna, now 54, said. “I felt extremely grateful, which is kind of strange I guess … I want to use this to my fullest extent and find what God wants me to do.” He found his answer by leading the Through the Roof ministries at Bayside Church in Granite Bay. The program offers several ministries for people affected by physical, developmental, sensory or cognitive disabilities. On Friday evening, the program hosted an open house to encourage local residents — church members and non-church members alike — to take advantage of these ministries devoted to children with special needs. The event coincided with the start of October as National Disability Employment Awareness Month, designated by U.S. Congress in 1988 to draw attention to the contributions and skills of American workers with disabilities. About 150 kids and parents enjoyed Erik the Magician, ice cream sundaes, live music and games featured at the event, intended to raise awareness about the church’s Friday Nite Kidz Klub and Lighthouse Teenz Klub. Bayside Church also offers a “Safe Harbor” classroom for children with special needs during all weekend services, except one on Sundays. During summer, the church hosts a one-week summer camp for these children. Kidz Klub takes place for three hours on the first Friday of every month and gives parents a chance to drop off their children with special needs at the church. Siblings up to age 14 are also welcome. Volunteers, including nurses, therapists and special-education teachers, attend to the children, who get a chance to play games and interact with each other. The time also gives parents a break each month to do whatever they want. “We really value marriage and we hope this helps where a couple can get out with each other,” Adragna said. “Having a child with special needs is 24/7, 365 days a year. They rarely get a break.” Bayside’s Director of Special Needs Marcy Spina said one mom told her she liked cutting her grocery bill in half by going shopping alone — without her two little sons grabbing everything they could get their hands on. Spina joined Bayside Church part-time in 2006 as she worked in the City of Roseville’s adaptive recreation program, which has since been axed. A few months after starting, she asked Adragna about what they should do to better serve teenagers with special needs. “You’ve got to be careful what you say around me,” Adragna said. “I come up with ideas.” Later that year, Through the Roof developed a social club for teenagers, called Lighthouse Teenz Klub. The youth play organized games, work on craft projects and hear an inspirational message. They come from throughout the greater Sacramento region and usually a couple dozen attend each event. “We have room for more and we would like more,” Spina said. “We know there’s more out there.” As kids become older, she said, they often turn into wallflowers and feel ostracized by their peers and have a hard time finding a place of acceptance. But Teenz Club gives them the opportunity to develop friends, while having fun. Spina, who runs the program, knows what it’s like to have a disability. In 1994, she experienced an accident working as a recreational therapist at in-patient psychology at Sacramento County Mental Health. A problem with a male patient involved a physical take down that left Spina injured. She hurt her back and neck, had one surgery and underwent five months of physical therapy. “My doctor said this is something I’ll always have to live with,” she said. “But I didn’t want to believe it.” Spina has been deemed 27 percent disabled and still feels pain when she’s on her feet too much. But, she said, in the struggle, she “saw God’s hand push me forward” to work in Bayside’s special-needs program and she hopes the ministries continue to grow. Sena Christian can be reached at senac@goldcountrymedia.com. ---------- Friday Nite Kidz Klub: 6:15-9:15 p.m. on the first Friday of the month in the children’s building at Bayside Church, 8181 Sierra College Blvd. Families with at least one children with a special need are welcome. Siblings up to age 14 are also welcome. For more information, contact Stephanie Solomon at (916) 435-3653 or visit www.throughtheroof.info. Lighthouse Teenz Klub: 6:30-9:00 p.m. on the first Friday of the month at the Rip Tide room, Bayside Church office building at 8211 Sierra College Blvd. suite 440. Ages 12 to 20 years old are welcome. For more information, contact Marcy Spina at (916) 791-1244 ext. 8533 or visit www.throughtheroof.info.