By: Amy Vander Kamp

One of the most embarrassing moments for me in ministry happened at the end of last year while I was contacting in the school lunch room. I happened to stumble upon a student who was not only sitting alone, but was also one I'd never met! Excited about this new opportunity I sat next to her in the lunch room and said "Hi, how are you?" She responded with a blank stare in her eyes, so I quickly blurted out "Hola, como estas?" Somehow thinking that my high school Spanish class might actually come in handy at a time like this. She then looked at me and laughed as she signed something to me that clearly showed that she was indeed deaf.  Sadly, it took this experience for me to realize that we have a community of deaf students at our school that we never really attempted to reach out to beyond saying "hi." We knew they were there, however, we never intentionally invested our efforts into building relationships with them. It was one of those epic fail moments.

This experience caused me to stop and think: If we truly desire to reach out to each and every student in our community, then what groups of students are we not reaching simply because we don't know how to communicate with them? In this situation we were simply looking over a student group because it wasn't easy for me to communicate with them. Ironically, in this situation it was an easy fix, we already had someone on our team who knew ASL, so we intentionally created space within our programing for these students to connect with us. However, this situation made me stop and think even deeper: where else are we missing an opportunity to reach out to students in our communities simply because we don't easily know how to communicate with them?

The reality is this - there are many students in our communities that we can easily connect with, however there are also some students that it takes a bit of extra effort to reach. Are we willing to put in that little bit of extra effort in an attempt to reach every student in our community?

Take a moment to watch this video below to start the process of mapping out your community to find out which student groups you may not be connecting with in your community.

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