Do you know what God’s plan is for children with disabilities?

God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose Romans 8:28. That calling includes disabilities.

My name is Josie Strickler, the HEART director for CYT Kansas City, and this is My CYT Story.

One of my earliest memories about disabilities is when I was in grade school. I remember seeing students with disabilities every day. I did not consider them my friends as they were not in class with me. I do remember seeing them go into another classroom. I would watch the teacher gather them and turn and close the door.

When my daughter Halie Rae was born, it took only a few moments in the delivery room to experience the feeling that seemed to stop time and it brought me back to the vision of a closed door when I heard the words Down syndrome. I was terrified of what this meant for our daughters life. God soon filled me with His hope and I started questioning why the world had such low expectations for our special children. What was the purpose of that closed door? Was the door shut to keep kids with disabilities from us or was it a door to protect them from us?  I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more Psalm 71:14

Halie Rae in Beauty and the Beast
Halie Rae in Beauty and the Beast

We knew God had answered our prayers when we were invited to CYT. We were soon meeting new families and Halie was making new friends. Watching Halie Rae in her first CYT production was a miracle for our family. The kindness and compassion cast members displayed to Halie on stage was visible. We felt a strong presence of Jesus right beside us and trusting in his plans became very clear as he unfolded them right in front of our eyes.

I began working at CYT in 2006. It is an honor and a privilege to support children with disabilities. Meeting with new families and communicating with them on how to best support their child helps us learn about disabilities and how they may affect each individual in their own unique way. We take time to plan and prepare for each session. Our supportive environment developed the inclusion program long before we knew what it would be called. Inviting families and welcoming all children in a program that glorifies God is not difficult to do, it is the right thing to do. …with God all things are possible. Matthew 19:26.

Halie as a townsperson in Charlotte's Web
Halie Rae in Tom Sawyer

Jesus offers hope to us through the H.E.A.R.T.  (Helping to Encourage Awareness and Recognition in Theater) program as our students with disabilities grow in skills and perform at each showcase. They sign up for auditions and celebrate being part of a cast. They attend classes and rehearsals with committment and dedication. They develop character and grow spiritually as they participate in worship. Our stories and experiences are evidence of God’s Heart. We are blessed as we watch children with disabilities learn and develop their talents alongside children without disabilities. At CYT all children grow in the confidence they need to help them live the life God intended for them to live. Encouraging them to be the best they can be fills them with joy and fills their families with hope.

Halie Rae as a townsperson in
Halie Rae as a cake lady in Charlotte’s Web

Life is challenging for everyone and children with disabilities have many challenges every day of their lives that are caused by their disability. Today, many of our children are growing up experiencing many health concerns like anxiety and depression. Children with disabilities are no different. When my daughter Halie experienced anxiety and depression a couple of years ago, CYT never gave up on her. It was through prayer, worship and theater that carried her through the most difficult moments of her life. She learned to grow in her faith and she learned to trust God more than ever. Today, she is grateful for God’s healing and she prays every day and she seeks prayer for others. She lives her life trusting Gods plan for her life and future.

Our family believes that God’s plan for children with disabilities is to glorify Jesus as we minister to them. Through their needs we find opportunities to serve God and we are so grateful.

The H.E.A.R.T.  program at CYT is a blessing and a place where you can expect miracles!

You can contact Josie at heartcoordinator@cytkc.org


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