Greensboro church offers ‘Buddy Break’ for parents of special needs children

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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Being a parent is a demanding responsibility for anyone.

But for parents of special needs children, their time and attention is even more critical.

Now, a program in the Triad is giving those parents a much-deserved break.

For the third Saturday out of each month, West Market Street United Methodist Church offers “Buddy Break,” a program that is available nationally in association with Nathaniel’s Hope.

Through Buddy Break, parents of children with special needs can bring their kids to a designated location, and for three hours, children with disabilities and their siblings are paired with a buddy.

“We play up on the roof with water, we have an arts and crafts room, we have a music room, we have a sensory room, and it’s just the most incredible three hours,” Sarah Gray, Buddy Break director at West Market Street United Methodist Church, said

Volunteers say in that short time, lasting memories have been made.

"A 7-year-old little girl pretty much wore me out,” Senior Pastor Dan Martin and Buddy Break volunteer said.

"And it was probably the best feeling of being tired of my entire life,” he added.

Many of the children require 24-7 care.

The three hours allows parents to experience a break that is rarely available.

"We've had parents go canoeing, parents go home to sleep,” Ginger Shields, director of Family Ministries, said.

"We're diminishing that boundary between people with disabilities and everybody else,” Gray said.

Although the event is housed at West Market Street United Methodist Church, Buddy Break is open to anyone in the community.

This is currently the only operating location in the Triad.

In August, apart from the Buddy Break program, the church established Sunday School classes for children with special needs to allow their parents to attend worship service.

The next Buddy Break event is Oct. 17 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Registrations are required.

Click here to register.

All volunteers are trained and are required to undergo a background check.

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