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Community bands together to host special needs Easter egg hunt

Several South Cheatham County organizations worked together to host an Easter egg hunt at Pegram Park on Saturday, March 30 for the special needs community.

Courtney Steed, family outreach minister at Pegram Church of Christ (PCOC), brought the idea to the South Cheatham Ministerial Association (SCMA) six weeks ago, and she said the response for support was “overwhelming.” 

The event was made possible by more than 40 volunteers on the day of the hunt from various South Cheatham organizations, including the Ark and the Town of Pegram / Courtney Steed

“I have a special needs niece,” Steed said. “[I learned] that a lot of these community events, like Easter egg hunts and trunk-or-treats, don't typically work for special needs kids. That's always been something that I've held in the back of my head. How do you create an event that really is inclusive for special needs kids?” 

Steed explained that South Cheatham schools have a great program for special needs kids, but once they leave the schools, there’s not much the community offers for young adults. 

“In order to make that specific type of event, a special needs-specific event, we needed it to be something that was not a race,” Steed explained. “We did a limit on the eggs so there was not a rush to the eggs. We did a non-race start, so that meant it's a come and go.”

Steed explained that, often, special needs kids cannot participate in the Town of Kingston Springs Easter egg hunt, which is a race, because of the over-stimulating environment.

“How it ended up was so calm and peaceful,” Steed said.

Steed said that the SCMA – in partnership with PCOC, the Town of Pegram, the Ark, the local schools, and the Kingston Springs Church of the Nazarene – collected clear eggs so the parents could see what was inside. 

“One big thing I've heard a lot is that for some special needs kids, can't they can't do chocolate, or they can't do certain size toys, or they can't do some hard candies, or they can't do some dyes,” Steed said. “Not all of them, but the majority of them, were packed in these clear eggs so that they could see what it was and the parents could choose to not pick it up.” 

Steed said they laid out around 5,000 eggs. In total, around 100 people showed up – more than half of them volunteers. The ages of the Easter egg hunters ranged from 2 to 50-years-old. 

The event was modeled after those in neighboring cities, like Dickson, where special needs families can come and go as they please. The Easter egg hunt is not a race. / Courtney Steed

Steed said she plans to continue to host events for special needs children and their families in South Cheatham, but is currently working to build more trust. 

“Once we [build] that [trust], which I hope we’ll do this year by having a couple of different events like this, then hopefully they will feel confident in letting us create some other events for them,” Steed said. 

PCOC will be holding an inclusive trunk-or-treat indoors on Halloween at the church building from 5 to 7 p.m. Steed said they are also looking at how they can make their Vacation Bible School – to be held on June 15 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at PCOC – inclusive. Finally, Steed said the church is looking into providing childcare for special needs children “for a few hours so that [parents] can drop their kid off, that they're safe, and they can go Christmas shopping or they can go do some different things.”  



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