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Youth groupís clown ministry provides opportunity to reach deaf childrencomment (0)

April 13, 2000

By By Bruce Sims


Clowns “Bobo” and “Tater Tot” are helping students at First Baptist Church, Robertsdale, make a difference in the lives of some of their less fortunate peers.

Better known by their street names, Roland (Bobo) and Jessica (Tater Tot) McMillan have shared with students at First, Robertsdale, about how clowning can be an effective witnessing tool.

The McMillans, who served as missionaries at Gulf State Park and are now at New Orleans Seminary, imparted their knowledge during a seminar two years ago. The couple shared how to develop a character, what costumes to wear, how to apply makeup and how to make animal characters from balloons.

“Our kids have since used their clowning to visit hospitals, work in Vacation Bible School and visit Camp Shocco for deaf children,” said youth worker Cheryl Prine.

Learning skills

Several of the youth are also learning American Sign Language from deaf members of the church, according to Prine. She said the skills opened doors for several youth during a trip to Talladega, where they visited the Alabama School for the Deaf, the Helen Keller School for the Deaf and Blind and Faith Baptist Church.

The youth group has also formed a group at Robertsdale High School called Friends of Children with Different Abilities (FCDA) and works with special education students.

“The FCDA club at school, which is sponsored by special education teacher David Briggs, has allowed us to use some of our clowning skills to work with and entertain special education students from all over Baldwin County,” said student Jeanne Marie Prine. Prine said she hopes to become a praise and worship leader for the deaf. The students’ work also appears to have influenced others besides Prine.

Classmate Jessica Whitaker said she has also felt a call into ministry as a result of participating with the youth group.

“One day I would like to major in ministry and minor in deaf education and music,” Whitaker said.

For the students, clowning and visiting nursing homes is something they truly enjoy.

“Recently we visited an elderly lady who asked us to sing ‘Silent Night’ for her,” said Tricia Duck, a member of the group who attends the University of South Alabama. “As we sang, she began to cry, which had us all crying as well. We were the ones who were blessed as a result of that trip.”

Prine said the young people she works with are a special group.

“Whether its visiting hospitals, working within the church’s deaf ministry, going to summer camp or forming clubs at school, these young people are having a positive impact on their community,” she said.

For more information about the group, call Prine at 334-947-4362.

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