Side by Side: A Social Ramp for Teens and Young Adults

  • Evelyn Worth McMullen, DEdMin
Keywords: disability ministry, social ramps, universal social design, youth ministry, church mission


Teens and young adults with disabilities seeking a place in congregational life encounter barriers. Youth ministry leaders wonder how to include teens with social or communication challenges. This article describes Side by Side, a model of relationship building within the existing mission activities of a church. By applying the principles of universal design to this social environment, social ramps are developed. Implementation steps are outlined. The author raises limitations of the Side by Side model. Church leaders are challenged to prioritize relationships over program, nurturing friendships among people of all abilities.

Author Biography

Evelyn Worth McMullen, DEdMin

Evelyn Worth McMullen, DEdMin, was called to disability ministry through serving in Christian education. A doctorate in Educational Ministry from Columbia Theological Seminary led her to start Bright Threads Ministries, a nonprofit based in Lakeland, Florida. Evelyn shows ministry leaders how to weave people of all abilities into congregational life.

How to Cite
McMullen, E. (2018). Side by Side: A Social Ramp for Teens and Young Adults. Journal of the Christian Institute on Disability, 7(2), 27-46. Retrieved from