July 12, 2023

Investiture of Pathfinder With Autism Highlights Possibility Ministries

In Brasilia, Brazil, Adrian Dias is recognized for his contributions as a leader.

Maita Tôrres, South American Division, and Adventist Review
Adrian Dias receives the Pathfinder scarf from the hands of Udolcy Zukowski and his parents. [Photo: Maita Tôrres]

In a special ceremony, the Águas Pathfinder Club in Brasilia, Brazil, invested member Adrian Dias as a leader on July 2. He is the first person with autism to receive the Pathfinder leader scarf in Brazil’s capital city region.

Udolcy Zukowski, Pathfinders director for the South American Division (SAD) of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, explained that the organization works with boys and girls ages 10 to 15 and provides each one of them with opportunities of physical, mental, and spiritual development.

“We are committed to inclusion,” Zukowski said.

Zukowski emphasized that Pathfinder clubs also serve people with mobility or learning difficulties. “The Pathfinders ministry also works to help members reach levels that, for others, might seem impossible,” he said. “Dias is an example of it, because people can climb to new levels, new possibilities, new heights, and new victories if we just give them an opportunity.”

New Opportunities

Ivay Araújo, Pathfinders director in the Brasilia region, agreed. “We are opening new possibilities through inclusion for new leaders,” he said.

Araújo also explained that Dias worked hard and enlisted the support of his parents and his club leaders. “Through a deliberate model of inclusion, we hope to invest in more people like him,” he said.

An Outstanding Achievement

Dias is the son of Pathfinder Club members. He was diagnosed with autism when he was 9. According to him, the ceremony was “quite exciting.” He added, “It was surprising how many people came, both from my present and from my past. I enjoyed seeing them.”

His mother, Adriana Oliveira, also a Pathfinders leader, said there were no words to describe what she felt. “If I can sum it up, let me just say that I am very thankful,” Oliveira said. “We saw God perform miracles in his life so he could get to this stage. It was not easy. Some [Pathfinder] honors were difficult for him [to achieve], but he kept on working and faced the challenges along the way. We are so proud of him!”

With outdoor activities, training, hands-on learning, and, above all, Christian values, Pathfinder clubs provide an environment for personal and spiritual growth and a sense of belonging, leaders said. “It helps to generate feelings of inclusivity, in which children and adolescents are encouraged to get involved in the club activities,” they explained.

Adventist Possibility Ministries

The Adventist Possibility Ministries seeks to engage the Seventh-day Adventist Church and its departments to support those who are deaf, blind, or have physical disabilities or reduced mobility. It also seeks to include people with cognitive, intellectual, mental, or psychological limitations, and orphans and vulnerable children. Finally, it strives to support caregivers and those who are mourning the loss of a loved one.

The original version of this story was posted on the South American Division Portuguese-language news site.