First United Methodist Church of West Memphis celebrated a new ministry on Thursday, August 11, called Project Neuro. Sixty-five persons were in attendance for this program launch including school personnel, business owners, and the mayor of West Memphis.

Project Neuro was named after the term “neurodiversity” which refers to variations in the human brain and cognition, for instance in sociability, learning, attention, mood, and other mental functions.

This new ministry will serve the underserved population of neurodiverse individuals, due to no local programs being available and will also advocate for neurodiverse inclusion in the community and workplace.

The mission of Project Neuro is to provide guidance and training for neuro-diverse youth and young adults that enables them to develop and discover their talents, hone their strengths, and further their careers or hobbies. Project Neuro is also committed to creating an environment where such individuals can make friends and find spirituality and promote acceptance and understanding of neuro-diversity in the community.

Fifteen participants will meet three Wednesdays a month where they will work with a mental health professional, work on executive functioning skills, reading comprehension, and social skills, and be encouraged to participate in a spiritual activity.

“We have gained more support than we could have hoped for. Numerous businesses and individuals have pledged to help financially and with volunteer positions,” Rev. Carissa Tarkington, Associate Pastor, said. “We received a grant for $7,500 at the event from Ag for Autism.”

Rev. George O’Dell is the Senior Pastor of First United Methodist Church.