The Douglas County (Colo.) Special Education Advisory Committee, a group of parents with children in special education along with special education teachers, brought together its community through the Personalized Learning Resource Fair with area organizations that serve special education, English as a second language, and gifted and talented students. More than 40 organizations were represented and 150 families attended the fair, earning DCSEAC PTO Today's Outstanding Community Service Project award for 2016.
The DCSEAC supports children with wide-ranging diagnoses, including dyslexia, ADHD, autism spectrum disorders, emotional needs, and vision impairment. The event was equally wide-ranging in how it came together. Tammy Bishop, the DCSEAC’s Parent Connections chairwoman, reached out to all the organizations that the committee supports throughout the year and invited them to attend. The marketing team spread the word about the event, the Douglas County School District donated use of the high school, and the Douglas County Association for Gifted and Talented contributed table covers to spruce up the booths. The district’s personalized learning department also assisted.
“It was a team effort that brought a range of families, community partners, educators, and district staff together to positively support families,” DCSEAC marketing chairwoman Lori Werhane says.
In addition to the Personalized Learning Resource Fair, the DCSEAC created a website with more information from these organizations as well as links to events, support groups, and a monthly newsletter. More than 10,000 people have used the site. The group has also expanded its programming to include family fun events at local parks.
“The needs of parents/caregivers on the special education journey are the same,” Werhane says. “All parents supporting children with any special needs are always searching for support, resources, understanding, and community.”