When a child is diagnosed with a disability their family begins a journey into the “world of disabilities”. The family may begin this journey unaware of the of new languages, beliefs and expectations. This “world of disabilities” is full of medical, educational and other professionals who speak different languages. They talk of IEPs, IFSPs, IDEA, MRIs, OCD, PDD, ADD, LD…; as the child and family struggle to find their way through this new “world”. How do parents find their way through this “new uncharted territory?”
- Families Together’s Family Enrichment Weekends offer unique opportunities for families to share their experiences with other families in a non-threatening and friendly environment. During these free overnight events, families gain support and information.
- Family Enrichment Weekends offer parents, children/youth with disabilities and their siblings an opportunity to meet individuals who share similar challenges and joys each day. Children are engaged in age-appropriate, inclusive activities throughout the event. University students and other community volunteers are recruited to serve as ‘companions’ to the children to assist with the activities and ensure safety.
- Parent activities at the Family Enrichment Weekends include trainings on: the provisions of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), development of Individualized Education Programs (IEP) and Individualized Family Service Plans (IFSP), community and statewide resources, and funding sources.
- Additionally, parents have unique opportunities to share their struggles and successes. Many answers lie with those who are paving the way for other students with disabilities– families “who have been there”. By sharing stories with other families who are successfully navigating the maze of special education, not only do parents discover that they are not alone in the journey, but also that it’s all right to dream and believe. Families share stories about varying stages of the journey, and give hope while sharing key elements necessary to make choices based on their child’s individual needs, strengths, and dreams.
- Families may register and attend only one overnight event per school year.
- Families Together and its funding agencies pay for hotel and meals for families that attend all sessions.
- Families who are registered to attend an event and fail to show up will be billed for their hotel room and meals.