“This is my sixth year here,” said Joy, a parent attending Family to Family Network’s recent Annual Conference and Resource Fair . “I keep coming back because I am always looking for new information and resources to help my son.”
Joy is a mom to a bright 12-year-old son with Down syndrome. Her mission is to give him every chance for a successful future. That includes employment and life in the community.
“With each new stage, you have to educate yourself,” Joy said. “The first time I attended, my son was starting school. I wanted to learn more about inclusion. Now, our focus is on transition.”
Bridgette first came to the conference three years ago for her daughter. “Initially, I came for the speakers. I wanted to learn everything I could about autism.”
“I also love the resource fair,” she said. “There is so much good information about therapies, camps, and services to help our children grow and evolve. This is such a great networking opportunity.”
Family to Family’s (F2F) mission is creating success for kids and adults with disabilities. Next year, they will host their 14th annual conference for parents. There is also a track for youth and young adults with disabilities.
Speakers cover a variety of topics, including:
Between sessions, parents can visit the resource fair. They speak with vendors who provide a wide range of services. Some of the exhibitors are young adults who have found success by starting their own business.
“I am overwhelmed by the positive energy here,” said Teresa, whose teen son has autism. “I still have a lot to learn, but today I have found hope.”
Teresa and her parent network share information and resources via the GroupMe app. “I have a lot to share with them from this event,” she noted.
“This conference has been great for me as a working mom,” said Mary. “Here I can find so much good information in one day and one place.”
Mary first attended when her son moved from private to public school. “I had to learn very quickly how to work with the school system. Now, I am learning ways to support my son as an adult.”
She noted that the conference is where she first heard about waiver programs and the importance of getting on the interest lists. “Parents should be getting this information from the schools, but very often they don’t,” Mary said.
Family to Family Network believes that with the right tools and supports, children can graduate. They can work. They can continue their education after high school. They can live in the community. When families create a clear vision for their children's future - success is possible.
The F2F Conference is held each January in Houston. Parents are encouraged to pre-register. Stipends are available to family members and youth with disabilities who sign up early.
For more information, visit Familytofamilynetwork.org.
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