13. Off to My First Conference

As I  patiently awaited  the final ruling regarding the transportation issue,   http://www.ped.state.nm.us/seo/library/transguide.pdf I  continued to network and learn.

The closest established resource was Parent to Parent of Miami and I joined them and was receiving their newsletter, (http://www.ptopmiami.org/) which listed some resources I could use.    In my search for information I was finding that there were absolutely no resources in my community of southwest Florida.

ImageI continued discussions with Mr. Flood from the Advocacy Center  (http://www.disabilityrightsflorida.org/) and he shared with me information on an upcoming special education conference being held in Miami and mailed me the flyer.

The contact information on the flyer  was a phone number that I called and talked to a mother of a son with a disability Lilliam Pollo.  When I shared my story with her she made me understand that our efforts should be for all children and not disability specific. I spoke at length with her and registered for the conference.  She referred me to her supervisor  Renee Whaley. http://centralfloridaparentcenter.org/memorials/

Holy Moly!  This was my first exposure to a seasoned informed parent advocate.  I learned more from those phone calls with her than I did in all the months of research I had done on my own. I was in total awe at the sheer volume of information she possessed and how effortlessly she was able to share it with me regardless of the question I posed to her.  She was to be a presenter at the conference I would be attending and I would get to meet her in person there.

I started to understand that this parent disability rights movement was a lot larger than I realized. The group hosting the conference was called a parent training and information center. Although this was the only center in Florida  and in its infancy it was part of a national network of established centers (http://www.parentcenternetwork.org/national/aboutus.html) funded by OSEP from the US Dept. of Education.Education.(http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/osers/osep/index.html)

I attended a training sponsored by FDLRS (http://www.fdlrs.org/) still looking for answers and resources. I was the only parent at the training. The presenters were from the Florida Department of Education (http://www.fldoe.org/ese/)  and the subject was information dissemination. The trainers were Joanne Scaturro and Judy O’Halloran.  As fate would have it once again I was meeting people who would greatly impact my life. Joanne was familiar with the parent group that was hosting the conference and Judy’s husband was the president of the organization and a special education attorney.  Joanne shared with me that there was a part time  job opportunity working from home that I would be perfect for. Armed with all this new information I set my sites on attending my first parent  conference and the possibility of part time employment working from home.

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