For this year's Symposium, we're going to start some conversation. Taboo subjects that generally make people uncomfortable. Don't worry, it's not about religion or politics - it's about LIFE LONG PLANNING & more.
by Raissa Chandler, Founder
My friend, Karen Echols, died this week due to an illness that arose during her cancer treatments. I’ll miss her. A lot of people tend to lean on me for advice and support. I, in turn, leaned on Karen for advice and support. Karen was one of the original Southsiders. She was one of our first trustees for the organization and ultimately the first Vice President of Southside Support back in 2011 when we first incorporated into a 501c3 nonprofit. Her most significant contribution to Southside was developing our core belief that the family is a unit. What happens to a child affects the whole family, not just the child.
You'll want to check out Southside's Calendar - there's lots of great learning opportunities, a Soiree, and egg hunts this month.
March into SPRING!
In March, we start planning for the future. Planning for the immediate summer, planning for graduation and beyond, planning for college or work. There are TONS of opportunities to find more information, and have a little fun in March.
Due to most of the leadership managing Soiree this month, the only SUPPORT GROUP meeting will be held Monday, March 14 at 9:30AM at Kakao Café in Tyrone.
Sat. March 5, 8AM. Griffin High School. 1617 W Poplar Avenue. Griffin.
Life After High School: Metro South Regional Transition Conference. Free.
Features sessions on (in this order) Medicaid, SSI/SSDI, Employment, and Guardianship. Over 20 exhibitors related to the transition of LIFE AFTER HIGH SCHOOL. Contact: Raissa Chandler 770-713-6731. Preregister for event.
Tues. March 8, 7PM. 107 Governors Trace, Fayetteville.
Summer Camp Preview. Exceptional OPS. Free.
Forum discusses local camp options for students with disabilities.
Contact: Janet Smola 770-631-1035.
Sat. March 19. 9AM Clayton State University, Morrow.
FOCUS Conference. Check website for tickets.
Workshops include IEPs, NOW / COMP, Deeming Waiver, and Special Needs Wills & Trusts.
Contact: Elizabeth (770) 234-9111
Sunday, March 20 11AM. Peachtree City Seventh Day Adventist Church.
Community Health Fair. Free
Check your vitals, learn about health, nutrition, and wellness. Say hi to Southside Friends. Door prizes.
Tues. March 22. 8AM Grace Evangelical Church, 162 Flat Creek Trail, Fayetteville
Mental Health Forum. $35 public
Features Nate Call, Director of Behavioral Health and Supports, Marcus Autism Center, and other guest speakers. www.fayettefactor.org for additional information.
FUN THINGS TO DO
Sat. March 12. 7PM The Loft At Due South, Peachtree City. Tickets available at Eventbrite.
Southside Soiree. Annual gala fundraising event for Southside Support. Features Silent Auction, Casino style games, Dancing, Open Bar, and Delectable Cuisine. Formal attire – black tie optional.
Sat. March 19. 10AM Lekotek office. Governors Walk. Fayetteville
Lekotek Egg Hunt. Please rsvp online to participate in this event. Activity stations will open at 10AM, egg hunt will happen promptly at 11AM.
Sat. March 19. 2-4PM Nash Farm Battlefield, Hampton.
11th Annual "Extra Special Easter Party and Egg Hunt"
Registration requested. Send your name and number of people with disabilities and other children who will be participating to firstname.lastname@example.org . Egg hunts start at 2:15PM, no exceptions.
We liked what ADA In Your Shoes had to say about IEP templates for letters for schools, so here's a link to their handy article entitled "25+ Letter Templates for Special Education"
If you want to get connected to all that’s available in the special needs community, January’s the time to do it. This is a comprehensive list of things to do this month.
9:30AM STOCKBRIDGE: Chick-fil-A 3649 Hwy 138 SE. FOCUS Share Group. This meeting is facilitated by trained parent volunteers. Parents share their ups and downs, helping each other find solutions and support. Please call 770-234-9111 or email email@example.com to RSVP and for reminders, directions, or further information.
9:30AM TYRONE: Kakao Café on Senoia Road. Southside Support Monthly Support Group. Topic(s): Survey, getting started with Autism. Raissa@southsidesupport.org
12Noon COLLEGE PARK: College Park Library on Main Street. The Parent Support Group of South Fulton (Parent to Parent of Georgia). For families of children with Autism and developmental disabilities. For further information contact: Deborah Fields-Harris, firstname.lastname@example.org or 404-762-9414
9:30AM GRIFFIN, GRLS/RESA offices on Tilney Avenue. Metro South Regional Transition Conference Planning Committee. Planning for the March 5 Conference in Griffin. Public Welcome to participate in both planning and conference. http://MSRTCCONFERENCE.weebly.com
11:30AM: GRIFFIN, Dwarf House on Taylor Street. Southside Survey Meet and Greet. Meet Southside Support Founder, Raissa Chandler. Be part of a focus group for special needs families through answering survey and guided discussions. Bring $$ if you’d like to eat/drink. email@example.com
10:30AM: MCDONOUGH, Panera Bread at Hwy 20. Southside Support Monthly Support Group Topic(s): Survey, Katie Beckett Medicaid. Raissa@southsidesupport.org
We think this is the day that Ryan’s Friends in Stockbridge is doing their Autism Support Group. http://ryansfriendsinc.org
10:00AM: EAST POINT, Chick Fil A on Camp Creek Parkway. Southside Survey Meet and Greet. Meet Southside Support Founder, Raissa Chandler. Be part of a focus group for special needs families through answering survey and guided discussions. Bring $$ if you’d like to eat/drink. firstname.lastname@example.org
10:00AM: NEWNAN, Panera Bread Co on Bullsboro Drive. Southside Survey Meet and Greet. Meet Southside Support Founder, Raissa Chandler. Be part of a focus group for special needs families through answering survey and guided discussions. Bring $$ if you’d like to eat/drink. email@example.com
6:30PM: MCDONOUGH, Academy of Advance Studies on East Tomlinson Street. Henry County College Preparation Night for students with disabilities. There is a flyer with specific information and directions. Please RSVP by January 15, 2016 to Beth Pieczynski at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (770)957-8086 ext. 568
10:00AM: FAIRBURN, Chick Fil A on Hwy 74. Southside Survey Meet and Greet. Meet Southside Support Founder, Raissa Chandler. Be part of a focus group for special needs families through answering survey and guided discussions. Bring $$ if you’d like to eat/drink. email@example.com
10:30AM: FAIRBURN, Bedford School on Milam Road. Learning Disabilities Association of Georgia (LDAG) is hosting the Star Expo (http://ldag.org/events.html) on Saturday, January 30, 2016 at The Bedford School. This free event features resources, speakers, workshops and exhibitions of sports, arts, improv and music. Info: Merrell Pair, at 770-386-3436 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
9:00AM: ATLANTA, Dunwoody United Methodist Church, 1548 Mt Vernon Rd. FOCUS Annual Education Conference. This conference strives to help families by inviting professionals to address the issues parents of children with disabilities face daily. Representatives from agencies in the community will exhibit so participants can learn about other services available in the community, such as respite care, therapy groups and equipment. Registration is required. http://focus-ga.org for more information
UPCOMING: You’ll also want to put on your calendar the following events:
8:00AM: GRIFFIN, Griffin High School on West Poplar Street. Metro South Regional Disability Expo & Transition Conference. Life After High School. Conference includes exhibitors and sessions on Medicaid, SSI/SSDI, Employment, and Guardianship. http://msrtcconference.weebly.com
7:00PM: PEACHTREE CITY, The Loft at Due South on Hwy 74. Southside Support Annual Gala: Southside Soiree – A Night in Monte Carlo. Featuring open bar, $5000 worth of gaming chips, delectable cuisine, silent auction, dancing, prizes. www.southsidesoiree.com
Coming in January - opportunities to let your voice be heard about your special need family's needs
Survey Dates, times, and locations
1/11 9:30AM TYRONE: Kakao Café on Senoia Road
1/12 11:30AM GRIFFIN: Dwarf House on Taylor Street
1/15 10:30AM MCDONOUGH: Panera Bread on Hwy 20
1/22 10:00AM EAST POINT: Chick Fil A on Camp Creek Parkway
1/26 10:00AM NEWNAN: Panera Bread Co on Bullsboro Drive
1/29 10:00AM FAIRBURN: Chick Fil A on Hwy 74
About the survey
Southside Support wants to know what's going on south of Atlanta. 4 years ago, we did a community town hall meeting to find out what kinds of support families needed. It's time to ask again and expand on what we need in our communities.
Throughout the month of January, Southside Founder, Raissa Chandler, will lead small group discussions and present written surveys for family members, caregivers, and providers associated with the special needs community. The public is invited to participate in these discussions and to fill out the survey.
A copy of the survey is below.
If you'd like to fill this out online, it can be found at Community Interest Survey
Originally posted November 2009
Holidays stress me out. Not only do I have to take care of myself, and both the kids during a holiday break, there’s a little matter of a FEAST and COMPANY we have to deal with as well. While my kids tolerate company, they don’t like the feast part. They don’t like the food, they don’t like the fact they have to sit still for hours at a time, and they don’t like to keep their “nice” clothes clean for pictures afterwards. Of course, they let me know all of this through typical autism behaviors – screaming, tantrumming, running away. And I’m the one who gets all the dirty looks from company.
1. Self-Care. You, as primary caregiver, are going to need a minimum of 5 hours for self-care. That’s things like putting gas in the car, buying groceries, catching up on sleep, and at least one hour to do something just for yourself, without any kids in tow. For me, that’s therapy. But it could be walking, crotchet, reading a book, soaking in a tub. Just something that has to do with self-care. Cause when momma/poppa ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.
2. Caregivers versus programs. Who cares for the kids in those 5 hours a week? Maybe you’ve got a willing family member, or maybe not. If not, you’re going to have to either develop some caring friends really quick, or perhaps start budgeting for a regular caregiver. Another option is to utilize summer programs (camps, VBS, etc.) for your needs. For more about summer programs, check out the next blog.
3. One Page. A friend of ours turned us onto the “One Page” – a description of our child that we can give to caregivers, camp and VBS directors, and school system personnel in the fall. It’s been extremely helpful to be able to differentiate how my children’s diagnosis affects how they succeed in new situations. This is one of the best essentials we use during the summertime.
4. Go Bag. This is the bag that’s filled with the stuff you and your family can’t live without. Bug spray, sunblock, wet wipes, Band-Aids, a shelf stable snack, a couple bottles of water, a change of clothes, an extra Visa gift card for when you’ve forgotten your purse, a list of important (caregiver and friend) numbers if you find yourself in a pickle.
What are your summertime essentials?
Please note that the experiences we’ve had are Fayette County and surrounding area specific, because that’s where I live. Hopefully this list will inspire you to find resources in your area.
1. FOCUS Camps. Camp Hollywood and Camp TEAM are two camps that have always come through for the special needs communities. I love the “rotating stations” concept of Camp Hollywood, and love the general summer camp feel of Camp TEAM. Contact FOCUS directly to see if your child is eligible for attending. There’s a fee, but trust me, it’s worth it.
2. Regular childcare. Find a sitter now before they are all booked up and invest in at least one afternoon for planned childcare a week. Here at Southside, we’re putting out feelers at local colleges – if you’d like to see the current list (of unscreened candidates) you’re welcome to it. Just report back to us on how you like them.
3. Bounce houses and Chuck E Cheese. Finding locations that limit entrance and exit, are climate controlled, and see rambunctious kids on an hourly basis are a blessing for kids who are high energy need.
4. Art Centers. Personally, we like Bubbles and Brushes because they’ve been openly welcoming to students with disabilities.
5. Fayette 4H Camp Cloverbud. April McDaniel, one of the staff members at the 4H has always been receptive in having students with disabilities attend this camp. It’s an ALL DAY camp, which is a true blessing for those who want a mainly outdoor experience.
6. Therapeutic Horse riding. South of the city, we are known for our abundance of therapeutic riding centers. There’s Haven Hills, Calvin Center, and CORRAL. Heard one member from Southside talk about Honey Creek, but haven’t met them personally yet.
7. Friendship Craze. Sara Parker is an active Southsider and has always encouraged our members to come try Friendship Craze – a short weekly program (or summer camp) that teaches social skills in a fun manner. We especially like it when she turns it into Cooking Craze – who doesn’t like a good snack to go along with a social skills lesson.
8. Parks! You know all the good ones along the Southside – All Children’s in Peachtree City, Newnan Utilities Park, Senoia City Park, YMCA Fayetteville Park, Splash Pad park in Hampton (for residents only), Splash Park in Lagrange. Some hidden ones you may not know about are the indoor play area (fees apply) in Shenanigan’s Toy Store in Peachtree City, Kedron Aquatic Center pool – go after 5PM on a Friday and you’ll have the pool to yourself. Let us know your local favorite.
9. Children’s movie time at local theaters. Many theaters have children’s movie matinees for a nominal fee – check your local theater for their specials.
10. Grandma’s house. Or Aunt Ethel’s. Or cousin Frank’s. Or the neighbor down the street who says you can come by and use their pool anytime. Use ‘em.
Hopefully you’ve got ideas on what to do over the dog days of summer. For your further planning assistance, here’s a handy planning calendar. Enjoy the summer!
I am thrilled to see we are currently serving 570 families on our Southside Support for Special Needs Families Facebook Group page. This is double where we were at this time last year. So exciting! It is time to inform all of you exactly what Southside Support, Inc., is accomplishing behind the scenes.
Are you not connected to us on the facebook group? We'll try to make sure to pull out the best of facebook and post it here.
Not on our Email list? That's OK. We'll post community announcements that we send via email here.