Paula Moyer: Parent Advocacy
When Paula found out that her baby was going to have Down syndrome, she instantly thought, “Why not me?” and dove into reading and learning all she could from knowledgeable people in the community. Her son, Max, is now a freshman in high school, and she is still researching and networking, sharing the information she finds with other parents of children with special needs.
Paula started attending Sudbury SEPAC meetings when Max was in kindergarten, and served on its Board for eight years. Meanwhile, she and her family participated in the Learning Program, an educational methodology developed specifically for students with Down syndrome. In typical fashion, Paula soon became a Parent Team Leader, responsible for compiling classroom materials such as blank books that the children used to write stories. As Max grew older, their focus moved from reading comprehension to wider social emotional skills, and they got involved with Advocates in Motion from the Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress, which offers monthly socials for families and teenagers with Down syndrome.
The move to high school was a big one. Max had spent grades 1-8 in the Concord Area Special Education Collaborative (CASE), but he would attend high school at Lincoln-Sudbury Regional, a district where the SEPAC had lapsed. Once again, Paula stepped up to the plate, becoming its founding member and chair. She created a website and a Facebook page, promotional materials and business cards, and reached out to contacts from her years of advocacy to slate speakers for parent information and training sessions. She is currently working on an outreach plan to involve parents of METCO students in the SEPAC and regularly shares local and national resources online.
When asked why she would take on so much work, Paula simply expressed the wish to inform parents about available resources for their children with disabilities, and the need to educate the community as a whole. It is the same open spirit with which she met her child’s diagnosis, and the mindset at the very heart of the Community Partnership Awards.