The Federation held its annual statewide conference “Visions of Community, a Conference for Parents of Children with Special Needs and the Professionals Who Serve Them” on Saturday, March 8 at the Seaport World Trade Center in Boston.
Two keynote presentations for Visions of Community featured Michael K. Yudin, Acting Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services for the US Department of Education and Dana and Brooke Yarbrough. Dana is the Executive Director of Parent to Parent of Virginia. Her daughter Brooke operates Brooke’s Happy Tails Dog Boarding, a microenterprise she started in 2012. Special Guests included representatives from the Massachusetts House of Representatives, Department of Youth Services, Department of Developmental Services, Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Bureau of Family Health & Nutrition, Department of Public Health, and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Keynote presentation and special guest remarks can be viewed on the Federation’s YouTube channel or click on the links below.
Breakout workshops Visions of Community included topics on special education advocacy, managing challenging behaviors, transition to adulthood for students with disabilities, inclusion, policy initiatives, assistive technology, healthcare, bullying, parent leadership opportunities, early childhood, autism and more. In addition to approximately 30 sessions in English, a full conference strand of many of these topics will be offered in Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Somali, and Vietnamese. Handouts for some of these workshops are now available in PDF format.
Representative Tom Sannicandro
Massachusetts State Representative Tom Sannicandro address the participants at Visions of Community 2014 and has a homework assignment for each one.
Deputy Commissioner Cliff Robinson, Department of Mental Health
Deputy Commissioner Cliff Robinson brings greetings from the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health and talks about the Department’s focus on working with families.
Commissioner Elin Howe, Department of Developmental Services
Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services Commissioner Elin Howe speaks to the attendees at Visions of Community 2014 about the Department’s focus on providing community-based employment opportunities for persons with disabilities.
Commissioner Heidi Reed, Massachusetts Commission for the
Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Commissioner Heidi Reed of the Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing welcomes the guests at Visions of Community 2014 and stresses the importance of working together to better the lives of children and adults with disabilities.
Commissioner Mitchell Chester, Department of Elementary and
Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester brings greetings to participants at Visions of Community 2014. Dr. Chester encourages parents to take advantage of the opportunity to reach out to the many Department staff attending the conference, and introduces keynote speaker Assistant Secretary Michael Yudin, of the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services at the US Department of Education, and the passion he brings to his work.
Community Partnership Awards
Seven honorees were awarded the Federation’s Community Partnership Award at Visions of Community 2014 in the areas of education, advocacy, parent leadership and community inclusion.
Assistant Secretary Michael Yudin
Assistant Secretary Michael Yudin, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services at the US Department of Education, delivers a keynote address at Visions of Community 2014. He passionately describes the importance of parents, educators and policymakers having a shared vision of high expectations for all children, including those with disabilities, and how those high expectations will improve the opportunities for students as they mature into adulthood.
Dana and Brooke Yarbrough
Mother and daughter, Dana and Brooke Yarbrough, present their inspirational journey at Visions of Community 2014. From the background of the entrepreneurial women in Dana’s family, to the birth of her daughter, graduation from high school and becoming a new business owner, Dana and Brooke inspired the crowd as they discussed the reality of negotiating a maze of “nay-sayers” while holding onto a dream of what could, and ultimately, would be.