The Importance of Getting Involved
This article was written by Linda Carmona-Bell and appeared in the FAMILIES TO THE MAX Summer 2018 Newsletter.
We as parents and guardians of children with disabilities hear constant appeals to get involved in groups and committees. We hear that more family participation is needed to give a family perspective. But who wants to speak in front of people? Who wants others to dive into their personal business? Let’s face it . . . Who has time?
You do! When it comes to your family members having a better quality of life YOU HAVE TIME. Use your time effectively to find out things that you never knew before that could make your everyday life easier. Sometimes it is just giving your valuable opinion to a project that will impact thousands of individuals, including your family. Sometimes, it is using one hour of one day in a meeting to learn things that that will increase your families quality of life.
Involvement at School
When we hear “family involvement” in a school setting, it can mean showing up for a meeting, asking questions about grades or the topic being studied, or many other things. When we participate in meetings such as our child’s IEP or 504, we become our child’s voice— their advocate—the person who is representing their needs. Research shows that family involvement absolutely increases student achievements for all students.
Involvement in the Community
Family involvement in community activities that affect your family member with disabilities has many forms. It may be:
- • Attending a meeting in your local area to learn new things
- • Asking questions about policies, decisions, or new programs
- • Providing your opinion to a committee so that your specific concerns can be considered
It can mean so much more! No matter how you look at it, the benefits of being involved are worth it!
My Experience with Involvement
I started getting involved when my 17 year-old was 4 years old. I have not stopped. I have learned more from other family members and by attending meetings at local and state levels than I would have ever learned from the school district. I have shared things I know with families. Better yet, the things I’ve learned have benefitted my child in school, work, and play by providing options that she would have never known. Isn’t it worth a try? I think so.
Where to Begin
Start small with a local group, or join the FAMILIES TO THE MAX: Statewide Family Network. Its mission is: Leading change for children with diverse needs by maximizing opportunities in the home, classroom, and community. The network’s vision is to empower students, families, and communities to believe that all children can reach their maximum potential. Doesn’t this sound awesome? If I were a betting person, I would bet that by taking the step to be more involved in speaking up for your child, doors will open that you never knew were closed! You will be glad you took that first step!
FAMILIES TO THE MAX is a partnership among the PEAL Center, Hispanos Unidos para Niños Excepcionales (HUNE) and PA Training and Technical Assistance Network (PaTTAN). For more information, contact:
- → Lorie or Tammi at 1-866-950-1040 (PEAL) or
- → Diana at a la Línea de Asistencia del Proyecto MAX (215) 595-5866 (Español e Inglés) (HUNE)
- → the Parent Partners, email firstname.lastname@example.org (PaTTAN) Linda Carmona-Bell