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Conference on disabilities for parents, caregivers

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On Friday, June 1, parents, grandparents and caregivers of children with disabilities will have an opportunity to access resources and information in a free conference to take place at the Brooklyn Campus of Long Island University.

In addition, there will be several exciting workshops throughout the day and participants will receive five-minute massages, continental breakfast and lunch with a live band.

The event is hosted by the Brooklyn Parent Center, a program of Brooklyn Center for Independence of the Disabled, Inc. (BCID), a non-profit, grassroots organization operated by a majority of people with disabilities for people with disabilities.

“Many parents have a desperate need for information about resources and supports for themselves and their children,” says Joan Peters, executive director of BCID. “Also, the conference gives parents an opportunity to see how our presenters with disabilities have learned to successfully navigate the world,” she added.

The all day conference will tackle several key issues such as conflict resolution, sexual assault, dating, traveling and independent living. Workshop topics include: Special Education Mediation; Marriage and Parenting with a Disability; Hear Our Voice: LGBTQ Youth With Disabilities and What to do When Your Child Wants to Date, Travel and be Independent? The keynote address will be delivered by Lawrence Carter-Long, Public Affairs Specialist with the National Council on Disability.

In one of the most highly anticipated panels called: “A Father’s Perspective: Challenges Triumphs of Raising a Child with a Disability” three fathers of children with disabilities will discuss the challenges faced by parents of disabled children in general and fathers in particular. Moderating the panel will be Joseph Williams, a single father of a 13-year-old son with autism and a 27-year-old son with cerebral palsy.

“One of the biggest challenges I have had to face -- especially with my oldest son -- is that I had to fight the Board of Education for everything,” said Williams. “And even though it has gotten a lot better over the years in terms of related services for children with disabilities, there are still many principals who do not grasp what it means to deal with special needs children in their schools.”

Revere Joyce is the project and special events coordinator of the Brooklyn Parent Center. “It’s personally rewarding to spend a day with parents and grandparents of children with disabilities and see them take a moment for themselves,” she said.

“While the conference is a day of resources and information, it’s also a day of relaxation. I’m very appreciative that the Occupational Therapy Department at Long Island University is a sponsor.The campus provides a tranquil environment for the conference,” said Joyce.

The conference will end the session designed to give parents a relaxing break. In addition, this wellness component serves as a reminder to parents that in order to be the best advocate for their child, they too need to care for themselves. It will be conducted by Jamel Cherry, a certified holistic health counselor who will take participants through an interactive Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) session aimed at restoring calm and rebalancing their energies.

Admission to the conference, which will run from 8:30 a.m. -- 4:00 p.m. is free but pre-registration is required. To register go to www.brooklynparentcenter.eventbrite.com.

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