As a parent and a teacher, Heather Shuler was especially interested in a Parent Resource Fair at the Family Y in Graniteville on Saturday.
For the third year, the fair provided information for parents with special needs children – this year from both Aiken and Edgefield counties.
Shuler teaches first grade at Belvedere Elementary School and has a 9-year-old son, Hampton, with autism. One of the programs available for parents to learn about was STAR Riding – aimed at children with cognitive and physical issues.
“Hampton has been going for five years and just loves it,” Shuler said. “The fair is wonderful for my own child and for those I work with. It’s a great place for parents to come out and learn they are not alone.”
The event is sponsored by the Aiken and Edgefield school districts and Therapy Solutions with the cooperation of Family Y and Cedar Creek West in providing the facility they share. The fair also included a number of workshops.
“Some of the sessions focused on understanding (Individual Education Programs) that are set up for children with disabilities,” said Ann-Marie Taylor, a former Aiken coordinator and now Edgefield’s director of special programs.
Sal Minolfo, her counterpart in Aiken, also attended the fair to answer questions for parents.
The schools’ resource fair started three years ago with a grant, said Jennifer Minichan, the Aiken district’s early intervention supervisor. In 2012, she discovered Tiffany Stewart of Therapy Solutions was participating in a booth at the fair. That company also provides early intervention and has hosted its own event.
“We said we should collaborate and make it bigger and better,” Minichan said.
Denile Ogden attended the fair with her daughter, Isabella, 7, who is a student Greendale Elementary School in New Ellenton. Isabella and many other children participated in a supervised play area while parents attended the workshops.
“This is my first time to attend this program,” Ogden said. “I want to learn more about ADD and ADHD, and I’ll go to some of the sessions.”
Her niece, Brittany Ogden, also brought her son, Jaiden Allen, to the event. Jaiden, 4, attends Redcliffe Elementary School near Beech Island, where he attends preschool for half the school day. He also works one-on-one with a teacher-specialist for additional assistance.
“I came along to get more information,” said Brittany Ogden. “It’s been fun.”