Rockwood to hold first-ever Disabilities Fair Oct. 25 for families and community
By DIANE E. SAMSON
In recognition of October being Disabilities History and Awareness Month, Rockwood School District will hold its first-ever Disabilities Fair on Oct. 25 from 3-6 p.m. at the Administrative Center Annex in Eureka.
The fair is designed to help families who have children with disabilities learn about the resources available to provide support for their children. Many different agencies will have booths at the fair including the St. Louis Learning Disabilities Association, TASK–Team Activities for Special Kids, Autism Speaks and Special Olympics.
Nikki Beichler, Rockwood’s special education/504 coordinator, came up with the idea while brainstorming how to do something bigger and better for October’s Disability History and Awareness mission.
“There are so many students with disabilities, and there are so many resources out there that parents and families are not aware of, free resources even, that can help families in a variety of different ways,” Beichler said. “This fair can help connect them and help them find different things that they need to help their student with a disability.”
Terri Jordan, parent of a Rockwood fifth-grader with a disability, is looking forward to the fair to learn more about TASK–Team Activities for Special Kids, which provides kids with athletic and social opportunities. Her son already is involved in different kinds of therapy including Equine Assistance Therapy and music therapy, but Jordan said she is excited to see what TASK has to offer.
“Parents can get overwhelmed with everything going on with their child,” said Jordan. “It can be hard to see beyond the next day, and this is an opportunity for them to find some programs to help their child grow.”
Jordan said the fair also will be excellent for the general public to attend because even if you don’t have a child with a disability, you might come across someone who has need of one of these agencies.
“It also makes you more aware and understanding of people around you,” she said. “This is a chance to reinforce that everyone has something great about them something of value.”
Rockwood parent Julie Loos said that the fair would be a great way to create a community of support.
“When you can find another mom that has been down that road before you, you can learn from them and it can give you great comfort,” Loos said.
Rockwood parent Dawn Loeppke doesn’t have a student with a disability but thinks the fair would be beneficial from an educational standpoint as well.
“It would be nice if someone could educate us and our kids on how to best engage and interact with a person with a disability,” Loeppke said.
Last year the Missouri State Legislature passed HB 555, which among other things designated October as Disability History and Awareness Month. The bill encouraged school districts to provide the students with instruction during the month that would increase their knowledge and awareness of individuals with disabilities as well as develop a school community that includes students with disabilities and acknowledges their unique talents and contributions.
Beichler said a majority of the schools in the district have activities during October such as speakers and assemblies.
“There are so many people who have disabilities and who are very successful and play important roles in our history,” Beichler said. “I think it’s great for kids to know that just because you have a disability doesn’t mean you are not going to be successful. You can persevere and overcome whatever disability you have and do some amazing things.”