Hello Everyone! I have the privilege as your newly elected State President Representative to share with you all the wonderful activities that are happening across our state chapters. This year at the National LDA Conference we had several states that submitted Affiliate Accolades and were recognized for their innovative ideas, legislative actions, and recruitment efforts. The states that shared these experiences included: South Carolina, Illinois, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and California.
In South Carolina our first college LDA club was established. Many of us as educators and parents are excited and proud of this recruitment of young blood to grow into leadership roles. This college club is working in association with the larger South Carolina chapter of LDA and shares their mission which is to promote awareness and support for the general welfare of individuals with learning disabilities and their families. They do this through community outreach to schools, hosting awareness nights, and supporting disability service events at the college. As our first college club, South Carolina can be looked at as a model for other state universities and colleges who wish to give this professional experience to their undergraduate and graduate students.
In New Jersey the affiliate has been busy making connections with several committees and other organizations in their state. They have bridged connections between their Statewide Parent Advocacy Network, their State Special Education Advisory Council, the New Jersey Education Association, and Learning Ally. This outreach has extended partnerships where LDA New Jersey is working with law firms and mental health organizations to provide workshops and speakers in key areas of need. It seems that outreach has helped drive state membership, and provided increased visibility for both the state and national LDA organization!
New Hampshire has also been busy working on making connections between their chapter and local school districts. An educational buzzword that kept coming up in higher education as well as in K-12 districts throughout the state was “executive functioning.” LDA of New Hampshire involved cross-disciplinary professions that work with students with learning disabilities. They did so by focusing their newsletter and year on how neural connections and structures affect classroom academic, social, and behavioral performances. By working across disciplines (in mental health, medicine, and education), we have many more minds to network with and many more neural synapses firing for our cause!
LDA Illinois has also been working on spreading the word through fall workshops and legislative advocacy. They are using social media outlets, like Facebook and LinkedIn, as well as email blasts, purchasing advertisement space, and hard-copy flyers. They make sure their message can be seen in multiple platforms! The results included defeating a detrimental bill in the state legislature, which reallocated money allotted for special education services for general education purposes. LDA Illinois did a nice job standing up and recruiting for this cause, helping our students and families!
In southern Maryland (St. Mary’s County), there has been a focus on bringing authors that members are excited about to speak at the annual conference. Some of these authors include: Joyce Cooper-Kahn, Laurie Dietzel, Julie Swanson, Jennifer Laviano, and Dr. Jed Baker. This year southern Maryland is continuing with this effort bringing Carol Stock Kranowitz, an expert in sensory processing and integration, to headline their annual conference. Southern Maryland is listening to their members and providing the professional development and learning opportunities to meet their members’ needs.
California’s LDA affiliate has been working on and presenting workshops for young adults transitioning from the school setting. The focus of these presentations is to provide young adults with meaningful activities to aide in transitioning and reaching their potential. They used the story of how Pinocchio changed through a little help from his external “conscience” and mentor, Jiminy Cricket, to kick off these workshops on transitions. The hands-on activities at these workshops target the arts, literature, science, vocational skills, social communication, and leisure activities. While the young adults are in their own transition workshops, similar transition workshops are happening for the parents and mentors in their lives. California is doing a nice job focusing on the children, young adults, parents, and professionals they serve.
As you can see, we have many accomplishments in our state chapters to be very proud of! I know other states are doing great things, as well. I encourage you to share your state’s accomplishments so kudos can be given, and other states have the opportunity to see new ideas. Perhaps state partnerships can form as we all learn and grow together as an organization! I look forward to serving as your state presidents’ representative this year. Please reach out and contact me anytime (firstname.lastname@example.org).