A little over a year ago, a few like-minded folks from the Memphis Center for Independent Living, LeBonheur Children’s Hospital, UT Boling Center for Developmental Disabilities, the Harwood Center, and STEP, Inc. (Support and Training for Exceptional Parents) got together to talk about the need for interaction and support that Latino families of children with disabilities in the Memphis area have. Navigating systems that provide services to children with exceptional educational and medical needs is complicated—even for families that are native English speakers! To help to address those needs, this group began planning for monthly meetings, to be conducted in Spanish, on a variety of topics relevant to the group. A first meeting was planned; a location was found, food was purchased, and a topic was chosen. The word was spread—and families came! Latino Memphis provided a place to meet and help with tending children. A needs assessment was given to attending families, and we were on our way.
A year later, our group, now known as LUCES (Latinos United for Children’s Educational Services) has a consistent meeting place, generously provided by Bartlett United Methodist Church, and a consistent meeting time (6:30 pm– 8:00 pm on the second Friday of the month). 25 or more adults usually attend and bring their children, which are supervised and provided snacks and activities. Programs have been put on about behavioral interventions, special education advocacy, child safety, organizing a child’s records, and on the emotional/familial impact of disabilities. Recreational meetings have also been held—centered around good food and conversation! The parent support group for Latino families in the Nashville area has provided technical assistance to our group over the past year as we got started. LUCES’ planning group has lots of good ideas for the meetings ahead, and hopes to find funding for expenses incurred that have been covered over the year by the supporting agencies. LUCES is going full speed ahead, and looks forward to the group becoming larger and nurturing leaders from within.
For more information contact Martha Lopez, Bilingual Family Educator and Project Assistant with STEP, Inc. at (901) 726-4334 or via email at email@example.com
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