‘Tis The Season of Appreciation!

Nineteen years ago our family entered the world of disability, first hand, when our child was diagnosed with a developmental disability; and 18 years ago, I began providing support and information to families/caregivers of individuals with disabilities.  It has been a great privilege to serve at statewide and local disability organizations, boards, support groups and the school district, as well as co-creating some valuable on-going initiatives.

Along the way, I attended the Florida Developmental Disabilities Council’s Partners in Policymaking Program, a leadership and advocacy training program that teaches individuals with developmental disabilities and parents to become community leaders and catalysts for systems change. While walking along this path, participants learn how to obtain the best available services for themselves and others.  This experience has left a lifelong impact on me and I highly recommend this program.  Learn more here.

As our PIP graduation project, a friend and colleague and I worked together to convert a struggling autism support group to Developmental Disabilities Information Sessions for parents of students with disabilities that attend Hillsborough County Public Schools.  Our first meeting of K.I.D.D.s (Key for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities) was held at an elementary school, two individuals attended, a married couple. The Mom went on to start a local support group and sibling group – the support group continues to meet today. Over the years our group grew in attendance and stature and today, K.I.D.D.s is known as K.I.D.s (Keys for Individuals with Disabilities) and serves hundred of parents a year with beneficial sessions.  Find out more at the Florida Diagnostic & Learning Resources System (FDLRS) – Hillsborough website here.

Eighteen years ago, my former Supervisor and the creator of the FDLRS Parent Liaison Project and the Parent Services Manager, Millie Bucy, started the Excellence in Action Awards”, established to recognize individuals who have made a difference in the life of a student with special needs receiving Hillsborough County Public Schools (HCPS) Exceptional Student Education (ESE) services.  I have attended every Award Ceremony, even if briefly last year, for the past seventeen years and it became a true labor of love to co-produce this event for fifteen years.  Another friend and colleague and I came up with the concept and name of the Millie Bucy Positive Parent Involvement Award and the selected parents are incredible advocates!

Our family’s disability journey has been filled with peaks and valleys, as life tends to be.  We learned how to advocate and navigate through the valleys; and greatly appreciate the folks that supported and assisted us in achieving goals and improved outcomes for our child.  This is why we have nominated someone, every year, for an Excellence In Action Award and we encourage you to do the same! Any parent or caregiver of a student with special needs or the student with special needs can nominate.  There is an opportunity to also nominate a parent for the Millie Bucy Positive Parent Involvement and Community Awards as well.

The submission deadline is Monday, March 20, 2017 by 5 pm! 

The Award Ceremony is simply wonderful, the goodwill and appreciation experienced by nominees, nominators and guests alike is heart warming.

Trust me when I say, sharing gratitude is a cathartic and fulfilling experience for the nominator and the nominees are typically amazed and appreciative to be acknowledged, as humble servants generally are.

Learn more about the Excellence in Action Awards here: fdlrs.mysdhc.org/Parent_Services/EIA

Nominate online here:  www.surveymonkey.com/r/EIA2017


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Florida Department of Education:
Parent Survey – Exceptional Student Education

This survey is for parents of students with individual educational plans (IEP) receiving special education services during the 2016-17 school year. All information provided will remain confidential.

The Florida Department of Education is working with school districts to gather information on how well parents think their child’s school is partnering with parents of students with disabilities, and would like to include your input. Your responses will help guide efforts to improve services and results for children and families.  Survey link: www.esesurvey.com/LoginPlink.php


Check our Disability Resource Hub Calendar for upcoming events like:

Hillsborough County Public Schools: Students with Disabilities:
Superintendent’s Advisory Council for the Education of Students with Disabilities
The primary focus of this council is to identify and recommend systemic strategies that are intended to improve outcomes for all children who have disabilities within Hillsborough County Public Schools.
Meeting Dates: March 3, 2017*, April 7, 2017, May 5, 2017
*Abbreviated Meetings – Committee Work.


Mar 21:  Celebrate World Down Syndrome Day with Gigi’s Playhouse Tampa5 – 7 PM, Centre Club Tampa, 123 S West Shore Blvd, Fl 8th, Tampa, Florida 33609

Author: Phyllis Guthman

"Your Disability Resource Destination" Disability Resource Hub by Phyllis Guthman ©2016 Phyllis Guthman ©2016 Disability Resource Hub ©2016 Disability Resource Diva ©2016 Tampa-Hillsborough Disability Update

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