SEPTA Welcomes Families to 2019-20 School Year
SEPTA Holds Meet and Greet to Welcome Families
Parents Learn about Community Supports, Suggest Workshop Topics
At the Special Education PTA’s first meeting of the year on Sept. 18, parents met with representatives of community organizations that offer training, supports and recreational opportunities for children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
They also spoke with SEPTA leadership about what workshops and activities they would find most helpful.
“We’re going to try to tailor our programming based on what our families really need,” new SEPTA President Anne Marie Cellante said at the Welcome Back Coffee, which took place at the Rye Lake Campus.
One of the topics parents asked SEPTA to focus on is how students and their families can cope with anxiety. Others said their families would like more information about making transitions and acquiring life skills.
“We’re trying to cast a wide net to adequately serve the needs of our students and families,” Ms. Cellante said.
She announced that SEPTA’s annual Holiday Party would take place Dec. 18.
Fiona Rattray of Putnam Independent Living Services said her organization’s Parent Training and Information Center offers advice, information and training about different aspects of the special education process, such as how to handle a Committee on Special Education meeting and understanding evaluations and individualized education programs. The Putnam group is part of Westchester Independent Living Center.
“You can call us at any time if you have an issue,” said Ms. Rattray, a SEPTA parent in Arlington, Dutchess County. “If we can’t answer it, we will certainly put you in touch with someone who can.”
Another organization at the meeting was the Music Conservatory of Westchester’s Music Therapy Institute, which works with children and adults from around the region.
The Music Therapy Institute uses music to accomplish goals that can be non-musical, such as taking turns, sharing and negotiating, Co-Director Lisa Sandagata said. “Music is a bridge, and it’s a universal community builder, so we’re building a community together,” she said.
Another community group at the meeting was the Arc Westchester, which assists people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Its services include early intervention, transition services, recreation and life skills, career services, guardianship and more.
Jacie Feuer, the Arc’s new transition services director, said the organization is expanding the types of jobs and locations it is placing clients in, such as law offices and bakeries. People of all abilities are working in these settings, including verbal and non-verbal, mobile and non-mobile.
Arc of Westchester is exploring the possibility of setting up programs and supports in post-secondary schools to help young adults work, live and study on college campuses. Arc is working with the staff of Impact U at Concordia College and helping set up internships for students. Impact U is a two-year program for adults 18-26 with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
“What I’m looking forward to being able to do is connecting with individual families and helping you to figure out what the plan is in the next few years to help your child become prepared the best that they can for that transition, and to know what your options are,” she said.