Ron Knapp describes his early experiences advocating for his son, Gavin, as "stumbling in the dark." Planning meetings for Gavin where numerous professionals sat around a large table felt intimidating and caused Ron to sometimes get defensive.

Ron and Gavin webGavin, who is four years old, began receiving early intervention services at age eighteen months to address speech delays related to hearing issues. A family member led Ron to Starbridge, where he learned about the Family Empowerment Series, designed to help parents build skills and knowledge to advocate effectively for their children and work collaboratively with their schools. Ron signed up for the series. He comments:

"I wanted to be a voice for Gavin, to be informed on what was available for his education. Gavin needs to have the opportunity to be all he can be."

Ron credits the Family Empowerment Series with helping him to become a more effective advocate for Gavin: "Knowing the rights of children was very valuable. Knowing who to contact when I did not have the answers was very valuable." Ron also learned how important it is to seek to understand others' perspectives and forge positive working relationships with them.

The first school meeting that Ron attended for Gavin after completing the Family Empowerment Series felt very different than previous meetings. Although he was admittedly nervous, he felt ready. He had developed a PowerPoint presentation to introduce Gavin to the committee. Ron received several compliments after the meeting about his presentation.

Equipped with new skills, awareness, and knowledge, Ron feels more prepared to work with the school team to ensure that Gavin gets what he needs to be successful. Gavin is thriving in his current program, receiving the services he needs and showing constant improvement. Notes Ron, "I am thankful to Starbridge for equipping me with the knowledge, resources, and support to advocate on Gavin's behalf and would highly recommend Starbridge to any parent no matter what stage of the special education process they are in."

 

Starbridge's Family Empowerment Series is offered each year. For more information, please visit our "Empowering Families" page.