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Well, the support group is already in demand and we’re not even up and running officially yet.

When the flyer went out alerting parents that we were looking for some motivated parents interested in participating in the maintenance and responsibilities of running the group, it took on a life of its own. People were talking about it and sharing the information with one another. This is a good thing, word of mouth is usually the best way to get information to parents in need.

My sponsor, the north central regional coordinator thinks this is going to be one of, if not the most, successful parent support groups they’ve ever had in this region. She’s sure, with all the interest she’s getting and requests for information about the group, that it won’t take us long to develop a large membership.

I’ve managed to arrange to have a number of service providers circulate our monthly flyers and our sponsor has been asked by a county’s health department for information they can disseminate. The sponsor has sent our flyer to parents in a 50 mile radius around the city in which I live, where I want to hold the monthly meetings. She’s also given our flyers and done a mini-presentation on our group to the Early Intervention providers and Special Education Coordinators from school districts in her region. She’s presented to our Intermediate Unit as well.

I’ve been asked to speak at our local Mental Health/Intellectual Disabilities Agency, but need to schedule that after I’ve recovered from my surgery.

We’ve been trying to secure a location for our monthly meetings and may have finally found a place, as a friend of mine gave me a lead that I shared with the sponsor who called to see if she could negotiate an agreement. She’s doing the best she can to help me with some of the details.

We think this lead is going to be successful, as they told the sponsor that they didn’t see a problem, they do host other community groups. I completed the application for building use today and submitted it via email. We are supposed to have a decision by their committee next week.

I’ve got an application for some local funding from a charitable organization located in our city. My sponsor suggested coming up with a project we could work on that the funding would be used for, that that might inspire them to award us a grant. I decided that the group should put together an Advocacy Tool Kit, that provides information and materials beneficial for the parent advocating for their child.

I now need to determine what would be included in that ‘kit’ and start pricing how much it would cost to put a number of them together, create a budget for the group.

I was contacted yesterday by the facilitator of another parent support group in our region that is focused on parents of children and adults with autism. She needs help advocating with her school district to try to get a secondary autism support classroom in their district. I suggested that our groups partner toward that end and that we should meet and discuss the possibility of their group getting on the agenda of the local school board meeting and bringing this need to their attention. There’s a possibility we will be meeting in July when representatives of their group come to my city to meet with two other autism support groups.

If they ask me to speak to members of their group, I’ll be more than willing to do that. Parents being empowered is what it’s all about.

I’m currently working on typing up an Advocacy Guide for the ‘Tool Kit’. Right now it’s more than 30 pages long… LOL I’ve typed up more than 20 documents for the group, including a brochure, flyer, business cards, glossary of terms, a resource guide and a fax cover sheet. I’ve started a Facebook group for the Support Group and established a website and email account for the group, all of which are in use.

I’ve got a press release ready to be posted in the newspaper announcing the first monthly parent meeting in September.

I have a thumb drive to store all the group’s documents on. I’ve already gotten name tags and folders for the ‘core group’ members.

The first four meetings have effectively been planned, with speakers lined up and a networking event planned. I have promises from a number of other individuals for presentations on services available in our region to begin in January of 2013.

I’ve got 62 separate pieces of resource material to share with parents, as I intend to offer a ‘resource table’ at each parent meeting.

I’m absolutely stunned by how interested so many people are in this group.

It’s a staggering amount of work, but I truly believe if this group can help even one parent, then it’s very much worth it.

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