The annual Parents as Advocates for Change in Education (P.A.C.E.) symposium held workshops on Saturday, Oct. 7 for parents to meet educators to become aware of policies that affect special education.
Dr. Jennifer Lane, dean of the college of human development, opened the symposium by stating the importance of education advocacy. “Each child is valuable, and remembering that value can help continue fighting which can sometimes feel like an uphill battle.
“P.A.C.E. is committed to helping parents create a voice in advocating for their children of all abilities and disabilities…Often not being able to speak for themselves, having an advocate is invaluable. Part of the great value of gathering as we are today is helping to make sure that as advocates, you all are even better informed. Many people know when something's not right, but don’t know enough to speak up.
BYUH education majors helped register participants, lead them to the various workshops, and supervise children in the kid’s zone. Students stressed the importance of getting parents and professionals together to effectively address the needs of students with intellectual and learning disabilities.
Karen Gurth, an alumni from Laie doing her student teaching, said, “For parents, I think it helps to have events like this so they can have answers to their questions. Parents usually get sent around to different people not really getting answers to their questions. At events like this, they get direct face to face help with people who are experienced and knowledgeable.”
Lane said, “The routine expectations for ‘normal people’ don’t always fit the needs of every child. It takes courage to ask for help, and use the legal protections that are available.”
Parents from the community gathered to learn more about special services in education. “[Advocacy is] really important because our schools are lacking some of the support that they need,” said Kristin Latu, a parent and Laie community member. “Our teachers are lacking the support they need. If parents don’t stand up for their children’s needs, the children suffer.”
Amy Carrasco, a junior elementary education major from Utah and parent, said, “Energizing the environment for our children to create a healthier space for them to learn in is important. You can guide the teachers in your children’s special needs and help the different resources meet their maximum potential.”
Camilla Dickson, a senior from Utah studying elementary education, said, “As I’ve been in classes, we learn that there are laws and small things that can really make a difference, and if you are not actively letting your educator know about them, you can miss out on a lot of things.”
Alexis Spencer, a junior from Utah majoring in elementary education, said, “It’s important to know what’s happening in schools and what the laws are. Parents can make all the difference if they want to.”