New Foundation Will Help Exceptional Children

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Two local women have created a new organization aimed at bringing awareness and positive energy to the challenges of special needs families in Suffield. The Foundation for Exceptional Children of Suffield (FECS)will bring awareness and service projects to the special needs community in town.

Sue Davis and Jill Caron, parents of special needs children, were inspired to create the foundation during their recent participation in a Parent Leadership Training Institute in Windsor Locks. PLTI is a 20-week comprehensive program designed to develop potential parent-leaders within the state.

“We decided that there has been a lot of controversy and misinterpretation within the community in regards to special needs children, and we wanted to establish an ongoing foundation to create positivity and awareness and provide information and support to Suffield residents with special needs,” said Davis.

To kick off the start of FECS, Davis and Caron plan for April 28 to be a Light Suffield Up Blue Day with a community ice cream social featuring the town’s first responders; the location will be announced on the FECS Facebook page. The organization has designed t-shirts and is selling them for participants to wear that day.

Each year FECS will design a new program based around special needs. The first program, Project Keep Me Safe, is near and dear to the founders’ hearts: working with first responders (fire, police and ambulance) to discuss better understanding and interaction with children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and how best to respond to them in case of an emergency.

“This is extremely important to my family personally as my son is prone to “eloping” [running off from] even the safest environment when he becomes nervous, frightened or even excited about something or someone,” explained Davis.

She said wandering, among the ASD community, has potentially fatal results. Children with ASD have more than a 50 percent greater chance of eloping than their typical peers and, among those found dead, 90 percent are found near or in a body of water.

FECS is working with Suffield’s first responders and the Autism and Law Enforcement Education Coalition to create the Project Keep Me Safe program for early May and plans to invite first responders from surrounding towns to participate as well.

“I was born and raised in Suffield, and I am happy to help make it a more inclusive place to live and grow,” said Caron. “I come from a family of first responders and see the daily need for more precise education around the special needs community. My goal is to make our community friendly and accommodating to our special needs families.”

FECS is also working on a community presentation for May as well, and Davis encourages anyone interested in FECS to join the new Facebook page to learn about upcoming event details. The organization plans to develop a webpage as well.

Caron is excited about how quickly the organization is gaining support.

“I want our sons to look back one day and see what their moms created with them in mind. All of the children in our community need to be celebrated,” she said.

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