Metro Campus promotes Special Needs students with a Resource Fair

For the parents of students with disabilities there can be a lot of questions and thoughts about the future possibilities.

The parent foresees an uncertain future for their child and does not know how to propel their kid into a state of independence. But there is good news for those concerned moms and dads, Tulsa and the TCC community hosted a Disability Resource Fair to allow the students and parents to examine the options the students have in school or in a career.

Graduation rates for students with disabilities has climbed steadily for the last couple of years and the trend is expected to continue to rise. Tracey Weaver, director for the Bridges Foundation of Tulsa, said “[This] is a huge amount of students graduating and a lot of parents are asking what happens next and what’s available for my kid.” The resource fair provides the many students and parents with information on subjects such as guardianship, social security, and with school and job opportunities.

Father of an 18-year old with down syndrome, Michael Conte, says “No matter what your special need for your child. This event is invaluable.” Michael Conte’s son, Anthony, is a spectacular man with down-syndrome but according to his dad “he struggles to understand right from wrong.” For Anthony, services like guardianship and social security can be priceless for the assurances   give.

“The key things that reassured us was the guardianship and social security services because there are a lot of uncertainties about having a young adult with special needs.” says Michael Conte.

Father and son with down syndrome, Michael and Anthony Conte found the Guardianship services most helpful.

Several different partners around the Tulsa community pitched in to offer students with the resources they need to become successful. Some groups offered aid for students with vision or hearing impairments. Others assisted with skills testing and for job awareness. One could see the tables dispersed evenly across the room from several different non-school groups, like Bridges whom works with the Department of Rehabilitation Services (DRS).

“We have several different groups, we have Special Olympics, Goodwill, New Leaf…,” says Weaver. Everyone at the tables in some way is ensuring the future for these students. Whether it is companies willing to train and hire them or groups dedicated to providing educational resources to these students that may need help to reach their full potential.

Several speakers spoke at the fair “discussing guardianship, DRS, Department of Homeland Security, Soc. Security, etc.,” says Weaver. These programs and organizations provide valuable insights for parents with children of disabilities.

TCC’s Disability Resource Fair goes back to 2003 and at the time “only Broken Arrow and TCC were participating,” says Lonnie Wilson, director for the TCC Education Access Center. Wilson recognized that events like these could make a great change in the community of Tulsa.

(L-R) Front Row: Katie Norman & Lonnie WIlson; Back Row: Kathy Daily, Amber Bagwell, Stacy Nobel, Adriene Morecraft, and Anna Gambill; they helped organize the fair.

“I talked to the guy involved and I was like why don’t we get the entire community to invest in this,” says Wilson

Since then educational outreaches have done great work in the lives of special-needs adults.

“We had several students who attended and went onto graduate from TCC to go on to a four-year university, one student went on to get their master’s degree,” comments Wilson.

These students have great potential but they certainly need assistance in attaining their dreams just like anyone of us. The parents that have uncertainties or worries do not need to have the same fears that they had 10 years ago. With these resources, futures are becoming accomplished.

“The people who work with our special needs children are priceless. Because all our special needs children are special in their own way,” says Michael Conte.