Now, more than ever, our society is focused on the need for an inclusive environment for all our community members regardless of race, culture, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, and neurodiversity, or special needs. The formation of a Haddonfield Special Education Parent Teacher Association (SEPTA) is a natural step towards such efforts.
SEPTA is coming from a group of parents in the district who are interested in asking ourselves what we can do to advocate for children with special needs and to ensure their voices are heard. Many special needs parents in town are already members of their school PTAs—we want to build upon that by forming a parent led district wide SEPTA.
What we envision is not just a collective voice for special needs parents, but other staff, parents, and community members, to help understand and advocate for specific special needs issues within our district. Some ideas would be promotion of more inclusivity in the general education, more supports in school programs/activities for special needs students, disability awareness activities, guest speakers about various topics, community resources for parents, and a support forum for parents.
As our district continues to ‘Grow in Excellence’ we should always strive to do things better. The research shows that inclusivity benefits everyone. Everyone needs to learn about differences and how to better support and advocate for those who need a voice—disability issues are civil rights issues. Special needs children are part of our society now and in the future, they will grow up and be our neighbors, colleagues, family members, and friends. Haddonfield needs a SEPTA to partner together with the community at large to not only advocate for our special needs students but to improve outcomes for all the children within Haddonfield.
Tom and Ellen Woodcock