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Special-ed groups unite for informational fair

Courtesy of Clearview Regional School District
The fair will provide special-education students and their parents with information on resources available to them locally and throughout the county.

The Special Education Parent Advisory Groups (SEPAG) of the Mantua, Harrison Township and Clearview Regional school districts are teaming up to present the SEPAG Community Fair at Clearview Middle School on Thursday March 21.

The fair – which will take place between 6:30 and 8 p.m. – will provide special-education students not just in those school districts but others throughout the county with information about resources available to them.

State and local vendors from various education groups and local organizations will be on hand to provide information about transitioning services; student graduations and aging out of high school, sports clubs and activities; and therapeutic and informational services. Families are welcome at any point during the event.

“We try to bring the resources to the families,” said Harrison Township Director of Student Services Lori Hynes. “We bring these resources all into one place. Last year, we had around 50 vendors, with more expected to come this year. We’ll get more vendors coming in the week of the event. It gets bigger and bigger every year.”

Some of the organizations expected at the fair include Rowan College of South Jersey; TOPSports in Mullica Hill; Autism New Jersey Inc.; and Avenues to Independent Living, among others. Inclusion Coffee Shop in Elmer – which employs only people with disabilities – will also be represented.

“The fair is for parents who aren’t sure about the resources they can use to help their children,” Hynes explained. “The event is giving them access to these resources all in one place in order to get their kids involved with help.”

The help is available to students of all ages, whether a child who has yet to be diagnosed with a disability or an 18-year-old moving on from high school.

The SEPAG of each district worked closely with Hynes, Mantua Director of Special Services Stephanie Logan and Clearview Director of Special Services Nathan Barnes to create the event. The first fair occurred a decade ago and now alternates between Mantua, Clearview and Harrison.

“Nine to 10 years ago, we had all active parental advisory groups come together and handle everything,” Hynes recalled. “Eventually, as parents began moving on and their work varied, we began to handle most of the work in order to provide the best event possible.”

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