I would like to tell you a little more about me and my organization and what I may be able to do for you.
I am the President of the Karen Gaffney Foundation. Our Mission Statement is included in this web site. I hope you will take the time to read it, if you haven't already. We are dedicated to championing the journey to full inclusion in families, schools, communities and the workplace for people with Down syndrome or other learning disabilities.
If you are counseling new parents who have just had or will have a child born with Down syndrome, I may be able to help you. Parents faced with this new challenge usually want information right away. I know my parents certainly did. They need to know that they are not alone. And they need to see the potential their children have to learn and grow to their fullest potential. I have experience speaking to parent groups about how early intervention programs helped me get a head start on what has become a JOURNEY OF A LIFETIME.
Our Foundation has produced a very powerful video "Journey of a Lifetime…. Beginning with the End in Mind." This video has some very important messages for new parents, their families and friends that will help them see the positive and rewarding challenges they have in front of them. This information will instill hope for a full and productive life in the hearts and minds of new parents. The messages will motivate families to new thinking and positive action to begin immediately building up, day by day, the potential of their child.
If you are and educator or trainer who is helping to promote full inclusion in the classroom, or a better understanding of the feelings of people with disabilities, I would appreciate the opportunity to help you as well. Because of all the hard work and the support I was given, I was able to go all through school fully included in the regular classroom. I earned a regular high school diploma from St. Mary's Academy in Portland, Oregon in June 1997. I graduated from Portland Community College in March of 2001, where I completed the requirements for an Associates of Science degree and a certificate to be a teacher's aide.
So how can I help you? Well... I know what it feels like to be considered different from everyone else. I know how hard it is to make friends when you have a disability like mine. I would like to the opportunity to share some of my feelings with students, counselors and teachers. I believe that I can help raise expectations of the capabilities that fellow students with Down syndrome or other disabilities have to contribute to the world around them, and to be a friend to others. I know that everyone has differences. But most people can hide their differences better than people like me. I am trying to help myself, and others too, overcome challenges so that some day, our differences won't matter as much... and ... it will be easier for us to make friends and be an active part of the schools we attend.
The Karen Gaffney Foundation has also produced a new video, "Opening Doors of Tomorrow, Today." It is an important video with timely messages for educators, paraprofessionals and families of students with developmental disabilities. Professionals from Exceptional Parent Magazine, the Division on Career Development and Transition, and the National Down Syndrome Society have given it fantastic reviews. I feel it is an important piece of information for anyone who is dealing with the issue of full inclusion, and the keys to successful inclusion in a regular classroom.
Finally, I have much experience speaking as a keynote presenter for many organizations, such as national and state chapters of The Arc, the NDSC, TASH, CEC, Parent to Parent groups, as well as for various regional, state and local Down syndrome support organizations around the country. You can see the engagements I have currently booked here on the website, as well as the past calendars. I would like to help organizations such as these build community involvement and awareness to promote inclusion and support for all people with disabilities.
Through personal appearances or through the videos we produce, our Foundation will increase awareness and raise expectations of parents, students, educators, counselors, the medical profession and the community at large of the incredible capabilities of people with disabilities.
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We Need Your Help.