The Volunteer Advocacy Project

FALL 2017 Highlights

Johnnie Hatten, Melody Liu and Holli Foster (pictured, from left) recently graduated from the Volunteer Advocacy Project (VAP), which The Arc Mid-South offers in association with Vanderbilt Kennedy Center in Nashville. The 12-week class trains individuals who want to become advocates for families as they navigate their way through the world of special education.

Forty hours of instruction focuses on key disability legislation such as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which ensures that students with disabilities are provided with free appropriate public education tailored to their individual needs.  After completing the program, each VAP graduate is required to advocate for four families during Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings to ensure that their children receive a quality education.  

“Since completing the training in the fall 2015, I’ve helped more than 30 families effectively advocate for their children,” VAP graduate Cathy Harper told Vanderbilt University in 2016. “I’ve assisted with reviewing records, composing letters and researching additional resources, formulating strategy, and attending IEP meetings…. Above all, I’ve encouraged each and every one of them to get the same education I have and register for the course.”

More than 300 people have graduated from VAP since it began in fall 2008, including more than 20 people who have attended the class at The Arc Mid-South’s offices in Memphis and watched via video conference.


FALL 2016 Highlights

The Fall 2016 VAP graduates

The Arc Mid-South hosted the fall session of the Volunteer Advocacy Project on Tuesday mornings. Participants attended 12 sessions to become trained as special education advocates to provide support to families of children with disabilities.

The VAP training, part of an initiative with the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center in Nashville, is held twice each year. Various topics related to special education advocacy are taught: evaluations and eligibility, individualized education plans, assistive technology, discipline provisions, behavior intervention plans, non-adversarial advocacy techniques, legislative change, least restrictive environment, and extended school year services. The training included information supplied by professors, attorneys, parents of children with disabilities, and advocates. Reading assignments of relevant laws and regulations accompany each class session. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer advocate, please contact Sandra Hawkins at (901) 327- 2473 or shawkins@thearcmidsouth.org.

 

The Fall 2015 VAP graduates

The fall session of the Volunteer Advocacy Project for 2015 was hosted on Wednesday evenings from August to November. Participants attended 12 sessions where they were trained to become special education advocates to provide instrumental and effective support to families of children with disabilities.


The Fall 2014 VAP graduates, accompanied by The Arc Mid-South's Community Advocate, Sandra Hawkins

    The Arc Mid-South hosted The Volunteer Advocacy Project in fall 2013

    VAP 2013

    The Fall 2013 VAP graduates, accompanied by The Arc Mid-South’s Executive Director, Carlene Leaper,
    and Sandra Hawkins, Community Advocate

    The fall session of the Volunteer Advocacy Project was hosted on Monday mornings from August to November.  Participants attended 12 sessions where they were trained to become special education advocates so they can provide instrumental and effective support to families of children with disabilities.  The 12 recent graduates join the other 11 Memphis area graduates as they help parents realize their dreams for their children with disabilities

    The training is held twice per year.  In the training, various topics related to special education advocacy are taught: evaluations and eligibility, individualized education plans, assistive technology, discipline provisions, behavior intervention plans, non-adversarial advocacy techniques, legislative change, least restrictive environment, and extended school year services.  The training also has various speakers including professors, attorneys, parents of children with disabilities, and advocates.   Reading assignments of relevant laws and regulations accompany each class session.  If you are interested in becoming a volunteer advocate, please contact Sandra Hawkins at (901) 327-2473 or shawkins@thearcmidsouth.org.

    The Arc Mid-South hosted The Volunteer Advocacy Project in fall 2012 for 6 weeks.

         

    L to R : Alicia Haney, Becky Plank, Sheri Terrell, and Benetia Johnson

    L to R : Executive Director Carlene Leaper, Alicia Haney, Becky Plank, Sheri Terrell, Benetia Johnson, and community advocate Sandra Hawkins

     


 

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