Welcome to the Special Education Alliance 4 Eastern North Carolina (SEAL4ENC). This organization is actively working to unite parents, students, teachers and professionals in various facets of educational opportunities to create system change. We believe that education is the key to filling the gap in the area of special education for disabled citizens in Eastern North Carolina. We are located at 148 Chaney Avenue, Jacksonville NC 28540. We will assist families through workshops, websites, one on one educational support, lending library, on site literature, telephone assistance, anti-bullying awareness and Life skills support for our disabled community.
Mission Statement Mission Statement: SEAL4ENC will play a vital role for parents and professionals who support our disabled community in Eastern North Carolina. Clients will become empowered to achieve the highest most effective outcome in education, health and wellness through our resources. We are a vehicle to independence and educational freedom.
One of the first steps in educating our community is learning about the laws governing special education.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a law that safeguards and establishes services for children and young adults ( birth to 21) with disabilities. IDEA governs how states and public agencies provide early intervention, special education and related services to eligible infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities. Infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families receive early intervention services under IDEA Part C. Children and youth receive special education and related services under IDEA Part B. Here is a website that breaks the IDEA down in the simplest terms. http://www.cmu.edu/hr/eos/forms/IDEA_504_ADA.pdf
Section 504 is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities. Section 504 ensures that the child with a disability has equal access to an education. The child may receive accommodations and modifications. Unlike the IDEA,Section 504 does not require the school to provide and individual educational program ( IEP), that is not in place to meet the child’s unique needs and provides the child with educational benefit. Under the Section 504, fewer procedural safeguards are available to children with disabilities and their parents than under the IDEA. Its recommended you follow the link to Wrights law for more information. http://www.wrightslaw.com/idea/law.htm
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Wendy Boyd has spent the past seven years working to provide a place where families of special needs children can find resources and education.
And now she needs just a little more help getting there.
In February, Boyd found a convenient location at the former Onslow Pregnancy Resource Center building on Chaney Avenue in downtown Jacksonville. But the building is in need of interior and exterior renovations, which Boyd estimates will cost $10,000.
As the parents of a 15-year-old daughter with Down syndrome, Wendy said she and her husband Robert know how it feels to be voice for a child who can’t express her need for individuality and acceptance.
“I always wanted Lauren to be treated like everyone else and when she started school, I had to advocate for Lauren because I wanted her included in the regular classrooms,” Boyd said. “That’s what has pushed me and it’s not just for Lauren, but for all the kids. There has to be more Laurens out there who want to fit in and understand things.”
In 2005, Boyd created Special Education Alliance, or SEAL, a nonprofit organization that connects parents, grandparents, professionals and caregivers to increase their knowledge and become advocates in disabled children’s education.
SEAL provides information about special education laws and resources for life skills, sports and recreations organizations and agencies in Eastern North Carolina that provide services and support for special needs families. It’s an organization that was needed when Boyd and her family moved to Jacksonville 12 years ago due to the military. She started a temporary Down syndrome support group until saw a greater need to provide resources for all special needs children.
“I was looking for resources and there were none,” Boyd said. “I started this group to able be able to touch more people. We won’t just be focusing on kids with Down syndrome or autism, but it can be for anyone who is affected by some type of disability to come and get resources that they need.”
Boyd and other parents give presentations before school boards and legislative committees and organized free workshops for parents and professionals of special needs children on topics ranging from writing effective individual education plans to positive behavior support and inclusion.
“I’ve basically been doing it out of my house,” Boyd said. “In the past I’ve had 15 workshops where I brought people in who would teach people for free on how to support their student with special needs.”
More local support groups emerged over the years, which prompted Boyd to search for a location to collaborate with other agencies like the Family Support Network of the Crystal Coast, The Exceptional Children’s Assistance Center and others as a one stop center for the community.
“There was a need for it, and she found an opportunity and it’s just begun to expand. It’s just ordinary people trying to do exceptional things,” Robert Boyd said. “You can do a lot for your children, and it takes time but it’s not difficult. Once you’re empowered and educated, it becomes easier.”
Boyd said that her goal is to provide office spaces for agencies, a lending library with educational material for families and a life skills center with a kitchen to teach children and young adults up to age 21 useful tips for developing independence.
“That would be the icing on the cake, and I see that my daughter needs it so I know there are others out there who need life skills as well,” Boyd said. “Kids could come here and learn how to cook, but we would need funding and grants to get this center running.”
Boyd also plans to host a series of fundraisers in upcoming months. Items such as computers, books and an outdoor wheelchair ramp would be necessary additions for the center. Although her dream has required years of determination and labor, Boyd said that she wants to help military and civilian families overcome the challenges that she faced to provide more opportunities and a better life for Lauren and other children like her.
“My focus is to get the word out, apply for grants and to just let people know that we exist and we want to become something bigger than what we are now,” Boyd said. “Once you have a central location, more people will get involved and speak up for their kids because our children often don’t have a voice.”
For more information or to donate, visit SEAL4ENC.org.
Contact Daily News Features Writer Aniesa Holmes at 910-219-8473 or email@example.com.
Jacksonville nonprofit serving those with special needs gets permanent home
JACKSONVILLE — A Jacksonville-based nonprofit that connects families with resources for special needs children will soon have a permanent home.
The Special Education Alliance for Eastern North Carolina has been run for the last seven years out of the home of founder Wendy Boyd. Boyd said she created the organization after having a difficult time finding resources for her daughter Lauren.
“This community is very transient so people come in and out and they don’t know where to go and that’s what I found when I first moved here,” said Boyd.
Now SEAL4ENC is preparing to move into a building once renovations are complete and they will share it with other groups dedicated to the same cause. Teresa Leriche is director of the Family Support Network of the Crystal Coast and his organization will have an office in the building at 148 Chaney Ave. in Jacksonville.
“Our vision is to have kind of a one stop shopping situation here where when families come into the area or families that are already in the area are looking for resources or information or where they can get services they can come here and get all that,” said Leriche.
SEAL4ENC is raising funds for roof repair and wants to build a wheelchair ramp at the entrance of their building. The group plans to move into the building sometime next year.
By: Kevin Reopelle