Years before Turtle Wing was organized, founder DeeAnn Hooper was wishing there was a way to connect with other parents of children with learning challenges. Like many other parents of special needs children, she felt as if their family functioned in a silo and was disconnected from other families facing the same struggles. When creating the foundation in memory of her son, Jack, who was at the heart of her special education journey, Mrs. Hooper made Community Education and Advocacy one of the pillars of the good works to come. Community Education involves programming such as the Parent Support Network, continuing education for educators and daycares, and character education programming for the youth. Any parent or guardian of a child who has learning challenges is encouraged to be a part of the Parent Support Network. The simplest part of the network is communication via e-mail and Facebook of resources, information, training and social connections. Quarterly there are family gatherings which have historically involved a back-to-school pool party, gatherings just for moms and dads, as well as a romantic couples event at Valentine’s Day. Throughout the year there are training opportunities regarding maneuvering the special education process, advocating for your child, and transition planning towards adulthood to name just a few. Additionally, an ADHD support group has been added. Respite opportunities or childcare during trainings are available as often as possible. When a family moves to the Turtle Wing service area or receives a diagnosis for their child that suggests learning differences, parents or guardians are encouraged to contact the foundation. Though officed in Schulenburg (723 Upton Ave.) participants have been from Colorado, Fayette, Lavaca, and surrounding counties with academic, social-emotional, behavioral and/or developmental needs. Families may contact managing director, Susie Shank, at (979)505-5090. Additionally, basic paperwork to enroll in the Parent Support Network may be found on the website www.turtlewingfoundation.org under the ‘Get Involved’ tab. Particularly during the homeschooling that was mandated by the COVID 19 crisis, the foundation is hoping more families will reach out and allow Turtle Wing to help them through this tough time. The supplemental services scholarship budget has been increased to provide the added support families are needing. Turtle Wing programming includes Early Intervention, Supplemental Services, and Community Education and Advocacy. In last school year Turtle Wing helped to provide direct services to 325 children, with thousands more being impacted by their outreach programming. To learn more about Turtle Wing Foundation visit the website or follow them on Facebook at @turtlewingfoundation.
(l-r) Pam Benbenek, Susie Shank, Joe Benbenek, Tony Shank, Greg Vrana, and Amy Vrana attending the Valentine’s Day Couples Outing for Turtle Wing Foundation