Last week, we shared a look back, highlighting the Special Education Foundation's impact on students served by the Special School District in 2023. It was a fantastic year as we helped nearly 6,000 students through our various programs.
But there’s still so much more for us to do to help students succeed in and out of the classroom, and we’re excited about what’s ahead for us in 2024.
Let’s start with some important dates to add to the calendar.
Each year, we honor the achievements of the current class from the Fred Saigh Leadership Academy with a graduation ceremony, which will take place on Wednesday, May 1st, at the Emerson Auditorium in St. Luke’s Hospital in Chesterfield.
On Thursday, May 9th, we hope you’ll join us for a new partnership between SSD and SEF. Inspiring Futures: The SSD and SEF Scholarships and Awards ceremony will also occur at the Emerson Auditorium to celebrate student success.
Over the past year, SEF’s Women Leaders have been kicking around several ideas to raise funds and awareness of the difference SEF has on students served by SSD. While we aren’t prepared to share anything more specific right now, we want to encourage you to save the date of Thursday, June 13, 2024 for a new event that will honor how individuals' actions positively impact students' lives. More to come, so stay tuned.
And last, but certainly not least, SEF’s biggest fundraiser of the year, the Dan McLaughlin Charity Golf Tournament and Auction, is set for Norwood Hills Country Club on Monday, October 14, 2024.
We are also working on new programs in 2024 that will help students discover their potential, express their individuality, and become more independent.
Our Arts in the Classroom initiative will expand this year with new partnerships and performances, bringing music, theater, and more to students who may never have the opportunity to experience the performing arts in person.
Next month, The Black Rep will perform a play at Neuwoehner High School, followed by Puss In Boots by The Imaginary Theatre Company at Litzsinger School in March. Later this spring, members of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra will be performing for the students at Southview School. Looking ahead to next school year, SEF is working with Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and Jazz St. Louis for in-school performances that will dazzle and delight students.
Mobility is more than just movement; it's the key to independence and development in children.
Historically, the primary focus for children with physical disabilities was on walking, followed by self-propelling a wheelchair. Power mobility was often seen as a last resort, only considered for those who met specific requirements.
This year, SEF will be working to overcome some of the barriers that exist by giving students greater autonomy through power mobility.
In the coming months, we’ll be sharing more about The Mobility Project, which is designed to help children with mobility limitations because we believe it enhances independence, improves development, and empowers them to become integrated members of society.
This year, another area we are working on is empowering middle and high school students diagnosed with autism with social skills development to enjoy independent lives with meaningful employment and good friends.
That’s why this year, SEF is embarking on the Autism Independence Project, a pilot project using iSocial, an evidence-based social intervention therapy created at the Thompson Center for Autism & Neurodevelopmental Disorders at the University of Missouri in Columbia that has proven effective with more than 1,000 students in 17 separate university studies. In those studies, the communication confidence of students improved by 44% on the Social Responsiveness Scale.
SEF is currently raising funds to begin both of these programs this year. If you want to learn how to help, please contact Tim Eby, SEF’s Executive Director.
We’re excited about bringing these new programs to students, but we’re also committed to continuing to expand our existing programs. We’ll keep you posted on our progress in this newsletter and our website.
Finally, the work we do at SEF to help students served by SSD would not be possible without the generous support from hundreds of individuals, businesses, and foundations in the St. Louis region.