Smart Kids with Learning Disabilities, the Westport-based nonprofit, will hold its First Annual Smart Walk for Smart Kids with Learning Disabilities, Sunday, October 21 with registration starting at 12 p.m. at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport.
A breakthrough community event and the only one of its kind in the region, the Walk will celebrate the strengths and talents of young people with learning disabilities and ADHD, reject the stigma long attached to these issues, and empower parents. The event will raise awareness and funds for the organization’s educational programs, youth mentoring, parent networking, and extensive resources to help families find the support their children need to be successful in school and in life.
Registration is available in advance at https://smartwalkforskld.dojiggy.com/. The entry fee is $15 per person; there is no charge for children under 5. Individuals, families, and teams are welcome to walk the approximate 1.5-mile scenic route at their own pace. Additional activities include a photo booth, children’s crafts, games, and face painting plus music by local school groups featuring the empowering song, “This Is Me,” by Golden Globe award-winning composer Justin Paul, who grew up in Westport. The event will be held rain or shine, and parking is free.
Robert Tudisco, a nationally-known disability rights attorney with Barger & Gaines, author, and motivational speaker, will serve as MC. “Smart Kids with Learning Disabilities provides so much information and support for families, so please join us to support a great cause,” said Tudisco, an adult diagnosed with ADHD and former member of the National Board of Directors of Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder (CHADD).
Smart Kids with Learning Disabilities relies on parent volunteers to whom the organization has provided life-changing support to help produce educational programs and events in many Connecticut communities. Shannon Rabbett, whose son with dyslexia struggled during his first years in school, is now a Hartford chapter leader. “As I coordinate meetings for Smart Kids and meet other parents who are in the same shoes I was in just a few years ago, choking back tears, searching for answers to help their children, I know that they’ve come to the right place,” said Rabbett.
The most recent data from 2016 – 2017 (Connecticut State Department of Education) shows almost 26,000 children in Connecticut diagnosed with specific learning disabilities and nearly 15,000 with other health-related impairments, including ADHD for a total of over 40,500, or 59 percent of children identified for special education in the state. The International Dyslexia Association estimates that 10 percent of school-aged children are dyslexic, and according to the 2016 National Survey of Children’s Health, 6.1 million youngsters were diagnosed with ADHD. According to the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD), 18 percent of students with learning disabilities are likely to drop out of high school, three times the rate of their peers.
About Smart Kids with Learning Disabilities
Founded in 2000 by Westport resident Jane Ross, executive director, Smart Kids with Learning Disabilities has since grown to include chapters in Stamford/Greenwich, Westport/Wilton, Northern Fairfield County, and Hartford. Its mission is to educate, guide, and inspire parents of children with learning disabilities and ADHD. SKLD helps parents realize their children’s significant gifts and talents, and shows that with their love, guidance, and the right support, their children can live happy and productive lives. The organization provides an award-winning website and blog, free e-newsletter, and educational programs and support so parents can be effective advocates for their children. For more information, visit www.smartkidswithld.org
Smart Kids with Learning Disabilities is grateful for the support of its gold sponsors: Fusion Academy Greenwich and Fairfield, and The Canell Group at J. P Morgan Securities; silver sponsors: Lindamood-Bell Learning Processes of Darien, The Southport School and Winston Preparatory School; bronze sponsors: Barger & Gaines, Center for Pediatric Therapy, Links Academy, The Pinnacle School, the Starfish Foundation and Timberlake Camps, and The Windward School; activities sponsors: Maserati of Westport and Sensory Kids; snack sponsors: Trader Joe’s and RXBAR; and media sponsors Westport Magazine/Moffly Media, WSHU and Macaroni Kid.