Family Weekend Retreat 2021
For the second year, we celebrated Family Weekend Retreat in a different way. Instead of meeting in person due to the Pandemic, the SOC team provided a wonderful opportunity to hear from speakers on a virtual platform. For a whole week, presenters shared a wealth of information, expertise, experiences, and knowledge with parents and professionals. In total, we had 357 participants for the FWR livestream (an average of 71 per evening). The families who registered were sent activities for their children to enjoy while their parents were participating in the livestream presentations.
We had a total of 5 presenters and a panel of 4 young adults. Claire Bugen welcomed us to FWR by encouraging us to get to know other families of deaf and hard of hearing children and reminded us of the power of networking. Debbie White gave a fascinating presentation about Deaf and hearing culture. Dr. Jaime (JB) Wilson provided a thoughtful presentation about keeping families together by addressing issues of addiction. Djenne-amal Morris shared her personal and professional journey as a mother of a son with CHARGE Syndrome and the need for parents and professionals to be the bridge in collaboration. Debbie White facilitated a panel of deaf and hard of hearing young adults who shared their experiences growing up, the educational and professional paths they pursued, and inspired the audience tremendously that our children can live full and meaningful lives. The Wainscotts shared their family journey and encouraged us to be intentional about the adventure and providing a language-rich home. We wrapped up the week on Saturday with in-person family fun events hosted by Guide By Your Side Guides, and the ASTra Coordinator. 8 regional events occurred with approximately 71 adults and 46 children in attendance.
While we missed seeing everyone in person, we have learned to master virtual platforms these past 2 years. Many thanks to the ASL and Spanish interpreters, the SOC staff, and the FWR technical team who worked very hard to make sure the livestreaming went smoothly (and to quickly fix the bugs). Truly, our theme of “Families, Better Together” rang true throughout our virtual experience!
There were many lessons learned, old reminders and several takeaways from our week together. Here are a few comments from our participants:
“I had a wonderful start to the Family Weekend Retreat. I learned so much more about deaf culture in this small amount of time and am looking forward to the rest of the week.”
“ What a beautiful and encouraging story of communication. It helped me realize the need for knowledge and culture of the Deaf community.
“The need for a bridge so we can have a great source of collaboration. It also helped me realize the trust and effort it takes for parents of deaf or hard of hearing to request interpreters, or look for services that will fit their needs.’
“Today's topic was very interesting. It had me thinking about my life personally and things I need to change to better my life personally.”
"I really enjoyed the positive environment. Great information and personal experiences were provided by each presenter."
We would like to thank all of our partners—ESC Region 13, ESC Region 11, Texas Hands & Voices/Guide By Your Side (TX H&V/GBYS), Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI), and all the participating Education Service Centers (ESC) for their support and assistance. Without these partners and our wonderful presenters, this event would not have been possible.
We are looking forward to an exciting Family Weekend Retreat in 2022! Stay tuned for the dates to be announced!
Enjoy some of our photos from the Family Week Retreat 2021