Following a year like 2020, and thinking about all that happened, I am thrilled that the words that come to mind as I think specifically about the WSA are: grateful, humbled, appreciative, and so importantly, proud and excited.

2020 for the WSA began much like we had hoped – with celebrations of an excellent 2019 which had seen program and income growth, research advances, and a remarkable gift providing the WSA with the funding needed to create a clinical consortium for Williams syndrome.

COVID-19 has dramatically changed the landscape of school in general and special education in particular. Schools may be face-to-face, hybrid, virtual, or some combination of all of those things.  IEP meetings are conducted over zoom and service provision for therapies and social work has completely changed.

Joelle Packard recently embarked on a new journey and moved into her dorm to start the college program CarolinaLIFE at University of South Carolina.

The coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic has had a dramatic impact on everyone.  As an increasing number of places begin loosening their initial restrictions, every family is now struggling to establish a “new normal”.  

When the country was first shutting down and we were forced to cancel the walks, and then the convention and then the camps, it was difficult to imagine how we could ever meet our programming goals or operations budget for 2020.  In a matter of weeks, we lost the source (awareness walks and events) of more than 80% of our program funding, as well as our primary programs for individuals with Williams syndrome and their families.

Discrimination and racism go against our deeply held values of inclusion and equity.

Dear Friends,

I hope this message finds you and your loved ones healthy and able to find moments of enjoyment despite social distancing, interrupted work schedules, and new family demands. As spring emerges and we're able to celebrate the new season, I hope these moments might even bring a sense of rejuvenation.

At the WSA, we are also focused on rejuvenation-the process of making something fresh or new again.

As National Volunteer Week comes to a close, and with awareness month just around the corner, I want to take a moment to thank all of the amazing volunteers who are part of the WSA community.  I wish that I could thank each of you personally for the time, energy and dedication that you provide to the WSA.

Dear families and friends,

As I sat down to write this update, I was reminded that the statement "what a difference a day makes" has never meant more than it has each day over the past several weeks - not just for me and you, but for our children, and for everyone worldwide.

We understand that school closures and social distancing can be hard for kids to understand, and difficult for caregivers who are suddenly in the role of “teacher.”  

When advocating for your child with WS or for yourself, it is important to recognize that WS is a rare enough disorder that most healthcare professionals would not be expected to be aware of the constellation of issues that can be involved.