About the National Convention
2012 Convention Review
The WSA celebrated its 30th anniversary with our biggest national convention ever, held in the city where the battles for our Country's Independence were first fought over the "Independence Day" Holiday. It was a great place to "Let Our Colors Burst" both as an Association and as Individuals with WS, and those who love them. More than 1500 were in attendance, including 350 individuals with Williams syndrome of all ages. The convention provided opportunities for "once in a lifetime" (for some) visits to the Tall Ships, the Boston Pops 4th of July Celebration, and many local Boston attractions. School age kids had a blast at camp, while the teens and adults explored Boston sites and enjoyed special sessions on everything from zumba and square dance to relationships and internet safety during their time spent at the hotel. Parents were provided with information on medical issues, educational strategies and important resources.
The 2012 convention week began with the WSA sponsored, International Professional Conference on Williams Syndrome. This summer’s conference welcomed WS research scientists from around the world, who gathered to share insights from their studies into many different aspects of Williams syndrome. With the help of a special grant from NIH, we were able to offer special incentives to help enable doctoral students and minority researchers interested in WS to attend, and the WSA provided a $1000 prize to the junior investigator with the best dissertation. The award was presented to Dr. Angela John, UC-Davis, for her dissertation on The Regulatory Functioning of Social Referencing in Pre-schoolers with Down Syndrome or Williams Syndrome.
Findings on twenty-five studies were discussed and more than 20 posters were presented during the conference.
During the 4 days following the professional conference, the Sheraton-Boston Hotel undertook a transformation (according to the Sheraton staff) into [what felt like] the happiest place on earth. The hotel and meeting space lobbies were constantly filled with smiling faces and laughter as old and new friends of all ages joined forces to celebrate being with each other (in the case of the hundreds of teens and adults with WS), and being with others who simply “understood” (in the case of their parents). In addition to both organized and spontaneous networking opportunities, convention attendees had a chance to learn from experts on more than 45 topics of interest and keynote speakers who started each day off with special messages, laughter, tears, and in some cases, all three!
We wish that each of you could have joined us. If you weren’t able to attend, we invite you to view the abstracts from several important sessions below, and/or purchase the mp3 recordings of all sessions.
2014 WSA National Convention
International Professional Conference
June 30 - July 6, 2014
Hyatt Regency - Orange County
Garden Grove, California