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Program Highlights for Convention 2020

Convention Program Highlights 

Education Conference for professionals: On Wednesday July 8th, Local educators, therapists and special education students, or education professionals planning to travel to Phoenix should save the date for July 8th, when we will present our full day professional conference on the Learning Profile for students with Williams syndrome.  WS experts, Carolyn Mervis, Karen Levine and Bonnie Klein-Tasman and WSA education consultant, Robin Pegg will present a full day program including sessions on Mathematics, Language, Reading and Behavior.  Each session will include an overview of what the research is telling us, integration of the educational profile and instructional strategies and solutions.  An active Q&A with the panel of experts will be provided during the working lunch.
 
Educational Conference for Parents:  Join us for a conference within the convention!  If you only have 1 day to spend in Phoenix, and you have a school-age child (K-12), Friday, July 10th is a great choice.  On Friday, our track for school age parents will be strictly educational as we present each of the sessions we provide for educators adjusted for a parent audience. WS experts, Carolyn Mervis, Karen Levine and Bonnie Klein-Tasman and WSA education consultant, Robin Pegg will present a full day program including sessions on Mathematics, Language, Reading and Behavior.  Each session will include an overview of what the research is telling us, integration of the educational profile and instructional strategies and solutions.  An active Q&A with the panel of experts will be provided during the working lunch, and a special session on literacy will be provided by Robin and David Koppenhaver to conclude the day.  You don’t want to miss these sessions! 
 
New family (convention first-timer) welcome session on July 8th at 1 PM will include introductions to parents with “deep” convention experience who can provide guidance throughout the convention as well as a convention primer to help decrease the feeling of overwhelm that can overtake every first timer and provide strategies for de-stressing and getting the most out of your time at the convention.
 
Cultural Connection: We understand that there are additional challenges to raising your child with WS when English is not your first language or religious traditions prevent you from attending activities on dates when everyone else is available, when you look around the room and feel like you are alone - different from everyone else attending.
Throughout the convention there will be several sessions geared to families with culturally diverse backgrounds.  These will include sessions in Spanish, sessions provided by WS experts from culturally diverse communities, and Parent Panels to discuss the challenges and strategies for feeling and being included.  There will also be a cultural connection reception on Friday evening.
 
Fire-side Chats: There won’t be a fireplace, but there will be interactive, casual discussion at each of these sessions.  Audiences will be limited in size and participation is key.  Each of these sessions is intended to create an active discussion that will provide everyone with new resources and ideas for success in topic areas.  Topics include:  
 
Live Podcasts: Join the “studio audience” for the taping of podcasts for the new WSAR (Williams Syndrome Association Radio) podcast channel.  Topics will vary from education and parenting to medical and research. Interviewers and interviewees will include WS experts, parents, relatives and adults with Williams syndrome.
 
Special Session Opportunities for Adults with WS:
  • Employment - meet with an employment specialist from Creative Spirit to discuss your goals, learn how to build a plan to acquire your dream job, practice creating a resume and bio, learn how to dress for success and get a professional headshot... and more
  • Sexuality, Social Skills and Safety - Experts David Hingsburger, Beverly Frantz, Leigh Ann Davis and Marisa Fisher will present several sessions for adults with WS (and parents/caregivers) to provide important information on these critical topics 
  • Disaster Preparedness - Adults with WS are watching the news on television and online, and anxieties about disasters are natural.  This session provided by a disaster preparedness specialist and relative of a young man with WS will provide adults with the when, why and how-tos for preparing for all types of sudden catastrophic happenings - from active shooters to fire, hurricanes and earthquakes.
 
IEP Reviews: Sign up to have a 45 minute, 1:1 session with an advocate to review your child's IEP or seek direction on specific questions concerning the IEP process.  Special educators with deep WS experience will be on hand to review your child’s IEP, and make suggestions for improvement
 
IEP Workshop: bring your IEPS from 3 years and spend the morning with Robin Pegg and Carolyn Mervis as they walk you through a line-by-lline review, with special instruction on how to make sure you are getting measurable data on your child’s progress.
 
Estate Planning:  personal Q&A sessions - sign up for a 30 minute consultation to get your general questions about estate planning and trusts answered!
 
Bee Strong Therapy Initiative: If your child is under 5, you will want to participate in the special therapeutic sessions and social networking opportunities provided by the Bee Strong Therapy initiative.
 
Lunch & Learn Opportunities: session topics will include discussions about transitions, genetics, college programs, anxiety, assistive technology and much more.   
 
Experts participating include:
  • Dr. Carolyn Mervis - Neuropsychologist and researcher on cognition in WS
  • Dr. Barbara Pober - Geneticist and pediatrician - director of WS program at Mass General Hospital, professional supervisor of WS Registry, Co-lead of WS Research Network
  • Dr. Beth Kozel - Lasker Research Scholar at NIH - Director of WS cardiovascular research studies at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, Director of WS Program at St. Louis Children’s Hospital and Co-Lead of WS Research Network
  • Dr. Christopher McDougle - Director of Lurie Center for Autism, Psyco-pharmacology expert and researcher conducting studies on Anxiety in Adults with WS
  • Dr. Bonnie Klein-Tasman - psychologist specializing in anxiety and behavior in children with William syndrome
  • Dr. Karen Levine - psychologist and former co-chair of the WS program at Boston Children’s hospital, Karen specializes in behavior modification for young children with Williams syndrome
  • Dr. Marisa Fisher - Special Education professor, former Director of the Lifting Lives Camp at Vanderbilt kennedy Center, and sister of an adult with Williams syndrome, Marisa is a social skills specialist for adults with Williams syndrome.
  • Dr. Beverly Frantz - Criminal Justice Project Director at Temple University's Institute on Disabilities
  • Dr. Leslie Smoot - Cardiologist, Director of the WS Program at Boston Children’s Hospital and research team member on a 3-year multi-faceted study on Williams syndrome
  • Dr. Mark Levin - cardiologist and member of the Cardiovascular genetics research team at NIH under Dr. Beth Kozel
  • Robin Pegg - WSA education consultant, assistive technology expert and participant on the WS Education team that defined the educational profile for students with Williams syndrome 
  • David Hingsburger - has worked for over 30 years with people with intellectual disabilities.  He is the Director of Clinical and Educational Supports at Vita Community Living Services in Toronto and a sexuality expert for those with developmental disabilities.  Dave is a long-time friend and speaker for the WSA.
  • And many more…...
 
Opening Reception/Vendor Fair: join us for an opening night, open house event that has something for everyone - entertainment for children and adults, vendors for post secondary options, employment, agency resources of all types, light refreshments and more.
 
Off-site Special Event: join us at Chase Stadium, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks, for a great evening of entertainment, food and fun on the concourse overlooking the Baseball Diamond!  Live Band, DJ, batting cage, pitching mound, play structure for the kids, and special surprise guests.  You DO NOT want to miss this great event - just five blocks from the hotel!
 
Please consider joining us in Phoenix July 8-11. Programs start at 1 p.m. the 8th and end at 4 p.m Saturday the 11th. Join us for the dance party the evening of the 11th--there's really nothing like it!