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Special Needs Conference a Success

Logo of Special Needs Network
Logo of Special Needs Network
Tony Hicks

Today concluded the 8th Annual Tools for Transformation Conference and Legislative Breakfast: Early Childhood Education – An Investment Worth Making! The two-day conference sponsored by the Special Needs Network (SNN) started on Friday with its Legislative Breakfast. The breakfast was held at the California African American Museum (CAAM) and was attended by elected officials, policy influencers, service providers, educators, parents, business leaders, and other community members.

The Conference is held each year during National Autism Awareness Month, and is the largest FREE autism, disability rights, and advocacy conference in the greater Los Angeles area. SNN President and Co-Founder, Areva Martin, Esq., started SNN after going through personal experiences with her son who has autism. She wanted to help parents who were having some of the same problems, and concerns she had experienced.

The breakfast included speakers and a panel to discuss topics such as policies, practices, and strategies to improve the quality of health care, education, and employment opportunities for children with special needs. One critical point that was shared with the large audience was “poor children of color have a 30 million word gap by age 3.” Wow!

Day 1 continued with a Legislative Townhall, iStand4Peace Anti-Bullying Youth Summit, Social Media for Non Profits: 101, Advocates Summit, and a Get Empowered Reception events held at the Radisson Hotel, and the Davidson Conference Center.

Saturday, Day 2 of the Conference was held at the Junior Blind of America site, and included a FREE pancake breakfast, lunch, and sixteen workshops for parents, educators, and providers, featuring the region’s top experts on developing IEP’s and identifying appropriate early childhood interventions. And more than 50 health and education vendors were on hand to provide much needed resources to participants.

Both days included entertainment, and lots of support from the many volunteers who worked tirelessly to make sure that the conference was a success. But at the end of the day much credit needs to go to the Sponsors and Partners who provided financial and in-kind contributions that supported the magnitude of such an event. And they are: First 5 LA, Los Angeles County Office of Education, California American Water, ECEWORKS, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, El Pollo Locco, Yogurtland, Starbucks, Costco, Trader Joe’s, echoes of hope, Farmers Insurance, and us bank.

Congratulations to the SNN planning committee, board of directors, staff, participants, and other supporters. For more info: on SNN go to

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