Hoping to “empower, educate and inform,” a free one-day conference on disabilities is slated from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 17, at Riverview’s River of Life Christian Center, 6605 Krycul Ave.
The event includes nine breakout sessions on topics ranging from early childhood, mental health, vocational rehabilitation and disability among the elderly. Organizers will be providing a light lunch, as well as an exhibitor fair. State, local and community agencies will be participating.
“When you are dealing with disabilities whether with a child, a teenager or an elderly adult, it is hard,” said Tammy Turner, who is organizing the “Soup to Nuts” conference with husband Tim. “We want to provide information for education, empowerment and encouragement.”
The Turners are co-directors of HisAbility, a disability ministry at River of Life. They have been involved in disability issues across Florida for 18 years. HisAbility, which meets for a potluck lunch on the second Sunday of the month after the 11 a.m. service at River of Life, serves as a support group for anyone with a disability, their family members, friends and caretakers.
“No one should deal with this alone. You feel like you have such a burden on your shoulders. This is not a walk in the park, it really is difficult,” said Tammy. “Sometimes people don’t know where to find help, and that what we hope the conference does in part: provide some of those resources.”
She continued: “We are actually scaling down a little bit because last year was our first year, and I think the day was a little too long, so with making it a little shorter, that makes it easier for people to come out and have the experience of the conference and still be able to go out and do other things if they need to.” Tammy worked with the Hillsborough County School Board as a parent advocate for those with disabilities for two years.
The conference sessions will feature:
• Guardianship 101
• Caregiver burnout and depression – “The Good, Sad and Truth”
• Child Find
• Disaster preparedness
• Special-needs planning
• Exceptional Student Education
• Military veterans resources
• Vocational rehabilitation
• Assistive technology
• West Central Florida Area Agency on Aging
Some of the seminars will provide free information on topics that might ordinarily cost money.
“For example,” Tammy said, “if someone were to go see a guardianship [expert] they could be charged for that but we have a guardianship attorney who will be providing that information for free. It’s all good quality information that you will be able to pick up at the conference.”
Last year’s inaugural conference drew more than 170 people, “but I am hoping we have at least 200 people this year,” Tammy said. “We have some awesome seminars, speakers and exhibitors this year. We also have some great giveaways in terms of door prizes.”
The conference will be broken into three one-hour sessions, with three classes during each session.
Reservations are requested but are not necessary for the conference. Call 813-677-4453.