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Summit on Disabilities and Early Learning open to public

By JOHN WALKER - jwalker@shelbynews.com

The public is invited to attend a free summit on early learning and disabilities, followed by the ARC of Shelby County’s annual dinner.

Various nonprofit groups and three Shelby County school systems will be represented at the summit which is scheduled to take place from 4 to 5:45 p.m. today at the Knights of Columbus Hall, 413 E. South St.

“We’ve got 21 organizations that will have exhibits,” said Don Collins, president of the ARC of Shelby County.

Exhibits will include interactive displays and information about education for young children, as well as people of all ages who have a disability, he said.

This is the first year for the Summit on Disabilities and Early Learning and came about because of the collaboration among local groups involved in those issues, said Collins, including the recently-formed Early Learning Coalition.

Information about existing programs and new initiatives that are being planned by the organizations will be available at the event, he said.

Three of the four county school systems also are due to be represented at the summit; Southwestern Schools Corp. is due to participate next year, Collins said.

Among the other organizations to be represented are Shelbyville Head Start, Shelby County Down Syndrome, Shelby County Special Olympics, and the Shelbyville VC Aktion Club, which is a branch of Kiwanis for those with developmental issues.

In addition, there will be information about SENSES Gym, a sensory stimulation playroom in Shelbyville for kids ages 1-6, founded by Collins and his daughter, Holly Forville.

Families who have any member with a learning challenge or developmental delay of any kind are encouraged to attend the summit, Collins said. 

Shortly after the summit ends, the ARC of Shelby County will hold its annual awards dinner at the K of C Hall at 6:30 p.m. tonight.

“We’ll have four awards for special education professionals,” said Collins. 

Awards for those with special needs will be given out at a later date due to a scheduling conflict, he added.

Mike Furnish, the former president and CEO of Special Olympics Indiana, is scheduled to be the keynote speaker at the local ARC dinner.

The dinner is open to the public; no tickets are needed but a gift of $10 is requested.