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      Parents get empowered in Upper Michigan

      Changing lives is the goal of Upper Peninsula's first Collaborative Parent Empowerment Conference.

      Sponsors from organizations, like Michigan Family Voices, S.P.E.A.K.S. Education, and MARESA in the Upper Peninsula, came together at the Holiday Inn in Marquette to empower parents and caregivers of youth with disabilities.

      "They need to know that their children are just like their peers, who are able to run around on the playground, and know that they are entitled to the same rights and services as anyone else," said Jessica Manier, MPA.

      The free conference included five different sessions, each of which highlighted areas of concern for adolescents with disabilities or presented a solution to improve their quality of life. The main message that organizers of the conference wanted to relay to parents and caregivers is that they are not alone.

      The session topics spearheaded bold topics like sexuality education, understanding the role of a surrogate parent, and mental health, all of which families that have youth with disabilities deal with on a daily basis.

      Collaborators at the conference hope to continue to grow the conference from the fifty parents, educators and caregivers in attendance today to a larger body committed to enhancing the quality of life for our youth, living with disabilities.