Earlier this summer, through the Causeway Challenge we awarded grants to 10 different projects that answered the question, “How can parents help transform public education in Chattanooga?”

Luronda Jennings’ journey in educating students with disabilities began over ten years ago, and that passion persists to this day.

As an experienced special education teacher in numerous public schools, Luronda has seen firsthand the challenges that students with disabilities face, and the need they have for academic support and life skills enrichment. Seeing this need, she created Journey Educational Services, through which she and teammate Jean-Marie Lawrence formed RightsNow.

One of our Education Challenge winners, RightsNow, is a series of interactive workshops helping to equip parents to become advocates for their children with disabilities. The systems and laws surrounding disabilities in schools are difficult to navigate, which often prevents children with disabilities from having access to helpful learning and life opportunities. Every parent wants his or her child to be able to learn in an environment that embraces their individual learning styles, and leads that child to a more confident, efficient, and productive life. For parents of children with a disability, that kind of environment can be hard to find.

Two weeks ago, RightsNow gathered in the Community Room at United Way and held one of their interactive workshops. Those in attendance heard personal advice from a panel of experienced parents who have children with disabilities. The workshop included interactive activities designed to show parents how difficult it can be for children with disabilities to do simple tasks, and each family received a journal and a stress ball to help manage and process their emotions.

Luronda and Jean-Marie want these interactive workshops to equip parents to become strong advocates for their children, and thereby confidently navigate the complex systems surrounding disability regulations in schools. They’re women on a mission, and they’re succeeding.

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