When I was only six years old, my father was wrongfully convicted of a crime he didn’t commit. My mother now had five children to care for on her own. Because she never finished school, helping us with our education was hard for her. My mom didn’t know about GPAs or graduation requirements. She didn’t know how to be involved with my schooling. Today, I am deeply involved with my son’s education because I realized then how important it was. Today, because of a voicemail I received from Stand Indiana years ago, I have an abundance of support in my journey to becoming a parent advocate.
In 2011, my son was diagnosed with Autism. I didn’t know what that was. I was scared for him, so I started researching it online to learn how to help. His first year of school was so rough – he was suspended on his first day of kindergarten and most of the 21 days that followed.
That was my first experience of really feeling like a battle was beginning.
From there, I enrolled him in a new school and worked with the staff and teachers to come up with a plan. Near the end of his kindergarten year, I received a voicemail from Stand Indiana about an event, and I went. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but I knew I wanted to support my son and his education.
I got to the meeting an hour late, after work. During this intro meeting, I heard Stand Indiana’s regional organizing director at the time say, “You are your child’s first and most important teacher.” It made me realize that what I was doing wasn’t in vain.
I would sometimes feel drained, but I left this meeting feeling like I could conquer the world, help my child, and that I wasn’t alone.
Since that day, I’ve been deeply involved with my son’s education, and Stand Indiana has been by my side every step of the way. Stand has become family to me. The organization and its mission are so close to my heart.
Through Stand, I’ve learned parent involvement is everything. My involvement will help my child receive the best education possible and help other children too. By creating a community of engaged parents, I believe we can create a culture in which children know they are supported and community members know parent voices matter.
If you live in Indianapolis, I encourage you to start getting involved now. One way to get involved is to take this survey. It only took me a few minutes to complete, but it was a great way to express what changes I most want to see. The results will help determine what Stand for Children Indiana and parents like me advocate for in the coming year.