What’s Next Symposium connects families to services

The fifth annual What’s Next Symposium connected individuals and families with disabilities to helpful resources and services in the community at the Centro Fitness Encino Ballroom on Feb. 24.

While the symposium was going on in the ballroom, the Basketball Special Olympics was going on in the gym right next door.

“The venue lends itself to having both events at one location and because of that, our parents are able to see their kids participate in Special Olympics and learn about different services,” Harlandale ISD Director of Special Education Della Taylor said.

This year, more than 60 booths offered information about their programs.

The event has come a long way since Taylor first envisioned it back in 2009. At the time, she was a special education teacher at Harlandale High School. She reached out to a handful of local services for individuals with disabilities and organized information tables at a parent’s driveway. 

When she became special education coordinator, she made it a priority to organize a district-wide symposium.

“I realized that our parents weren’t getting the services that they needed and they didn’t know where to find them,” Taylor said. “This is our way of bringing these services to the community so that they have access to what’s going on outside of the Harlandale community.”

Since the inception of the What’s Next Symposium, Taylor has noticed parents are more aware of resources they can tap in to and are taking advantage of services that vary from respite care to summer camps. 

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