ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. -- Special needs schools, service organizations and subject matter experts spent an afternoon sharing information with Aberdeen Proving Ground Families during the Community Connections Expo at the Aberdeen Area Recreation Center Aug. 11.

Hosted by the Army Community Service Exceptional Family Member Program and the Child, Youth and School Services School Liaison Office, the expo offered information about education, therapy, treatment and recreational options available in the local area and around the state for special needs children and adults.

Eileen Campbell, APG school liaison officer, said the expo was organized to provide a showcase of educational resources and special needs services, options and laws available for the installation's Soldiers, civilians, contractors and retirees.

"The expo was an effort to assist parents with concerns when preparing for school," Campbell said. "We had a great turnout of professionals from as far south as Baltimore City and as far north as Elkton. They all came to APG in an effort to assist our growing community."

Thirty-nine organizations set up displays offering services in education, counseling and therapy. Organization representatives said they appreciated the opportunity to network with the community as well as with like organizations, according to Nancy Goucher, Exceptional Family Member Program.

"Attendees were appreciative of the information obtained and the opportunity to speak with subject matter experts," Goucher said, "and presenters said they have never attended a function where they were able to meet and network with other services.

"Many of them exchanged information to collaborate efforts for APG Families with special needs."

Eyvonne Alberter, a pupil personnel worker with Harford County Public Schools Pupil Services, said the office offers the services of psychologists, nurses and personnel workers.

"My role is to confront barriers children might have attending or enrolling in school," Alberter said. "We oversee and ensure children are being taught to standards."

She said one barrier children face is when someone other than the parent becomes responsible for the child's education due to deployments or permanent change of station.

"What we need is for parents to come in with a copy of orders and a notarized affidavit [or power of attorney] naming that person as the one who assumes responsibility for the child's education."

Pupil Personnel Workers are problem solvers and troubleshooters, Alberter said. "Their primary function is advocating for the Family by investigating factors that interfere with the student's success in school and facilitating remedial action."

Pupil Personnel Workers are assigned to every school in the HCPS system, she added. For more information, or to locate a worker, call the central office at 410-588-5282.

The Kennedy Krieger Institute offered a full range of Family, school and home wellness and outreach programs. The display featured information about the institutes' Center for Autism and Related Disorders and its Resource Finder.

"Families don't have to come to us for information," said Jackie Stone, director of business development. "They can use the Resource Finder Web tool to get answers about disability-supported programs."

The Resource Finder provides a valuable tool for Families and professionals to obtain information and access resources on developmental disabilities, Stone said. "It provides information for parents, caregivers, and other professionals on a wide range of developmental disabilities, professional resources and continuing education and events.

For more information, visit www.resourcefinder.kennykrieger.org or call 800-390-3372. The Kennedy Krieger Institute is located in Baltimore.

Phillip Fowler led the outreach specialists at the Military & Family Life Consultant display. He said the MFLC is a Department of Defense program designed to provide anonymous, confidential support to Soldiers and their Families, especially those returning from deployments.

"The MFLC is open to all branches, active, reserve, and National Guard, and Department of Defense civilians," Phillips said, adding that MFLC trained consultants are licensed clinicians whose goal is to prevent Family distress by providing education and information on Family dynamics, parent education, available support services, and the effects of stress and positive coping mechanisms.

The MFLC works with trained staff members at Army child development and youth centers and can be requested through the Army Community Service Family Advocacy Program.

"We can work directly in the classroom with children having behavioral issues or other problems," he said. Some issues include school adjustment, deployment and separation concerns, reunion adjustment, sibling/parent communications, behavioral concerns, fear, grief or loss issues and daily life issues.

For more information, contact ACS or Child, Youth and School Services.
Educational services

JoAnn Wright briefed visitors to the SMART (Science, Mathematics and Research for Transformation) display. A SMART Army Liaison for the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, Wright said that SMART scholarships are available to citizens of the U.S., age 18 and older, who are pursuing undergraduate degrees in one of the SMART disciplines.

"The Department of Defense realizes the need to support the education of America's future scientists and engineers," she said.

Benefits include cash awards and internships. SMART is part of the National Defense Education Program sponsored by the American Society for Engineering Education. For more information, or to apply, visit www.asee.org/smart.

A program supported by the Raytheon Company addresses the "math education crisis" in America, according to John Clemons, Raytheon director of corporate community relations.

The program is called MathMovesU and it has been around for five successful years, Clemons said.

"MathMovesU is a mentorship program for middle school students. It is a virtual space that connects math to students on their terms, using fun contests, live events and interactive Web content.

"The goal is to inspire students to pursue educational goals and careers in science and engineering."

"Kids love the site because they can be who they want to be," Clemons said.

He said that Raytheon pledges $1 million in grants and scholarships annually. For more information, or to apply, visit www.MathMovesU.com.

Raytheon is a defense technology company that will open its doors in the near future inside the G.A.T.E office complex at APG.

Katie Smith, an eCYBERMISSION team member who oversees enrollment in the RDECOM-sponsored program, said that the enrollment period is open and organizers are looking for children interested in the program.

eCYBERMISSION is a free, Web-based science, math and technology competition for students in grades six through nine.

"Children apply real-life applications of science, math and technology to real-world issues," she said, adding that teams from all over the country compete regionally and nationally for prizes that include up to $8,000 in U.S. EE Savings Bonds.

"Most importantly, eCYBERMISSION provides students with the opportunity to explore the possibilities of science, math and technology," she said.

To learn more, or to register, visit www.ecybermission.com.

APG programs

Installation displays included ACS and the Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Directorates' Child, Youth and School Services' EDGE and Hired! programs. The ACS display, hosted by Aida Rivera and Kimberly Williams of the Family Advocacy office, contained well being information on the Maryland Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program as well as Family Advocacy.

"We answered general questions and many seemed focused on stress management," said Rivera, noting the office primarily handles sexual assault and domestic violence issues. ACS Family Advocacy is located in building 2503. For more information, contact Rivera, Family advocacy program manager at 410-278-7478.

At the EDGE display, Chuck Rose, program coordinator, distributed flyers on upcoming events for APG youths. EDGE stands for Experience, Develop, Grow and Excel. The program, open to ages 11 to 18, highlights, recreational, fitness and educational opportunities for APG youths in FMWR programs.

"Our main interest today has been to show what's available for kids to do after school," Rose said.

Upcoming EDGE events include a Hip-Hop Dance class, 4 to 8 p.m. each Monday, Sept. 13 through 27 at the Aberdeen Area Recreation Center; a Teen Fitness Challenge, 4 to 6 p.m. each Thursday, Sept. 2 through 30 at the Aberdeen Area Youth Center; Youth bowling, every Wednesday, 4 to 6 p.m. at the Bowling Center; Study and Research Skills sessions, 4 to 6 p.m. every Tuesday, Sept. 7 through 28 at CYSS in building 2503, and Ceramic Painting every Friday, Sept. 3 through 24, 4 to 6 p.m. at the Edgewood Area Arts and Crafts Shop. Sign up for EDGE sessions at CYSS Central Registration, building 2503, or call (410) 278-7571. For information, call Rose at (410)278-1399 or e-mail chuck.rose1@us.army.mil.

Fifteen-year-old tenth grader Aysha O'Neal assisted at the HIRED! display with Jay McKinney, HIRED! program coordinator.

HIRED! is an apprentice program in which teens can gain work experience in FMWR facilities. It also gives guidance on preparing resumes, teaches interview techniques and pays a stipend at the end of the term.

"I think it's really fun," said O'Neal who worked at the Aberdeen Area Athletic Center. "It was my first job and I plan to reenroll in the fall," she said.

HIRED! apprentice positions are available for ages 15 through 18. The program offers workforce preparation, training and college exploration workshops as well as educational incentive awards for 17 to 18-year-olds.

For more information, contact McKinney at (410) 278-3250 or e-mail jay.a.mckinney@us.army.mil.

The expo included breakout sessions with subject matter experts:

Lt. Col. Scott Campbell, Kirk, U.S. Army Health Clinic talked about "Getting the Most out of TRICARE; Beth Oleszczuk, a counselor with Aberdeen Middle School explained Ed-Line, the new program that gives parents online access to grades; and Attorney Nicole Joseph hosted question-and-answer sessions for the Maryland Disability Law Center.

Joseph said the MDLC has a variety of services to aid special needs individuals.

"The problems can be for transportation, medical, housing or disability-related issues," she said. "It's like any other law. We get involved when individuals aren't getting the services or support they're entitled to.

"We have various levels of assistance, from offering advice to representing certain types of cases. The MDLC is a nonprofit legal service and the protection and advocacy agency for the state of Maryland. Our goal is to advance the legal rights of people with disabilities. Families or individuals with issues should contact us for information or referrals."

For information, visit the MDLC Web site at www.mdlclaw.org; or call (410) 727-6452, extension 2490; of toll free at (800) 233-7201.