Outreach touts resources in Livingston

Advocate staff photo by APRIL BUFFINGTON -- Mark and Alicia Robertson, right, speak to Lila Toler, of Louisiana Rehabilitation Services, about the programs offered at the parent outreach program Winter Wonderland offered Thursday by the Livingston Parish Special Education Department and held at the Literacy and Technology Center in Walker.
Advocate staff photo by APRIL BUFFINGTON -- Mark and Alicia Robertson, right, speak to Lila Toler, of Louisiana Rehabilitation Services, about the programs offered at the parent outreach program Winter Wonderland offered Thursday by the Livingston Parish Special Education Department and held at the Literacy and Technology Center in Walker.

WALKER — Levi Kinnerbrew, 3, spent much of Thursday evening playing stomp and catch at the Literacy and Technology and Center.

Wesley Kinnerbrew, Levi’s father, watched his son play games as the two spent time at Winter Wonderland.

The parent outreach event was designed to help Livingston Parish residents learn more about services, programs and other events offered by the Livingston Parish Special Education Department.

Outreach was made available for families with children ages 3 to 21 who receive special education services or are in the gifted and talented program in Livingston Parish public schools.

“He enjoys the interaction and I like the information,” Wesley Kinnerbrew said of the event.

“I like to learn what he’s going through,” he added.

During the event, Kinnerbrew, whose son is taking speech therapy, learned about the variety of local resources available to help his son.

He also learned that playing games together can help his son learn to speak faster, he said.

Jeanne Ebey, director of special education, said this is the fourth year the event has been held, and each year, more and more parents attend.

This year, organizers of the program invited agencies outside of the school system to attend the event and talk to parents about the resources those agencies have available, Ebey said.

“Our children need lots of support,” Ebey said. “We help support students and families transition these students into the community.”

By partnering with agencies such as the Family Resource Center, Ebey said the school system is better able to “round out” the whole education process for a child.

“Education is so much more than two plus two,” Ebey said. “It includes the whole child, and the community connection with the schools helps facilitate that.”

Among the attendees were parents and their children, special education teachers, occupational therapists, adaptive physical education teachers, physical therapists and teachers for the visually and hearing impaired.

The Livingston Parish school system serves about 4,000 students with disabilities and exceptionalities, Ebey said.

Sony Martin has two sons in the Livingston Parish school system who take advantage of the services provided.

Her son Rayner Martin, 3, is enrolled in the special education program at Live Oak Elementary School while her son Connor Martin, 6, is in the gifted and talented program at Live Oak Elementary School.

Martin said she came to the event to find out what, if any, activities the brothers can do together.

“There is a huge difference between the two,” Martin said. “Connor could talk when he was 1 (year old), and Rayner is still learning to talk.”

Martin said she also hoped to learn about ways to keep them busy and about things they can learn together.

For more information about the programs offered for special education and gifted and talented students in Livingston Parish, call Kimberly Manuel at (225) 667-1098.