Laura Sefcik is the founder and executive director of Fluttering Families, the organization that is the beneficiary for our 75 Sweat for Special Kids on Sunday Feb. 21. They are a non-profit focused on providing children with special needs and their families, the support and advocacy they need, as well as programming that is designed to give those special kids the kinds of typical childhood experiences that they may otherwise miss out on.
This cause is important to Sefcik because she experienced what she calls her “Flutterversary” back in 2009.
A Flutterversary she describes, is the day that a family discovers that their child has special needs, and that their life and their child’s life is forever changed, and now comes with a special set of challenges. Sefcik’s own daughter is one of those special kids.
The programming Fluttering Families provides are designed to provide typical childhood experiences to special needs children and their families in an environment that is comfortable for them.
The programs include the yearly Easter Egg Hunt for Special Families, which will be held on March 20 this year at Village Green Park in Powell. Also, the Grandparent’s Day Luncheon, Private Visits with Santa, Special (Hair)Cuts for Special Kids, the Kaleidoscope 5k, and the Fluttering Families Sweetheart Dance.
We hope you’ll join us in supporting Sefcik’s and her great mission! Let’s make a difference in the lives of our local special needs children at the 75 Sweat for Special Kids on Sunday, Feb. 21 at 11 a.m.!
Hear from Laura Sefcik below:
Q. How long after your Flutterversary did you decide to found Fluttering Families and can you remember that moment that led you to create such an organization?
Our Flutterversary is July 27, 2009. It is a day that we will never forget. That day completely altered our hopes, dreams, and expectations of our life with our children. I have always been someone who is fulfilled and healed by serving others, and I enjoy putting passion into action. In October 2011, I decided to create a formal organization that would support families of children with special needs, including my own. Prior to developing the organization, we felt so isolated, withdrawn, and different from the rest of the community. But since our inception, we have a greater network of support and opportunities for inclusion. I suppose you could say that Fluttering Families saved my life.
Q. How many special kids and their families since inception would you estimate Fluttering Families has been able to support?
I estimate that we have served over 500 families since the inception of Fluttering Families. We have helped parents, children with special needs, their siblings, and extended family feel included, valued, and respected. Each year, we have the staple childhood experiences like egg hunts, visits with Santa, and a Sweetheart Dance, but add on other events and activities as they are considered. In addition, we work with schools and other community organizations "behind the scenes" to foster communication, support, and positive outcomes for families in the community.
Q. What is the most common misconception about children with special needs?
What a great question! There are so many misconceptions about children with special needs that I could talk about this all day! Every family that we serve is affected by different circumstances and diagnoses. My family is most familiar with Dup15q Syndrome and autism, since my daughter is affected by both. Therefore, I (try to) only speak about what I know.
Autism is quite prevalent, and talked about in the community, more than any other developmental disorder. People also seem to believe they understand it, and all of its nuances, without having any real or true experience or training in the area. The two "issues" that generally arise are 1) identifying people with autism as "autistic" and 2) using labels like "high-functioning" and "low-functioning" to describe one's abilities.
First, people with autism and other developmental disabilities are much more than their diagnosis. For example, when a person has been diagnosed with cancer, we don't say they are "cancerous". So, the best way to identify them is "a person with autism" or "a person with Down syndrome." Many times, people will say, "Is your daughter autistic?" My response is always "No. She has autism." Can you see the difference?
Second, there is no identifiable scale or score which identifies a person as either "high" or "low" functioning. Further, there is an insinuation that "high-functioning" is soooooo close to being "normal," but just not quite there. And a description as "low-functioning" sounds as though the person is worthless and hopeless. When wondering how a person is affected by their disorder/syndrome, it is best to question or assess their actual abilities or skills.
The goal of these advocacy points? To encourage others to see all people with disabilities as people first.
Q. Anything else you would like to add?
Fluttering Families is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that is operated solely on tax-deductible donations and sponsorships. There are no paid staff; the only payment I receive as Director is happiness in my heart! Therefore, every penny that is donated or earned via sales of products is used to support families of children with special needs. Supporting Fluttering Families is something that everyone can feel good about!