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Parents Gather Information On Children with Special NeedsSubmitted: 04/28/2013
Story By Shardaa Gray


Photos By Shardaa Gray

MINOCQUA - It almost felt like summertime at The Waters of Minocqua.

While the kids had time to play, the adults went to workshops for parents with children with special needs.

"The idea is that information and education is the best tool to help your child," said Wisconsin Family Ties Parent Specialist, Jackie Baldwin.

"If you don't have the information that you need, it's difficult to make those decisions as to how to help them."

Wisconsin Family Ties had three different workshops.

One for how to handle a crisis, caregivers taking care of themselves and kids transitioning into young adults.

"They gave a lot of really good strategies on helping to deescalate as well as kind of reminding you that children can do well," parent who attended workshops, Melanie Smith said.

"If they can, they will. Everybody wants to do a good job and kids are the same way."

Workshop leaders stressed to parents the importance of communication with their kids.

Especially when they get older and want to start doing everything they see their friends doing.

"What you need to do is find that right balance of support in the middle. And usually that involves a lot of negotiation and a lot of work," said Arc of the Northwoods Coalition, Deanna Yost.

"A lot of sitting down, being upfront with that, you're son or daughter or whoever you're supporting."

Melanie Smith says it's nice to know that she's not the only one going through these types of struggles.

"Hearing other parents that go through the same struggles as you do is very reaffirming. Because when you have a child with special needs and they have behavioral problems and all you hear are the negatives constantly, it's so nice to hear that people affirm 'hey you're doing a good job.'" Smith said.

"It's not through some falls of your own that your child has disabilities. You know your child is a blessing and it might be a little bit more difficult, but that doesn't make them bad or less than other kids."

Wisconsin Family Ties will host another event in Madison celebrating Children's Mental Health Awareness Day on May 9th.

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It's all part of a summer camp that's heavy on science and social interaction.

13-year-old Sean Timm says the eight day robotics camp at Nicolet College mixed the best of both worlds.

"I like technology a lot more than I do outside stuff," Timm said. "It's kind of nice to have technology like drones to bring me outside. It's really fun."

Camp Instructor, Mike Wojtusik has many years of experience as a technology education teacher and robotics advisor. He wants kids to see the importance in learning these skills.

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Learning about robotics isn't the only thing these students do. Some of them are also exercising skills they'll need in the future.

"I think it's a great experience for them to understand what really goes on in the real world as far as a career," Wojtusik said.

Certain careers that often require teamwork.

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As their final project, students design and build their own version of a remote control robot.

They are required to work in teams to sketch a vision, make prototypes and design a working model with aluminum.

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Students are piecing together machines and building future careers at the same time.

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The lack of money to repair certain areas is largely keeping the rebuilding process from getting started.

That's why the Federal Emergency Management Agency came to Iron County Tuesday.

It surveyed the damage because of its severity and the extreme costs to fix.

"Really if it's beyond the scope of local jurisdiction, and even the states that respond," said FEMA External Affairs Officer Troy Christensen.

Wisconsin Emergency Management currently believes the damage caused by the mid-July storm is around $38 million across 10 counties and Bad River Reservation. Around $15 million of that happened in Iron County.

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This week Iron County gave its damage estimates to FEMA.

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