New Voices Foundation announces Lara Jane Parker Award Recipients
RALEIGH, NC – An estimated 400 children in North Carolina’s Triangle region can’t speak, can’t write, and have trouble walking or even moving through space. Families and public schools struggle to meet their complex medical, technological, and educational needs.
In 2007, nonprofit New Voices Foundation was established to improve educational opportunities for children with severe communication and mobility disabilities to help maximize their learning potential.
“New Voices children have the same needs and aspirations of all children, and a bit more,” said Don Stedman retired Dean of Education at UNC-Chapel Hill and co-founder of New Voices. “There is no reason that their communication and mobility challenges cannot be successfully addressed in a way that will allow full inclusion in our schools and community.”
Over the past decade, with the support of outstanding teachers, therapists, parents, leaders, and education and health professionals, hundreds of lives of New Voices children have been changed, unlocking communication, mobility, inclusion, and possibilities.
When Lara Jane Parker was born in 1971, she did not breathe for fifteen minutes and was not expected to survive. Later diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, Lara was unable to sit, stand, or talk. Overcoming her limitations with self-determination and with a lot of support from teachers and others, Lara graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill, lived independently, and served on committees working with issues involving developmental disabilities.
In memory of Lara, the Lara Jane Parker Awards for Excellence and Advocacy was established in 2013 to recognize and reward individuals who work tirelessly to improve the lives of New Voices Children. This year’s recipients will be honored Thursday, April 21, at 4:30 p.m. at Friday Center in Chapel Hill. The program is free and open to the public.
RSVP by April 15 to: Pat@NewVoicesNC.org.
2016 Award Recipients:
Award of Excellence
Alecia Osisek, Teacher, Ephesus Elementary School, Chapel Hill-Carrboro City School System
With a passion for teaching and a gift for creating a communication rich environment, Alecia’s classroom has successfully transitioned a student into general education and is a model for processes used by Assistive Technology / Augmentative Alternative Communications teams. Alecia received her BA in Elementary Education and Graduate Certification in Special Education from Eastern University in Pennsylvania.
Betsy Cordle, Assistive Technology Specialist, Wake County Public Schools
Betsy’s background includes a Masters of Education in Special Education from UNC-Chapel Hill, providing a unique blend of teaching and technology experiences. This combination enables Betsy to provide practical ideas to implement successful communication systems in the classroom. Betsy was a key team member that provided training to over 25 teachers.
Laura Lewis, Assistive Technology Specialist, Wake County Public Schools
With over 25 years experience as a Speech Language Pathologist, Laura has worked extensively with children with communication disabilities. One of her numerous strengths is involving the parents in the development of communication systems for students. Laura is a 2010 Kenan Fellow sponsored by New Voices Foundation. She received her Masters of Science degree in Speech / Language Pathology from East Carolina University.
Ashley Robinson, Augmentative Alternative Communication Specialist, Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools
Ashley inspires others to believe in their students and provides a dynamic approach for them to implement successful communication systems in the classroom. Her motto is “everyone deserves a voice.” Ashley received her Masters of Science from UNC-Chapel Hill.