NEWBERRY — The Newberry County Disabilities and Special Needs Board has taken an idea from a leadership training class called Let’s Talk and turned it into a community wide effort to collect school supplies for students in Newberry County.
Cindy Farr, director of quality enhancement for the NCDSNB, explained that Let’s Talk is a leadership series for people with disabilities that teaches them to become better leaders. It is sponsored by Arc of the Midlands.
“We have a representative from Arc of the Midlands that comes every Wednesday to teach the class. We have about 10 people taking the class,” Farr said.
Each week the class has focused on different topics such as what it means to be a leader and they have also spent time on public speaking. One feature of the class has been sharing current events and discussing how these events relate to advocacy.
“Often participants are reluctant to speak up but the class has given them the opportunity to talk about how they feel in a small group and gain confidence,” Farr said. “At the end of the series, ultimately the goal is either complete a community project, or to have one of the participants join a civic organization.
“We are doing the community project, which is the school supply drive. Our local group, Voices for Pride, has done school supply drives in the past, but we have not done one in the last couple of years,” she added. “We thought this might be a good time to do that again.”
Connie Coleman, an administrator with NCDSNB and a Let’s Talk member, said the people in the class made the decision based on a need.
The group made three boxes, which they painted in different colors and then decorated with ABC and 123. One is at the Administration Building, 115 Nance St., another is at the workshop and the other is going to New Enoree Church, Coleman said.
Farr added that the Arc of the Midlands also will collect supplies at their office in Lexington.
The drive, which began during the second week of July, will end the first week of August. Once it’s over, all the supplies will be taken to Gallman Elementary School, which is close to NCDSNB. The school also has an established relationship with the NCDSNB in Dorothy Chocolate, a special needs teacher who used to work for NCDSNB.
So far, the donations have included crayons, notebook paper, pencils and glue sticks but Farr said they will take anything children or teachers can use, like Kleenex, hand sanitizer or even book bags.
“In the past when we have done it, we have had as much as a couple of boxes or sometimes it is just a box. We feel like whether big or small, we are still assisting some of the children that may need those supplies,” Farr said. “In the past, we kept it to just the folks at the agency, but this time we are opening it up to the community. We are hoping we can get more things, but as little or big, we are happy.”
Opening up the effort to the community also will allow the NCDSNB to become more integrated into the community.
“We feel that it is a good place to start in the schools so that the school children know who we are, what we are about and know more about self advocacy,” Farr said. “It will help them understand people with disabilities are people, and that is part of the education process.”
Contact Coleman at 803-276-0078 for more information about the school supply drive or for directions to the nearest drop-off location.
Reach Andrew Wigger at 803-276-0625 ext. 1867 or on Twitter @ TheNBOnews.