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Presented by: Vibrant Empowered Limitless Able (VELA)
“No one prepares you for life with a child with special needs. VELA showed us the way.”
-Susana, Sam’s mother
When told that your child has a special need, your life is forever changed. Acronyms, doctors, meetings, special educators and ups and downs become a part of your new normal. It can feel lonely on this journey. That’s why Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas (BCBSTX) supports organizations such as VELA (Vibrant Empowered Limitless Able).
Founded in 2010, VELA’s mission is to “empower families of children with special needs through hands-on courses, support and community building.” The Vela Family Empowerment Program informs, connects, supports and empowers parents by providing classes, in both Spanish and English, taught by parents of children with special needs and resource sharing. The classes include topics such as special education in schools, autism, and caregiver wellness. The classes are designed to teach parents how to recognize their child’s strengths and needs as change and grow, connect with community resources, and navigate complex medical and school systems.
The partnership between VELA and BCBSTX is working well as there has been an increase in participation from our spanish speaking members. Our members are already actively participating in teaching and helping other families with special needs children.
VELA’s courses are interactive, dynamic and meet families wherever they are on their journey. By learning alongside other families, parents are able to become stronger advocates for their children and become a part the community of other families walking a similar road. Other programs offered by VELA are Wraparound Services, such as Supportive Case Management, Monthly Support Groups and Family Fun Days. Family Fun Days provide unique opportunities for children of all abilities to interact and play. All programs are offered in Spanish or English, free of charge and with childcare provided.
“VELA’s involvement with the Hispanic population has enabled us to reach out to that community that otherwise wouldn’t know about STAR Kids,” said Lupe Martinez, STAR Kids member advocate. “Maria [works with VELA and] has always been supportive with our program. She became part of our STAR Kids Member Advisory Group, and she allows BCBSTX to host parent meetings in the VELA building.”
VELA’s programming is available year round to any familiy of a child with special needs. VELA has served over 1,000 families of children with special needs across 55 zip codes. If you have a child with special needs, the VELA organization would like to serve you and your family! Parent courses for 2018 are now open for enrollment. Call 512-850-8281 to register. Get more information about VELA programs and services at www.velafamilies.org.
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