Smart Walk develops path for children with learning disabilities
WESTPORT — After a successful inaugural event, Smart Kids with Learning Disabilities will return to Sherwood Island State Park on Sept. 22 for its second annual Smart Walk.
The Norwalk-based nonprofit was founded in 2000, and is dedicated to educating, guiding and inspiring parents of children with learning disabilities or ADHD. Jane Ross, founder and executive director of Smart Kids, said the inspiration of the event was to gather those in a community who may not interact with one another.
“We saw it as a chance to help build our community,” she said. “Our mission is to empower parents to help their kids succeed.”
The Smart Walk event will raise funds for critical educational programs, youth mentoring, parent networking, online resources and more. Registration is available on-site or in advance online. Entry fees are $15 per adult, $10 for children ages 7 through 17, and free for children 6 and under.
This year’s Smart Walk will be co-chaired by Westporters Julie McMahon and Laura Snow. The event will also include games and activities for children, as well as a performance by Weston High School Chorale. Individuals, families and teams can walk the 2-mile scenic route at their own pace.
“We believed a walk event would create an opportunity to bring these issues to the awareness of a larger number of people,” Ross said.
She added the event provides an opportunity to bring people together to raise awareness not only to these issues, but the strengths of these children.
“Part of the purpose of the walk is to deal with the stigma that is often attached with these issues,” Ross said.
Her organization emphasizes the importance of nurturing and developing the strengths of children with disabilities.
Smart Kids with Learning Disabilities has relied on parent volunteers to help produce educational programs and events such as Smart Walk. Ross said her organization and the events they hold aim to erase the stigmas of an often misrepresented community.
“These kids have a lot of abilities and often they are overlooked because people tend to focus on what they can’t do,” she said.