local programs, parent sanctuary, answer questions, gather resources, connect people, coffee talks
community, schools, Chamber of Commerce, Frisco ISD Partnership, Local businesses
all ages, all stages, all abilities - We are here for you through all of them.
lending library, resource fairs, Diverse Abilities Programs, parent programs, partners PE training
prom, homecoming mums & garters, accessible community garden,
Our board is made up of parents of children with disabilities with a wide variety of skills and volunteer experience. We desire to help families connect to, collaborate with and provide and seek support from families with similar needs.
Heather and her husband live in a recently-emptied nest in Frisco. They are proud parents of kiddos with special needs, both now adults. Her daughter is in college majoring in Biology and her son has recently transitioned to a group home and is attending Special Abilities day program. Heather teaches Blended Pre-k in Prosper.A former systems analyst, she was introduced to the wonderful world of special needs by her son, who was developmentally delayed after having seizures as an infant, she continued her journey an aide then teacher in Frisco ISD's preschool program. Later she took a break from teaching to work with a special needs life planning company, helping parents apply for SSI and preparing for transition by introducing them to resources and supports available.
In 2007, Heather wanted a way to bring special needs parents from all over the district together, but was unsure how to reach out. Judy Haven, Special Ed director at the time, introduced her to SAGE as a way of making those connections. She still loves providing information and resources to parents that help them feel empowered and included. "Sometimes we just need to know we are not alone," she says.
The best part about having a special needs child, in her opinion, is connecting with other parents of children with disabilities and sharing stories that no one else could understand. She explains, "It's like having a running inside joke."
Kristy lives in Texas and has been married to her wonderful husband Clay for almost 30 years. They have two handsome boys: Brett, who is 25 years old and Jake who is 14 years old. Their younger was diagnosed at 8 years with autism.
She became involved in Frisco SAGE through a friend. After diagnosis she reached out to SAGE and was direct to resources needed to advocate for her son. She became a board member as the organization was becoming an independent nonprofit in 2018. In addition to serving on the SAGE board, she works for a law firm as a case manager.
Kristy's favorite part about being a board member is having the opportunity to meet families who have children with disabilities and their willingness to share their journeys with others. She says that her connection with disability has taught her to trust her gut and given her patience.An integral part of helping SAGE establish a stronger community presence, Kristy has helped establish a stronger social media presence and has helped with just about every program SAGE has been part of in the past 3 years. She helps us all be aware of current events in special education and the needs of others in the community who are not necessarily on social media or comfortable posting in a group.
Melanie lives In the State of Reality, or Texas as the rest of us would say. Her current zoo includes her husband, a daughter, a son, and their dog and cat.
Her connection to the world of special needs is her amazing daughter who has Cerebral Palsy, but she also has experience as a former Special Education teacher in Frisco ISD. As if this is not already an amazing resume, Melanie is also a former federal agent and, in her own words, "a breast cancer surviving."Melanie's first connection to SAGE was through the PTA SAGE connection at her campus level as well becoming involved at the district level. The part of being a Frisco SAGE board member she most enjoys is learning of new resources that can help her family and also be passed along to others families navigating a life with special needs. She enjoy the Diverse Abilities program and the way it spreads awareness and understanding to the community.
She continues to help expand the program to the new corporate level program and has most recently arranged the distribution of hundreds of pairs of adaptive shoes through a connection with the Steve Madden shoe brand. Assisting with Special Olympics and Brant's Grants has also been areas where her leadership has been key.
When asked what positive impact being part of the special needs community has had on her own family, she says, "We’ve met many amazing people we would never have met. We appreciate that our daughter has been able to share her personality and change some people’s perspective on different abilities."
Cindy lives in with her husband Patrick and 2 sons, Chance and Reagan. She is a former inclusion teacher prior to becoming a mom to one child with autism and another child who is twice exceptional (2E). She now looks back at her time in the classroom as HER education on disabilities, inclusion and her future role as a mom with a child with autism. "Little did I know that those students with special needs were not only helping me teach the other students, they were also preparing me for being a parent of a child with autism."When it became clear that her younger child had significant delays and needed early and involved intervention, she left the classroom to ensure that she was available to supervise his therapies and appointments, which was a full time job! The family relocated to the north Texas area because of the many resources available, the education provided by the school districts, and the opportunities for involvement.Her history with SAGE goes back to attending a meeting one week after moving to Frisco in the summer of 2009. She became involved with SAGE at various campuses and at a district level, helping to add to the offerings as opportunities presented themselves. She is proud to pay it forward by helping others make connections and find the joy in their journeys as well.
Cindy's favorite board duties are those involving community and professional education opportunities. "The best thing about having a family member with a disability, in my opinion, is becoming part of a community of people who are truly accepting and have embraced the gift of seeing life through a different lens."
Since 2001, Amy has lived in Frisco with her husband Andy. The predictably, unpredictable life of the 5 Coolidge humans and 2 dogs is never boring: "We laugh, we cry, we dance and sing (some better than others) and we always try to make lemonade out of the lemons that come our way."
Their entry into the world of special needs was gradual as each of their children had the same rare genetic condition, but it presented in different ways and with different needs. They began with medical needs and the insurance maze that comes with that, but as they began to enter school, they also needed educational support. They set out to understand the alphabet soup that comes with IEP/ARD/FIE and meetings. When her 3rd was born, they feel they fully entered the world of special needs, though having children with rare conditions means sometimes still having to navigate uncharted waters and in different ways for each child.
Amy became involved with SAGE in helping with Partners PE training before her youngest child, Chase, entered middle school. Because he was in a centralized program, he needed the support of the program rather than being a peer buddy as her older two had been able to do. She sought to help with the program because she wanted the peer models to understand how important their job was and how much it was appreciated. Her favorite project is one that she brought with her to Frisco SAGE - the homecoming mum and garter project!
Amy's claim to fame was that during her previous job in personal training and corporate health and wellness in the 90's, she once told Paula Abdul she couldn't reserve a stairclimber at the Four Seasons athletic center. When she came down to exercise, the center was empty! Amy is "Forever Your Girl, Paula!"
Having lived in Frisco for almost 20 years and volunteering countless hours at the Parent Sanctuary and Lending Library at ECS, you may have met Shonna. She lives with her husband and her high school age son Ryan who was diagnosed with autism at 3 1/2 years of age. Shonna became an active volunteer on the PTA that existed at the time while Ryan was at ECS during the first years it was open.
Prior to Ryan's birth, Shonna worked in the corporate world, which explains her great people skills. She particularly enjoys working with those who have children who have been newly diagnosed by helping them find their "people." Connecting with this community is what she considers one of the upsides to a disability diagnosis. Another would be the new view she has of experiences she would have never had were Ryan not who he is - a curious young man who loves animal encounters of all kinds!Shonna first encountered SAGE at a resource fair hosted at the Early Childhood School. When asked what her favorite event is as a board member, she has trouble picking just one as she finds joy in giving back to others.
Shonna's claim to fame is that she was once on the Jay Leno show in his segment called JayWalking. If anyone can find a video clip of this we would LOVE to see it!
For the past 14 years, Jenni, her husband Mike and their four children has called Frisco home. Their children have a variety of diagnoses, the most significant being her daughter Nora's Down syndrome. Her connection with Frisco SAGE is that she has been friends with most of the board members since SAGE was first founded 14 years ago. This is likely due to the fact that she has made a career out of volunteering, including the Parent Lending Library and Sanctuary for several years. She is also the inspiration and founding member behind the creation of Hope Park, Frisco's most inclusive and accessible playground! Hope Park was a dream Jenni had after Nora was in a wheelchair for a period of time and could not access local playgrounds and play with her friends.Jenni's volunteerism transferred to her children as her older daughter was a peer buddy for Partners PE and Special Olympics and was the dreamer behind the Frisco SAGE inclusion based prom in 2019 at Verona Villa!
Her journey with having a child with Down syndrome has been heartbreaking and amazing at the same time. "Each day I learn something new about myself. Seeing the world through Nora’s eyes is beautiful. She has taught me to take great joy in life."
When asked what serving on the Frisco SAGE Board means to her, Jenni says it allows her to meet new friends with children like hers and teaches her to be grateful. Taking care of her daughter each day teaches me to be patient. She has learned not to sweat the small stuff because it’s mostly small stuff so she saves her energy for the important stuff. Being part of this community that has children with special needs is exactly where she wants to live.
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Diverse Abilities School Program
Frisco ISD schools can reserve any 4 stations for one week each school year on a first come, first served basis. Please talk to your school administration about dates and stations desired before officially scheduling. Questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com for more information!
Presentations & Programs
Schedule a presentation at your school, corporation, small business, organization or church. Our presentation are customized to your audience, needs and time allowances and can be between an hour and a full day. We have continuing education options, new hire training options, customer service options and educational options. Let us do the work and provide an engaging and hands-on presentation to your group that is filled with awareness, collaboration opportunities and opportunities to create a more inclusive environment.
Diverse Abilities Corporate Kits
Thanks to a partnership with Aerotek Corporation, a top global recruiting and staffing agency through Brant's Grants, *INSERT LINK TO BLOG STORY* we have a limited number of kits for sale. Kits can have up to 10 station options for presentation to your group. These are the same kits we bring and use for our presentations and come equipped with all instructions for each station and a number of presentation options. You will be able to provide a variety of opportunities for growth, diversity and inclusion as soon as you receive your kit. and we will be here to answer any questions you may have before your program.
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Partners PE Training
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SAGE Talk Podcast
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Private Facebook Group
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