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Expo links families to area resources

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HANCOCK COUNTY — With two children with special needs in her family, the trip from Shirley to Greenfield-Central High School Saturday will be well worth the effort for Vicky Badgley.

For area families who have children with special needs, Saturday’s Inspiring Abilities Expo Greenfield should be high on the weekend’s to-do list.

It will be Badgley’s second year at the expo, and she said the resources available there cover just about everything a family with special needs requires.

“There’s a lot of different information, from health care to Social Security and Medicaid to wheelchair services,” she said.

Two of Badgley’s three children have special needs – one requires a prosthetic and the other has developmental disabilities from a traumatic brain injury. In addition to services and resources available at the expo, Badgely said the information on transitioning from one stage of life and development to another is very useful.

“They help a lot with preparing you for the next phase and letting you know what to expect,” Badgley said.

“It’s sort of one-stop shopping for families with special needs,” said Denise Arland, executive director of Families United for Support and Encouragement, the local nonprofit that is sponsoring the event.

“There will be service and support there for just about any disability issues,” Arland said.

This will be the eighth year F.U.S.E. has presented the expo, which will allow families to connect with service providers and agencies, nonprofits, and vendors of products and services that might help their children.

This year, the expo features nearly 60 exhibitors specializing in everything from autism identification research to assisted living.

Dennis Porter, executive director of The Arc of Hancock County, a community-based advocacy organization for residents with intellectual and developmental disabilities, who will be attending Saturday’s expo, said many people are surprised by just how many resources are available to those who need them.

“And then there are always the new things that come up each year that people can learn about,” Porter said.

One of the programs families can learn about is the The Arc Master Trust, a financial planning tool to help provide for needs in the future.

“You worry about getting older and then one day not being around to take care of a child you’ve taken care of all your life,” Porter said.

In addition to vendors and exhibitors, the expo will feature six experts speaking on topics ranging from nutrition tips to understanding Medicaid waiver services along with demonstrations by several area groups such as TOPSoccer and the Destiny Special Needs Color Guard.

Organizers have put the word out on the expo throughout central Indiana, including all area school corporations and are hoping for a strong turnout.

“Attendance is up and down from year to year,” Arland said. “That’s my biggest challenge.”

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