“The Shadow Project exists because children with learning challenges have so much to offer our society and to be successful, and right now they are not being given that opportunity in school,” said Sharon Juenemann, Executive Director of The Shadow Project on the October 24, 2022 episode of #RolandMartinUnfiltered.
Juenemann was featured on the daily digital show’s Education Matters segment, giving The Shadow Project a national platform to bring awareness to the pandemic’s impact on students with disabilities and what the organization is doing to make sure they don’t fall further behind.
“We partner with teachers. We believe they need more resources and more support to teach kids who have learning differences like ADHD, autism, and dyslexia, so that they can have their gifts recognized and encouraged and go on to achieve their dreams and their goals.”
When asked about the educational disparities facing students of color with disabilities, Juenemann explained, “Black and Latino students are disciplined at a higher rate nationwide and in the state of Oregon than white students are. And then you add on top of that the learning challenge or the disability, and it just magnifies all those issues. It magnifies issues for families too, because there’s a lack of trust in the schools because of their generational experiences with education systems.
“For parents who have kids with learning disabilities, there’s a lot of advocacy that you have to do, like talking to the teacher, talking to the principal, making sure they know your kid and what your kid needs. But for Black and Latino families, where there’s often not this trust there, they are not sure if they are going to be heard by the school. They may have not been heard before.”
“And then for some families, if they are undocumented, they may be afraid to engage with the school, and go through that official process to get an educational diagnoses. There are a number of barriers that families face.”
The Shadow Project partners with schools to provide programs for students with learning challenges, proven to increase reading and social-emotional skills and students’ belief that they are capable learners. The organization does outreach to families about literacy and sensory needs.
For resources on navigating special education, please visit FACT Oregon or look up your state’s local organization. Under federal law, every state is required to have an organization dedicated to helping families understand their child’s special education IEP or 504 plan, and educational rights.
See Shadow featured in the Education Matters segment:
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