Hundreds attend HISD’s What’s Next? Symposium

The Harlandale ISD Special Education Department hosted its sixth annual What’s Next? Symposium at the Centro Fitness Encino Ballroom on March 2.

The free event presented more than 60 services and resources available in the community for families and individuals with disabilities, making it the biggest one yet.

“For the most part, people just don’t know the services that are out there, and they’re kind of stuck in limbo,” Harlandale ISD Transition Facilitator Gerald Gawlik said. “They don’t know what to do or who to talk to. This is an opportunity for them to come and talk to a person face to face, have that meaningful conversation, and say, ‘What do I do next?’ and that’s what this whole thing is about, what can they do next.”

Some of the participating organizations included The ARC of SA, Ageless Living Home Health, SA Lighthouse, Eva’s Heroes, Project Caridad, West Side Lions, Alamo Local Authority AACOG, Down Syndrome Association, Autism Society of San Antonio, Project MEND, Children’s Association for Maximum Potential (CAMP) and Jamie’s Ranch.

During the event, families also had the opportunity to support their children while they participated in the Special Olympics Basketball game taking place in the gym next door.

“Once the Special Olympics Basketball is finished, parents can come in and meet with some service or agency that can help out their child for the rest of their life after high school,” Gawlik added.

The big event concluded with a special surprise. One of the symposium’s exhibitors, Believe It Foundation, announced that it was donating a Duet Bike, valued at approximately $10,000, to the district.

“We are going to be the first district in San Antonio to get one,” Gawlik said. “Our department worked together as a team to make sure we got it and surprised our Director Della Taylor. We will use it in our campuses, and hopefully, showcase it during the Cultural Arts Parade.”

This year, families also enjoyed fun raffle prizes and giveaways, including 44 Kindle Fires.

“Mr. Gawlik is one of the reasons why this was a huge success. If it wasn’t for his tireless efforts starting in August, none of this would be possible,” Special Education Coordinator Chrislane Puente said.

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