The purpose of the Dare to Dream Student Leadership conference is to highlight strategies and resources to prepare high school students with disabilities for college and career readiness. Each conference features keynote presentations from accomplished students and young adults with disabilities who have demonstrated exemplary self-advocacy and leadership skills. This year, Essex Valley School was fortunate enough to have the president of our Student Government, Ingy Kaleny give one of the keynote speeches. Ingy spoke eloquently and delivered a powerful speech in front of an audience of over 300 students and teachers. She spoke about how she overcame her challenges in life, and also how Essex Valley School provided her with the support and enrichment needed to ensure her successful transition to adulthood.
Additionally, the conference program includes a variety of concurrent workshop sessions that provide opportunities to gain insight into the transition from school to adult life. Students are able to participate in workshops led by their peers on topics such as self-discovery, self-advocacy, learning styles, developing career paths and understanding rights and responsibilities in college. Our EVS student government led one of the workshops, speaking on the importance of motivation. They developed worksheets, and each delivered speeches explaining the positive impact that a motivating figure had on their lives.
Dare to Dream has long been a positive and empowering experience for thousands of New Jersey's students and we were proud to have our students be involved in the conference as presenters. They demonstrated great leadership skills, courage and a sense of understanding. Our students found that their fellow conference attendees were able to relate to their experiences, and acknowledge their own empowerment upon hearing the stories of others. We would like to extend a special thanks to Pete Vasil and Pamela Griffin who are the advisors of our student government. Not only did they help our students prepare, but they also helped them build the confidence they needed to speak in a public setting without fear.