In July of 2014, Jill Fummerton responded to a proposal to start a nonprofit family network for families of children living with disabilities in Douglas County. She received the contract in September of 2014, and the Families Engaging And Thriving Together Family Network has been growing ever since.

We support families in three main areas: social events, trainings and advocacy.

Many families feel strong emotions when they first receive their child’s diagnosis, which can create an intense feeling of isolation. Our social activities and events are geared toward bringing families together in a supportive environment with other families who just get it. This helps to reduce those feelings of isolation and encourages family-to-family support.

We host numerous events for our families, including a monthly mom’s night out, a dad’s night out, a monthly family event, group outings to community events, a yearly time with Santa event and more. Social activities promote networking between families where parents and caregivers can share experiences, concerns and advice with one another.

We have worked with multiple community partners, including Swindell’s, FACT Oregon, Douglas Education Service District and ABLE to bring trainings to families and keep them free of charge. Take Root Parenting has supported FEATT by providing paid child care for multiple trainings and events as well as locations for trainings.

On March 10, FEATT partnered with Autism Society of Oregon and Southern Oregon Regional Brokerage, Connections Case Management to host a training for first responders on interacting with individuals with disabilities.

We participate in advocacy with and for families by attending school meetings, such as IEP and behavior support meetings, as support for parents or caregivers. We also meet with legislators in Salem during legislative session and share information about how certain bills may affect families of children with disabilities.

We will also soon be hosting Strong Start, a parent leadership program. Through this program, parents will become more empowered as they learn to communicate and advocate effectively and how to influence social and systems change.

Since November of 2018, FEATT has been actively facilitating a program called Sibshops. Every member of the family is important and that includes siblings! Sibshops is a time just for siblings of children living with disabilities to connect and share their feelings in a safe space while playing high-energy games and having fun.

We continue to grow in our community involvement as well. FEATT sponsors a table at Wildlife Safari every year on Celebrate Children Day. We sponsor sensory friendly movies at our local theater and are currently working to bring sensory friendly shopping hours to a local grocery store. The FEATT Family Network believes every family has strengths and unique gifts to contribute and looks for ways to decrease barriers and help our families feel a sense of belonging in the community.

Our Mission Statement: We are here to embrace families touched by children with disabilities. We believe that when families unite, they become stronger and share a more optimistic vision of a future without limitations.

By promoting a positive understanding of disabilities, our communities are better able to share in the belief that our children can achieve their goals and dreams while leading a full, abundant life.

Ashley Wells is the Family Outreach Coordinator for FEATT. She has two children with special needs.

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never seen the News Review post a person's photo sideways, can you fix it

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