Transition Fair helps special needs families

Nov. 04, 2013 @ 12:29 AM

 Johnny Eden cannot help but crack a smile as he talks about his aspirations, sitting behind a small table in a conference room in the King Family Library filling out a form that he hopes could change his life.

“I’m signing up for a diesel mechanic program,” Eden said. “I’ve always wanted to go into the Air Force and be an air mechanic.”

Thanks to the Transition Fair, which took place in Sevierville on Wednesday afternoon, the 18-year-old may see that dream become a reality.

The Transition Fair was put together to help families of children with special needs learn about different programs and services that are available to help with life after school.

Jeanne Tredup was in charge of the event, and more than happy to help find any service available that might fit the particular situation of an individual or family.

“People have so many questions, and they may not be aware of what’s available,” Tredup said. “When their kids get out of school, they don’t know what to do.”

Tredup occasionally pauses as she speaks, greeting people who walk into the room and pointing them in the right direction. She makes sure to take a moment to hear out each person who may have a question.

Representatives from various organizations and institutions were present with posters and pamphlets containing information on how they could help these families, as well as what others could do to help.

One such organization was Court Appointed Special Advocate Association, or CASA. According to CASA’s website, the organization is made up of volunteers who are appointed by a judge to watch over and advocate abused and neglected children.

Kathy Clemmons was a volunteer present on behalf of CASA, and she also volunteers in numerous other special needs causes that she said help to give a voice to the children and make a difference in their lives.

Having three adopted special needs children herself, Clemmons has a unique perspective on the transition fair.

“This is an awesome opportunity to come and see what’s available,” Clemmons said. “There’s so much here to help.” This year’s Transition Fair marked the third year that the event has occurred, and Tredup said she wants it to keep going strong every year. “We help all kinds of people,” Tredup said. “There’s a need for this. I hope it continues in the future.”

As Eden’s head was facing downward, visually scanning the form that just might help him bring his dream to life, he carefully chose which words he would use to convey his opinion of the Transition Fair, slowly raising his head as he spoke.

“It’s really helpful for the community to know they’re not alone,” Eden said. And with that one statement, Eden effectively summed up the Transition Fair. For those in the community who need help, sometimes there are people out there who care.