SENG

Director's Corner: Starting a Community Support Group the NZAGC Way

Starting a Community Support Group the NZAGC Way

By Rose Blackett (SENG Director, NZAGC President)

As president of the New Zealand Association for Gifted Children (NZAGC), parents wanting information on how to connect with other families who have gifted children often approach me. My personal journey as a parent of two gifted children started with reaching out to other parents of gifted children. The information, contacts, and resources I gained this way have been invaluable on my parenting pathway. Therefore, I would like to share with you how to set up a support group NZAGC style.

Most of our NZAGC branches started as support groups. A support group is less formal than a branch and when you are first considering getting together with other parents of gifted children, this is a lot less imposing and overwhelming than forming a branch.

The goal of NZAGC branches is to provide parents and families of gifted children contact with other people facing similar educational, parenting, and social/emotional challenges. A support group offers an informal way to gain this support. An important element of these initial support groups is the social contacts available to parents and their gifted children. I gained just as much as, if not more than, my children from my initial support group. Some of my long-term friends are parents I met in this way.

Gifted children provide their parents with many happy moments and times for celebration. Unfortunately, as with most things, there are challenges on the parenting journey. Many parents of gifted children live with a “bush-lawyer” who has the skill to win any battle… sometimes blindfolded. Research indicates this is particularly true when parenting gifted boys, who may exhibit negative physical behaviors when their needs are not being met, or the environment afforded to them does not meet their current needs. I can now confess that my own son fits this category and when I went in search of answers, the local gifted children’s support group provided many.

If there is no support group in your area you may feel strongly enough to set up your own. How you go about it depends somewhat on the community that you live in. Smaller communities often have networks in place that make communication with the members of that community easier, which will expedite contact. In larger communities other forms of communications may be required.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

WHAT FORM SHOULD YOUR GROUP HAVE?

SHOULD YOU CHARGE MEMBER FEES?

SUGGESTIONS ON HOW TO MAKE CONTACTS AND BUILD A NETWORK

These ideas may be useful in assisting you to start a support group that will provide you and your community with the help that you require. Contact with just one other family is the first step in forming a support group. NZAGC is celebrating its 40th Birthday in July 2015 at Waikato University. This is an open invitation to attend. Further information can be located online. You might even like to take extra time to explore the raw natural beauty offered in New Zealand. Haere mai! (You are all welcome!)

Rose Blackett is a registered educational psychologist with over twenty years experience in the education system. She is currently working in private practice with adults and children presenting with severe behavior challenges. Rose has worked at the primary, intermediate, secondary, and tertiary levels. She has extensive experience in working with children who are challenged by the education system as a classroom teacher, a Resource Teacher of Learning and Behaviour (RTLB), and a specialist educator in settings for children with significant special needs. Rose is the current president of the New Zealand Association for Gifted Children (NZAGC), founding president of Christchurch Explorers, and an advisor for the NZ Centre for Gifted Education. Rose has presented at national and international conferences and workshops on a range of educational topics. Her special interest areas include: learning disabilities, children’s social and emotional development, parenting, giftedness, and sensory processing.