I went to the great and mighty Google and entered the following question:
What do special needs parents want?
Here’s a sampling of the results. There’s plenty to delve into and learn from. You know what answer I didn’t find?
Apparently the school system is launching an initiative to motivate special needs parents to attend informational workshops by offering them...badges.
I’m sure this is well-meaning, but I just don’t get it. Special needs parents are some of the most highly motivated parents out there. They maintain an active, independent parent advocacy group, SECAC. Why on earth would you think you could motivate them with badges? Were they out of stickers?
What happens if you earn all the badges? Do you get a sash?
If I wanted to get parents who are already over-burdened to participate in educational workshops I think I’d appeal to their innate desire to learn more about how they could become better equipped to support their children. If I wanted to provide incentives I’d be thinking along the lines of certificates for respite care and restaurant gift cards for those nights where everything has gone to pieces and you just can’t cook.
But, badges? No. It just wouldn’t enter my mind.
I promise I’ll keep my eye on this in case there’s somehow more about this that I don’t yet fully understand. But, at this very moment, it seems to be an unwitting insult to a group of parents in our community who are looking for empowerment, not token reinforcement.