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Lakeland Schools To Host 'Let It Shine' For ADD Awareness

Lakeland Central School District Guidance Counselor Melissa Smith, right, stands with son Jacob Leo and Dr. Edward Hallowell.
Lakeland Central School District Guidance Counselor Melissa Smith, right, stands with son Jacob Leo and Dr. Edward Hallowell. Photo Credit: Courtesy Melissa Smith

CORTLANDT MANOR, N.Y. – Lakeland Central School District’s Melissa Smith wants parents to know that they are not alone in dealing with Attention Deficit Disorder and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

Smith, who has a child diagnosed with ADHD, is helping coordinate a series of seminars focusing on the learning disabilities called “Let It Shine” from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Walter Panas High School in Cortlandt Manor. The free and open sessions are set to include a variety of activities, guest speakers and workshops about the “various learning challenges facing our children,” according to a press release. As a guidance counselor, Smith said she knows the difficulties the disorders can cause for local families.

“It hits me each and every year that students with learning challenges can fall through the cracks at times,” she said. “But if it’s handled correctly, these kids can really shine. They have strengths and it might be harder to find them in the traditional classroom structure but they are there. We just have to find them.”

Smith said it was important for both parents and children to learn about ADD and ADHD so they are better equipped to handle it should a child be diagnosed.

“People don’t have to be ashamed of learning differences and mental health issues,” Smith said. “I think if more parents and kids were really aware of that, we wouldn’t see a lot of kids dropping out of school or self-medicating to try and stop it. But right now I see those things happen a lot.”

The Lakeland Central School District has recognized the need, Smith said.

“I am so happy to work there because it is a tough world in education right now but they are unbelievably supportive of this,” she said. “I think we’re one of the first districts that is educating kids in the younger grades about what to do after being diagnosed and I think it has made a huge difference.”

Let It Shine is all about addressing the stigma associated with various learning challenges like ADHD and Asperger's Syndrome. Admission is free, and the event is open to the public. Participants will also get the chance to visit vendor tables of local providers and participate in various student activities and games, according to the press release. The event is sponsored by Lakeland Central School District SEPTA, Lakeland Pupil Personnel Department, St. Mary’s Church, Episcopal Charities All Our Children Community Grant and A Yorktown Interfaith Clergy Association “Save-A-Life” Event.

For more information, residents are asked to contact Smith at msmith@lakelandschools.org or at 914-739-2306 ext. 505. Walter Panas High School is located at 300 Croton Ave. Cortlandt Manor.

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