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BellaOnline's Gifted Education Editor


A Gifted Family Vacation Opportunity

Guest Author - Wenda Sheard J.D., Ph.D.

Want a unique family vacation? Families are most welcome to attend the July 2009 conference of the national organization Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted (SENG), from July 17-19, 2009 in Orlando, Florida. http://www.sengifted.org/ Presenters at the SENG conference include authors, psychologists, counselors, educators, and more.

This year the SENG children’s program and the new SENG teen’s program include behind-the-scenes adventures at Disney World. All children’s and teen’s registrations include an optional second day at Disney with parents after the conference ends. Early bird registration rates have been kept as low as possible this year---$250 for adults and teens and $200 for children---and include three keynote meals and a Saturday evening BBQ for socializing.

The SENG conference gives parents the opportunity to hear nationally known experts on social and emotional issues while their children enjoy a program especially prepared for them by experienced teachers and other presenters. The children’s program for ages 7-14 includes activities carefully planned by teachers of gifted youngsters. The teen program gives gifted adolescents ages 15-18 an opportunity to talk with experts in the field and forge new friendships with others who understand their unique characteristics.

Psychologist, aerospace engineer, and world champion freestyle skydiver Dale Stuart, Ph.D., Sc.D, will address families during her Sunday brunch keynote titled “Letting Dreams Take Flight.” The keynote, which will include a dramatic video of her freestyle skydiving, will recount her odyssey as a gifted young woman feeling passionate about many career areas, following her dreams, and taking advantage of unexpected opportunities.

Friday keynote speaker Alexinia Baldwin, Ph.D., will talk about finding diamonds among the gifted, and Saturday keynote speaker Susan Daniels, Ph.D. will share messages from her recent book, “Living with Intensity.” P. Susan Jackson of the Daimon Institute for the Highly Gifted will introduce teens to Dabrowski theory, and will anchor the adult conference Saturday strand on highly and profoundly gifted children.

Want to become a SENG Model Parenting Group facilitator? If you’re already a facilitator, do you want to move to a higher level? This year the conference will include comprehensive basic and advanced SENG Model Parenting Group training led by founders James Webb and Arlene DeVries, and led by other SENG experts. This training is open to all registered attendees and does not require special reservation.

The SENG mission is to inform gifted individuals, their families, and the professionals who work with them about the unique social and emotional needs of gifted individuals. I wholeheartedly support the SENG mission because I believe we must teach gifted children not merely academic matters, but also matters of the heart. We need to validate their feelings about their differences from the norm. We need to tell our children that whatever makes them smart in academic senses likely also makes them smart in other senses.
SENG began after a January 1981 Phil Donohue Show on giftedness and depression. On the show two families whose gifted children had committed suicide joined with psychologist James Webb and Joyce Juntune, who was then Executive Director of the National Association of Gifted Children. In an article about SENG’s history, James Webb wrote, “To everyone’s amazement, that edition of ‘The Donahue Show’ resulted in 20,000 calls and letters from people across the country confirming the extent of neglect, misunderstanding, and prevalence of myths regarding gifted children and their families.”

I encourage families to attend 2009 SENG conference because I believe that gifted children and adults need social and emotional support and knowledge. In my view, the failure of society as a whole to accept the reality of giftedness causes gifted children and adults very real social and emotional pain. As philosopher J.S. Mill wrote in the 19th century:

People think genius a fine thing if it enables a man to write an exciting poem, or paint a picture. But in its true sense, that of originality in thought and action, though no one says that it is not a thing to be admired, nearly all, at heart, think that they can do very well without it.

Let’s join together this summer to support our gifted children and their social and emotional needs.

Wenda Sheard, J.D., Ph.D. is president of SENG. She currently lives in Connecticut and works as an education policy researcher.
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