LAUSD CUTS--Special needs student Djanai Hall, 11, listens as her mother, Linda Hall, addresses the LAUSD school board and begs them not to cut special education teachers at tuesday's board meeting. The board was going to vote on it's budget, but delayed the vote until April 14th.
My name is Linda B. Hall, I am the mother of a developmentally delayed 16 year old girl with Cerebral Palsy who suffers from seizures named Djanai, a typically abled 8 year old girl Djaeda, and a typical 6 year old boy, Djordan. As a family with a child with special needs, we encounter many different challenges on any given day.
Although society has made it's attempts at being more sensitive to the needs of those of different abilities, in general there is still a lot of insensitivity when it comes to their special needs. It has been a challenge to find activities in which the whole family could participate in due to the inability to accommodate a child in a wheelchair. Also, finding simple things like clothing or toys suitable for my child with special needs has always been difficult.
As a mom, I wanted to find a way to change all that, to offer my experience and guidance to others. I want to change the way people look at Special Needs and see how we are all special in our own way and all deserve to be treated equally with equal access to the things we need.
As Djanai got older and bigger, I began to realize how hard it was getting to find things for us to do with her. She was getting too tall to do the things she liked to do because they were made for little kids. Most kids with special needs aren't always mentally or physically capable of doing what typical kids their age can do. So my journey began in search of ways to keep her active and enjoying life like her siblings.
In 2009, I was asked by parents and staff at Djanai's Special Education Center to represent the parents and help talk to LAUSD about the cuts and beg them not to let teachers go or close down the school. Unfortunately, LAUSD still closed down Sellery Special Education Center in Gardena, we were all very sad but atleast we didn't go down without a fight. In 2010, I entered Oprah's Contest to create a show about the lives of those with Special Needs in hopes of raising awareness. I thought that maybe if we were in people's homes, they would see our struggle and learn to be more patient and compassionate when it comes to people with disabilities. My show idea didn't win but I was able to raise awareness and it helped me to see the bigger picture.
I continued to work on ideas of how I could help the Special Needs Community and finally started Djanai's Angels in April of 2013. I embarked on this mission to create a one stop shop for parents of children with special needs. A vision to open a recreational facility that caters to those with special needs and to open a boutique where parents could find all types of things made especially for their child. I started with my Angel Awareness Projects teaching kids at a local elementary school about the different types of disabilities and we do projects that we can mail or give to children with special needs. I am dedicated to serving the needs of our community each and every day. Exposing typically able kids to those who are differently abled and teach them how to play with one another, building friendships, teaching compassion and patience, creating a stronger more tolerant community.