WKU Hosts Special Needs Summit to Prevent Bullying

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By Melissa Warren | 

Bullying in schools is a growing problem, and it's one that can be particularly difficult for those with special needs.

WKU's Susanne Vitale Clinical Education Complex is hosting a Special Needs Summit this month addressing the issue of bullying in the special needs community.

"Any child can be bullied, but whenever you have a disability or a special need, that can make you more of a target," said Suzanne Vitale Clinical Education Complex's Family Resource Program Coordinator Vella Mae Travis.

The summit is targeted at any parent, teacher, or student in the special needs community. Dr. Allen Bean, President of Bully Free Systems will discuss the signs and how to respond to bullying. Students in WKU's Kelly Autism Program will also speak.

The Kelly Autism students can talk about their experiences and what they've gone through, so that others can learn and realize that bullying is a problem. It's an issue that's on the rise," said WKU intern and summit coordinator Lauren Edison.

One Kelly Autism Program participant saw the effects of bullying first-hand, and says the most important thing to remember when being bullied is you're not alone.

"The more friends you have, there's a lower chance of being bullied at all. Because, I believe if you handle it alone, then there's going to be more problems than usual," said Kelly Autism Program Participant and WKU student Ryan Williams.

Williams' message to anyone being bullied is that it gets better.

"As soon as you get to college, it's much different. There's rarely any bullies, especially here at WKU. I feel like if you can fight this, not with your knuckles, but with your mind more, then I'd say it will not be a problem," said Williams.

The summit will take place Friday, Oct. 26 at WKU's Carol Knicely Conference Center. Travis says anyone with an interest in the special needs community is urged to join. For more information on the event and registration go to http://www.wku.edu/ccs/cec/

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