NSA Annual Conferences are fun for the whole family! We’ve got workshops and activities for all ages, whether you’re 6 or 96; fluent or a person who stutters! Read on to learn what sorts of activities we have, and to hear from some of our past conference participants. Our Family Conference Program will be available June 2014. In the meantime, why not check out our 2014 Conference Brochure to get a taste of what’s in store, and then register today online or via mail/fax/email (PDF)!
Why should my family attend the NSA Annual Conference?
The NSA strives to provide all attendees with a sense of camaraderie, acceptance, and empowerment at our conferences as well as to educate attendees about stuttering, regardless of whether they are a PWS or a family member of a PWS. One thing is certain, first time attendees find the conference to be a life-changing experience, and often, this is the first time in their lives they are with other PWS; imagine how amazing that must feel! Veteran attendees, whether adults, parents, teens or kids, will tell you that they look forward to the next conference from the moment the current one ends, and that by attending the conference each year they have formed life-long friendships.
How old must my child be to attend the conference and participate in workshops?
Children must be 6 years old at the time of conference and registered for kindergarten for the upcoming school year. We encourage entire families to attend the conference, but we do not offer individual babysitting services, nor do we tolerate children being dropped off in workshops strictly as a means of childcare. Children attending workshops must be able to follow simple directions, be respectful of their peers, and workshop presenters. All children attending workshops are expected to be able to participate as they feel comfortable, which is why we require the minimum age of 6 and kindergarten readiness. Please keep in mind the minimum age of 6 is a guideline and if you are unsure that your 6 year old child will be able to participate in a meaningful way in workshops, please make other arrangements for them.
When should our family arrive at the conference?
We recommend arriving on Tuesday. Family Programs beings conference activities at 11:00AM Wednesday morning, including a brief orientation, and offers workshops Wednesday afternoon. Wednesday evening we have some great activities and events planned. You asked for more events at the Annual Conference that keep us all together, and we strive to provide something for every age and price point, and we hope you enjoy the variety of options we have provided.
This is our first conference; do we really need to attend First Timers Orientation?
Yes! As mentioned above, our programs kick off at 10:00AM on Wednesday morning. At orientation we will talk about the conference, workshops & scheduling. This also gives you the opportunity to ask any questions or express any concerns that you may have before the workshops get underway. We also encourage ‘veteran’ conference attendees to join us at the Family Programs Orientation as the conference changes year to year and there is always something new to learn!
What can we expect from the workshops?
We strive to offer new workshops each year; however, the kids can still look forward to the popular scavenger hunt and other fun workshops with the Teen Advisory Council. ‘Tweens (11-13/14 years old) can once again look forward to workshops designed specifically for them. Teens always enjoy our open microphone and icebreaker sessions in addition to workshops and the mentoring opportunities between them and the younger attendees. Teens also have the opportunity to gain insight and learn from adults attending the conference. Parents can look forward to parent roundtables, discussions, and interactive workshops. As we get closer to the conference, please visit our website regularly to stay up to date on workshops, activities, and outings.
Are there any specials events that my family may be interested in?
Yes! There are a number of events for families – tours, bingo, karaoke and of course the banquet, auction, and dance on Saturday evening. Again, please check our website regularly for updates as the conference date approaches.
While at the conference who should I contact if I have questions or need assistance?
Stephanie Coppen, our Family Programs Administrator is available to assist you any time during conference. Additionally, any of our Family Programs Committee members, Teen Advisory Council members, or NSA staff members will be happy to assist you. You will have the opportunity to meet them at registration and/or Wednesday’s Family Orientation.
What are the ages of attendees at the conference? Will my child have the opportunity to meet others his/her age?
The Family Program of the conference is open to kids & teens ages 6-19. The kids and teens are separated into smaller, age appropriate groups. There is always an assortment of ages represented at the conference and your child will most certainly be able to meet and get to know other kids their age.
Are siblings welcome?
Absolutely! Siblings are welcome at the conference if they are 6 years old and registered for kindergarten for the upcoming school year. The NSA Family Program offers workshops specifically for siblings, though they are also welcome to attend workshops along with their brother/sister. However, workshops should not be a substitute for childcare. If a sibling is not able to participate in a meaningful and respectful manner in workshops, we respectfully request that you make other arrangements for them so that all of our attendees are able to get the most out of each workshop and their overall conference experience.
Is childcare available?
The NSA does not provide childcare. Please contact the hotel concierge for details of any childcare service they may provide.
What safeguards are in place to ensure the safety of my child while they attend workshops?
All NSA volunteers have been thoroughly background screened. We also uphold a strict practice of ‘two or more’, which means that no one child is ever alone with any one adult. Additionally, parents are required to sign their children ages 6-10 in and out of workshops. No child under 10 years old will be released from a workshop without a parent or guardian signing them out. For children 11 and older, it is the responsibility of the parent(s) and their child to decide upon an arrangement that works for them at conclusion of each workshop.
My child/teen is apprehensive about attending. What can I tell him/her that may put them at ease?
This is a normal response, especially for first timers! We often hear from parents and kids/teens that once they get past the initial nervous moments, they feel like they’ve known the other attendees forever. Actually, many parents report that once their kids attend their first workshop, begrudgingly, and get involved with a new group of friends, that they don’t see much of them again until it’s time to leave on Sunday! If you or your child is still apprehensive, members of our Family Programs Committee and Teen Advisory Council would be happy to reach out to you or your teen prior to conference to go over what to expect and ease minds.
Who should I contact with questions prior to attending the conference?
Still on the fence? Check out these videos from a few of our NSA Parents!