The 11th Annual Union County Transition Fair: Providing Valuable Information For Families With Exceptional Children

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Friendly faces and colorful displays lined the walls at the 11th Annual Union County Transition Fair. One booth was festively decorated with balloons. Another spread out neckties in a variety of patterns. The ties were gifts for students that were in need of job coaching, to help polish their appearance during the interview process. And of course, quite a few tables offered candy.

Students browse a vendor booth.

The Transition Fair was held at the Agriculture and Conference Center at 3230 Presson Drive, Monroe, NC on Wednesday, April 19th. Fifty local agencies had vendor booths, where they displayed information about their mission, and representatives answered questions from both students and parents. The theme of the event this year was, “Embracing Transition: Preparing for your child’s future.”

Vendors set up colorful tables at the 11th Annual Transition Fair.

The Union County Transition Fair is an event designed for families that have students in the Exceptional Children’s Program at Union County Public Schools. The purpose is to help families connect with community resources, especially when they have children transitioning or graduating out of the school environment and into the community.

A.D.E.P.T. Nonprofit Services supports employment by offering job coaching and trial work experience, among other services.

Each year there are two sessions. The morning session is designed for high school students and the evening session is designed for parents. Students attend with their classes as a field trip. Parents’ attendance is optional and is not restricted to a grade level.

South Piedmont Community College offers continuing education.

The morning session lasted from 9:30 am until 12:00 pm. Students were able to browse the vendor displays. They were also able to attend a Showcase of Employer Partnerships, as well as an Employability Seminar and a Healthy Lifestyles presentation. Students, staff, and vendors were all provided lunch.

The Arc of Union/Cabarrus County provides advocacy services and programs for individuals with developmental disabilities.

The evening session was from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm. Parents were also able to browse the vendor booths. At 6:50 pm and 7:50 pm two sessions were held that allowed parents to hear presentations from various agencies that help address issues such as pursuing guardianship, planning for their child’s future independence, coordinating Social Security Income, and options for employment and continuing education.

The Special Needs Advisory Council for Union County Schools is made up of parents of children with special needs.

There were also two guest speakers at both the morning and evening sessions, Ms. Melinda Pressley and her son, Matthew Tucker. Their topic was “Embracing the Future,” and they spoke of their own story as a family, that included challenges and successes.

The Transition Fair provides valuable information for the families of Union County. Many parents of children with special needs have come to the end of their school journey with questions about what to do next. Once a child is no longer in the educational system, they need a new daily routine. One that includes both purposeful work and enjoyment.

Every year the Transition Fair has grown, and the variety of agencies represented has increased. Agencies or nonprofits that are interested in hosting a booth at the next Transition Fair can contact Mary Walls, the Unit Manager at Vocational Rehabilitation Services, at 704-982-8124, or send an email to Parents that are interested in attending the next Transition Fair, or who would like to get information about the agencies that attended this year’s Fair, can call Janie Webb, Director of Exceptional Children’s Programs, at 704-296-6370.

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Annie Beth Donahue lives in Indian Trail, North Carolina with her husband Brad, and four children. She is a professional writer for both the web and print, and she can be found at

Annie Beth also has a bachelor's degree in music therapy from Queens University of Charlotte, and has either been working with or parenting children with special needs for the past 18 years. She is a children's book author and the founder and president of Signposts Ministries, a 501(c)3 nonprofit that serves families that have children with chronic health problems or disabilities. In her non-working time, she homeschools and oversees the children's care of their small menagerie made up of chickens, two donkeys, a dog, a cat, and a snake.