PEAK Parent Center holds a set of core visions and values that underlie our work:
- All children can learn and have the right to participate in their schools and communities.
- Disability equality is inherently a civil rights issue.
- Schools and communities are enhanced by recognizing the diversity among citizens.
- Individuals with disabilities are positive role models whose experiences and perspectives are beneficial to students with and without disabilities and their families.
- Neighborhood schools can develop the capacity to support diverse learners in general education which benefits all students.
- Families have the most significant influence on the development, learning, and educational achievement of their children.
- Families can successfully participate collaboratively with professionals on behalf of their children if they have information and training.
- Families have the capacity to make good decisions and assist their children in achieving outcomes when they have information and training.
- Educators and families are more confident and successful when they have current information on evidence-based practices as well as the supports to implement them.
- Parent Centers foster independence so families are empowered to participate and advocate for their children throughout their lives.
- One of the most challenging things families face when they have a child with a disability is feelings of isolation. Peer-to-peer connections are powerful and transformational, so connecting families who have children with disabilities to one another is one of PEAK’s goals.
- Language shapes and reinforces our attitudes toward others. Disability labels focus on what the individual cannot do rather than the person’s abilities. People First Language looks at the individual before the disability. A disability is something that an individual has, not what an individual is. As our language changes, perceptions and attitudes also change. People First Language helps in the movement toward the acceptance, respect, and inclusion of individuals with disabilities.
Why PEAK's Work Matters
PEAK improves the lives of families of children with disabilities by walking with them and guiding them through challenges they face when they try to access education and community services. Through PEAK’s work and advocacy, families and schools increase their expectations and provide opportunities for students with disabilities to aim for high achievement standards. PEAK is non-adversarial and promotes positive communication skills that facilitate families and school staff working together to resolve issues often faced by children with disabilities at school such as segregation, low expectations, social isolation, harassment, discrimination, and bullying. Research shows that when families are involved in their child’s education, their children have better outcomes. PEAK supports and empowers families to be actively involved in navigating the special education process, because we believe that every child matters and every child should have access to an education that leads to self sufficiency, independence, employment, and meaningful community involvement.
In order to create systems change that truly improves outcomes for children and adults with disabilities, PEAK not only works one-on-one with families, but also collaborates with state and federal government as well as the education, rehabilitation, advocacy, and medical communities.