Debra Wertz is a parent who has a child with a mental illness. Wertz said she learned a lot from this conference and wishes this information would have been available to her a long time ago.
"And I had to do a lot of research and reading to find out what I needed to do," said Wertz.
Keynote speaker, Kathy Chase Young, shared her story about her son who was diagnosed with ADHD, while the audience listened intently. She wants to help empower parents so they don't feel alone.
"Parents are going through the same struggles and very often they feel isolated," Young said.
Another parent, Oleta Maury, says even though her child is 17 with a disability, she has still learned a valuable lesson.
"Patience," Maury said. "A whole lot of patience, and willing to talk, willing to tell your story."
Wertz says she can relate to parents feeling isolated. She says the public school her son attended wanted to put him in an alternative school.
"The school was going to put my son in the alternative school and I knew that he didn't need punishment; he needed treatment," said Wertz.
Wertz ended up taking her son out of the public school system and enrolled him in a school called CARES, designed to help children with special needs. She says her son is now doing fine and is in the process of earning his GED.
As for Young, she said she feels most educators want what's best, but sometimes, she says it's hard for them to understand if they've never personally gone through it.
"They've either never personally been impacted or they just don't understand the value of every single child," said Young.
This conference was federally funded through grants and sponsored by the Mississippi Department of Education.