SCOTCH PLAINS — Union Catholic High School Senior Will Marsh has been an advocate for dyslexia awareness since shortly after being diagnosed in third grade.
He created a conference to raise awareness about the condition, which affects 1 in 5 individuals to some degree. “Spotlight on Dyslexia,” will be held at Union Catholic on Saturday, Oct. 5 from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The conference will include a keynote speech by G. Emerson Dickman, J.D. (Past President of the International Dyslexia Association and member of the National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities); a screening of the HBO documentary, The Big Picture: Rethinking Dyslexia; a panel discussion of professionals, parents, and dyslexic students; breakout sessions on key issues about dyslexia by field specialists; and a resource fair.
All are welcome and encouraged to attend. Registration is available at http://spotlightondyslexia-es2.eventbrite.com.
In the past, Marsh has raised funds for the dyslexia walk in Scotch Plains, has mentored other dyslexic students, and has even testified in front of the NJ Senate Education Committee in support of several laws regarding dyslexia. He has traveled to Washington D.C. with several Decoding Dyslexia members (a parent-led grassroots movement that began two years ago in NJ and has since spread to 33 other states) to meet with the NJ congressmen and, this past summer, earned an internship with Learning Ally (formerly the Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic) where he created a database for each state containing dyslexia resources. Will has also been nominated for the International Dyslexia Association Remy Johnston award, a unique award that is only presented to dyslexics under age 25 for their community involvement and refusal to be limited by their learning differences. Will is the PAC (Performing Arts Company) President, and an active member of SMAC (Student Movement Against Cancer) and Forensics.
Marsh is hoping that the conference on Oct. 5 will raise factual awareness about dyslexia and dispel any misconceptions that people have. His goal is for students, parents, and educators to leave the conference equipped with the resources they need to maximize learning for dyslexic students.
“When you ask a person what they think dyslexia is, most people initially think that it means reading backwards; in actuality, this only happens in the most extreme cases,” Marsh notes. “Through the conference, I am hoping that attendees will come to understand that yes, those with dyslexia do have difficulty reading and spelling, but they also have unique strengths like seeing the big picture and using multidimensional thinking. Many of ‘the greats’ have been dyslexic, including Steve Jobs of Apple, Inc., Richard Branson of Virgin Group, and even Walt Disney.”
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