DREAM Fund Recipients

 

2016

Photo: Paulina Larenas, Portland, OR Paulina Larenas (2016)

Paulina is originally from Chile and works for a non-profit organization in Oregon, called FACT Oregon (Family and Community Together), that provides parent training information and outreach to families, communities and individuals experiencing disability focusing in special education, but also accessing the services they need including health.

She has worked for two years with Oregon’s LEND at the Child Development and Rehabilitation Center clinic. Some of her projects include the creation of an early autism detection program for Latino families, and more recently a member of their Diversity Task Force, which is a group of providers, administrators, and community members that are helping to identify needs within the department surrounding diversity and inclusion, coming up with an action plan in how to serve these needs, and then carrying it out to make changes that will better serve children and families as well as the employees.

Paulina is a parent of a child with Autism and Cowden syndrome a rare genetic disorder that is linked to several different diagnoses and health issues. She has advocated and put a lot of work into getting her medical and school staff, as well as her service providers to know her, listen to concerns, and realize that she is the expert on her daughter. She is continually working to change the stigma people have about individuals experiencing disability, focusing on their strengths and capacities, and how they can be supported to be successful and have a whole life.

 As a person from a difficult culture, Paulina feels the necessity to advocate for her community, for her daughter, for minorities, and for all people experiencing disabilities so they have a voice. She always tries to bring her experience as a parent of a kid with disabilities, as a professional working with families, and as a minority in navigating the systems and overcoming the barriers to her work and the field.