Introduction

Purpose: 

The SSPA’s key annual activity is the National Convention.  Each year the Convention is hosted by a different State branch of the SSPA over a five-day period during the September/October school holidays each year.to enable attendance from all areas across Australia.   The Conventions have been held annually since 1968 and registration is open to all current and new members of the SSPA as well as prospective members and short-statured people from overseas

The entire program of the National Convention is devoted to supporting short statured people and their families; with a focus on empowering short-statured people for the betterment of both the individual and society.

The purposes of the Convention are manifold.  They are structured events designed to provide short statured individuals and their families with a unique and important opportunity to gain highly specialised medical assistance, hear the latest medical research relating to short stature, participate in workshops on a broad range of issues, develop social support networks, extend the range of experiences and activities for individuals (usually not available without specialized arrangements) and most importantly to build confidence and self-esteem to positively achieve in the broader community.

The National Convention is important for many reasons. The most compelling reasons are:

·     For many short statured individuals it is the only event of its type in Australia that they can attend and receive the appropriate support, assistance and advice

·     Each year we successfully engage short-statured individuals who have been isolated for their entire lives; have never met another short-statured individual; have never received appropriate medical or social assistance and have even been the recipient of inaccurate or an outdated diagnosis.

·     Provide important positive early intervention for families with a newly diagnosed baby with short stature.  Early interventions cannot only be medical in nature.  Interventions need to be focused around the individual and the family, not merely the condition.

Convention aims: 

To provide an annual opportunity for short statured individuals of all ages to:

·     Acquire up-to-date medical knowledge and advice

·     Participate in self-esteem and confidence building workshops

·     Seek advice and guidance on education, careers and vocational options

·     Enhance skill development (sporting or passive recreational pursuits generally not available otherwise)

·     Participate in artistic and cultural programs (e.g. production of the “Short Artss” performance over the Convention period)

·     Enhance the life experience for all short statured people as it gives people with disabilities the confidence to travel and provides accessibility for them to do so

·     Build and strengthen support networks nationally.

The Convention also provides a unique opportunity for families, especially new families with a newly born/diagnosed short statured individual, to positively deal with all aspects and ensuing outcomes of short stature.

Convention outcomes: 

The outcomes of the annual SSPA National Convention include:

·     Conduct of the AGM and election of National Council office-bearers.

·     Awarding of the McHugh-Henderson Memorial Award for Outstanding Achievement to an individual member with short stature.

·     Medical day with geneticists, rehabilitation experts and social workers participating from around Australia.

·     Formal networks established through linking new members with existing members.

·     Mentoring relationships developed between younger short-statured and older short-statured members.

·     New families support through introduction to existing family networks.

·     Transfer of specialised advice from members; e.g. mobility issues, adaptive devices, employment advice, clothing assistance.

·     Participation in structured social and recreational activities that explore new opportunities and provide skill development.

·     Provision of structured leadership development opportunities for teenage and young adult short-statured individuals.

·     Enhanced self-esteem amongst those with a disability from realising that they are not the only ones who experience life’s difficulties.

Benefits for those attending: 

Dwarfism is a genetic disability that affects 1 in 26,000 individuals born in Australia.  Dwarfism, herein referred to as short stature, is defined as when an individuals height does not
reach beyond 4’ 11’’. Recent advances in genetic research have lead to the identification of in excess of 300 differing types of short stature.  These conditions vary in severity, the necessity for major medical and surgical interventions and the level of adaptations required for functioning in society, particularly in relation to mobility.  All short statured individuals do ‘look different’, not only do they have to navigate in a world built for 6 foot individuals, they have to contend on a daily basis with a society that places great emphasis on appearance. Short stature is not merely about size! 

The most constructive way to deal with the complex mix of medical, functional and social issues for individuals with short stature has been the creation and successful conduct of the Short Statured People’s Association of Australia Inc (SSPA). The SSPA undertakes a number of core functions but its key annual activity is the conduct of a National Convention.  Each year the Convention is hosted by a different state branch of the SSPA to enable attendance from all areas across Australia.  

The entire program of the conference is devoted to supporting short statured people and their families; with a focus on empowering short statured people for the betterment of both the individual and society.

The purposes of the conference are manifold.  They are structured events designed to provide short statured individuals and their families with a unique and important opportunity to gain highly specialised medical assistance, hear the latest medical research relating to short stature, participate in workshops on a broad range of issues, develop social support networks, extend the range of experiences and activities for individuals (usually not available without specialized arrangements) and most importantly to build confidence and self-esteem to positively achieve in the broader community. (See attached program)

The National Convention is important for many reasons. The most compelling reasons are:

•   For many short statured individuals it is the only event of its type in Australia that they can attend and receive the appropriate support, assistance and advice each year we successfully engage short statured individuals who have been isolated for their entire lives; have never met another short statured individual; have never received appropriate medical or social assistance and have even been the recipient of inaccurate or an outdated diagnosis

•  Provide important positive early intervention for families with a newly-diagnosed baby with short stature. Early interventions cannot only be medical in nature. Interventions need to be focused around the individual and the family, not merely the condition.

It is for these reasons that the SSPA deliberately choosing a different state or territory each year to host the Convention. This is a critical component of our Association reaching out to people of short stature regardless of geography.

© 2014 SSPA.