Special Kids, Incorporated (SKI) is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization founded in 1990 by two frustrated, take-action parents: Agnes A. Johnson and Rose J. Ferguson. At the kitchen table, Agnes and Rose rolled out the plan for the SKI Project because they both had children with unique needs that were not being met by the systems designed to provide services to their child with disability. In their pursuit, they found they were not alone. They too were faced with the obstacles many parents continue to face when seeking services all children need to be successful in school and in the community in which they lived.
Agnes and Rose desired to see all children live life to the fullest potential. Thus, the motivation to empower parents of children with disabilities to advocate for the rights of their children evolved into Special Kids, Incorporated.
Special Kids, Incorporated (SKI) is still proudly serving Houston and the surrounding areas. The need for training, empowerment, and support to families of children with disabilities is just as great now than it was more than 25 years ago.
Agnes Johnson, Co-Founder
Agnes Johnson, mother of six daughters and legal secretary, is a Co-Founder of Special Kids, Inc. In 1982, she was blessed with Shannon, a child with autism and an intellectual disability. She was diagnosed at the age of 2. In her own words, “The idea to form my own parent support group was germinated outside the school district while I was carrying a picket sign that said ‘HISD Won’t Talk to Parents, Only the News Media.’” Out of frustration and determination, she and her close friend, Rose Ferguson, started Special Kids, Inc. Her loved for children prompted her to adopted her youngest daughter, Lil’ Agnes, who from birth demonstrated she is a survivor. Lil’ Agnes was diagnosed with developmental delay, ADHD, and speech impairment. She later learned that her second daughter, who struggled through most of her academic career, had dyslexia. Agnes’ effective advocacy skills was the driving force that opened the door for her 2nd daughter to go on to receive a Certification in Medical Billing and Coding at Houston Community College.
Agnes, Executive Director until her death in 2006, was instrumental in expanding SKI’s goals from only providing parent support to providing training and information. She developed partnerships with other advocacy organizations throughout the United States as well as co-founded the Grassroots Consortium on Disabilities. Agnes sat on various boards throughout the City of Houston; Neighborhood Centers, Inc., Head Start Health Board, People in Partnership, and the Anne E. Casey Foundation. Her grant writing expertise allowed SKI and Grassroots to be funded by the Department of Education for many years. Agnes’ belief in empowering and educating children prompted her to found and launch Camp OMBC in 2000; a faith-based summer camp that provided inclusion for children with or without disabilities.
Rose Ferguson, Co-Founder
Rose Ferguson, co-founder, also had passion for children with disabilities which manifested while caring for her foster child who came to her with autism. She held the position as Training and Outreach Coordinator until she was appointed Executive Director, 2006. She too has sat on the various boards including the Harris County Mental Health Advisory Board and the HISD Board of Parents as a Liaison. Rose also served on the State of Texas Committee on Dis-proportionality, as a Surrogate Parent for HISD, and a Children’s Protective Services MAP Trainer. Her desire was to continue to implement the mission of Special Kids, Inc. and carry on the vision that she and Agnes saw over 25 years ago. Through her leadership SKI has continued to address the needs and barriers faced by children with disabilities. She serviced in this capacity until her death in 2013. Rose touched the lives of hundreds of families in Harris and the surrounding counties.
Gone but not forgotten: Agnes Johnson (August 15, 2006) and Rose Ferguson (December 28, 2013). These to women have charted a path that has left a rich legacy that lives on through passed on knowledge of not only why SKI is needed in our community but how to empower parents of children with disabilities with awareness and the ability to advocate of the needs of their children. Their legacy lives on as SKI continues working to assist parents with the services their children rightfully deserve. Proudly, SKI will continue providing training, support, and information to the families of children with disabilities.
SKI serves many families per year through one-on-one consultations, advocacy, training, news & events, and family support. Our commitment to helping parents meet the basic needs of their families is in our service to assistance with housing resources, food, social services, transportation and educational supports. It is a true privilege to serve them. In 2006, SKI opened the Agnes Johnson Computer Technology Center to provide Special Kids families access to the internet and computer technology. In 2008, we also assisted displaced of Hurricane Ike with food, one/one support, and transportation. In 2009, we launched the SIPS program (SKI in Public Schools). This program is designed to bridge the communication gap between parents of children receiving special education services, faculty, and school administrators. Additionally, for the past 25 years SKI has hosted children with disabilities and their families at our annual Winter Forum/Christmas Party. We are proud of the work we are doing as we have distributed thousands of toys these children and their siblings. Each year gets better and better.
Our lives have been forever changed by the beautiful families and children we’ve served. Read our Success Stories to hear about the impact that SKI has had!