December, 2013:

Beijing international student wins SENIA Student Award

Celeste Palmer riding a horse.

Celeste Palmer riding a horse.

Celeste Palmer, a Grade 6 student from the Western Academy of Beijing, is the third recipient of the Special Education Network in Asia (SENIA) Student Award. The SENIA Student Award honors a student with a disability who excels and advocates for the aspirations of children and youth with disabilities in Asia.

Celeste will be receiving her award at the SENIA 2014 Conference to be held in the United World College East Campus, Singapore on February 28 to March 1, 2014. Past recipients of the award include Andrea Zubiri and Samantha Johnson.

Having suffered a stroke before birth on the right side of her brain, Celeste developed hemiplegia and has difficulties with visual and spatial skills. She also has dyslexia and visual-spatial dyspraxia. Despite these challenges, Celeste exhibits a go-getter attitude, is passionate and confident.

Celeste has delivered a TED-X talk about saving stray animals. She is also an active student leader who advocates for all students. She lives her “come on, you can do it!” attitude as she achieve milestone after milestone. Told that she will not be able to ride a bike, Celeste learned to ride a bike and ride a horse too! Celeste influence touches others in her school and beyond. Her sponsor expressed that “due to Celeste magic influence, her year group shows concern for others, are thoughtful, kinder and considerate of others.”

“Save All Strays” by Celeste Palmer

SENIA also wishes to recognize the honorary SENIA Student Award winners including Charlie Taborda, Dominique Hilker, Justine Mallory Cham, Mark Daza, Robin Nicole Castañeda and Theo Thummim Miguel.



Dr. Shari Rosen wins inaugural SENIA Advocacy Award

Dr. Shari Rosen, a speech and language pathologist in Shanghai, China wins the first Special Education Network (SENIA) Advocacy Award. The SENIA Advocacy Award celebrates the achievement of a student, adult or group who encourages awareness and advocates for the aspirations of people with disabilities. The award honors those who exemplify the vision and mission of SENIA, which is to advocate in behalf of exceptional people in Asia.

Dr. Rosen will be receiving her award at the SENIA 2014 Conference to be held in the United World College East Campus, Singapore on February 28 to March 1, 2014.

Dr. Shari Rosen’s inspiring story of advocacy started when she moved to Shanghai in 2003. After witnessing the extreme lack of special needs services in China, she tirelessly worked as a volunteer to empower students, teachers and parents. Fueled by her passion to advocate for persons with disabilities in China, Dr. Shari Rosen and her husband chose to stay in China and become social entrepreneurs. After selling their home, they risked all they had to start Special Education Consulting. It has not been an easy road but today, their company has grown into the Essential Learning Group (ELG) with offices in five cities, two countries with over 90 staff members. In 2012, the ELG formed the XiErSen (Hope Forest), a local Chinese organization for Chinese families and children with autism.

Her advocacy work has taken Dr. Shari Rosen to various places as an advocate, expert speaker and consultant. She has worked with Red Thread Charities and has facilitated trainings for the American Speech, Language and Hearing Association (ASHA), the Special Education Network in Asia (SENIA), and other professional development seminars. Dr. Rosen, along with two professors, are currently working on a Fulbright Scholarship to bring graduate students in the field of special education and communication sciences and disorders to China.

Dr. Shari Rosen’s story truly inspires and compels all special education practitioners to continue to advocate for exceptional children in Asia. Congratulations, Dr. Shari Rosen and the Essential Learning Group!

Honorary certificates will be awarded to Dr. Francis Dimalanta (Philippines), Mr. Oscar Jonsson (China), Ms. Penny Robertson (Jakarta), Ms. Pilar Tan (China) and Surjati Soekraman (Singapore).

Feature Photo Credit: Leading the Way (2006)