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This is a one-time webinar for sickle cell disease caregivers, students, educators, providers, warriors, caregivers, and their families with tailored expertise and the opportunity to interact with experts through our live virtual Q&A sessions.

**Although this event is free to the public, donations are suggested to help keep Cayenne Wellness Center events like this going.


Topic: Understanding 504 and IEP Plans Sickle Cell Disease and School-A Parent, Guardian, and Student Educational Workshop

Subject-matter Experts: Elle Cole (Caregiver), Star Simmons (Caregiver and CHW), Vanessa Rhodes (Educator and Caregiver), Brenda Green (Caregiver), Jasmin Baker (Student)

2:00 pm – 2:10 pm | Introduction

2:10 am – 8:10 am | Objectives

-What is SCD?

-What causes sickle cell disease?

-What are the symptoms of sickle cell disease?

-How is sickle cell disease diagnosed and treated?

-What are the common challenges that individuals with sickle cell disease face in school?

-504 and IEP: What is the difference?

2:40 am – 3:00 pm | Preparing for school with sickle cell disease: Primary school & Middle school – Star Simmons

3:00 am – 5:00 pm | Discussion + Q&A Brenda Green and Jasmin Baker

5:00 pm | Adjourn

Meet Our Subject-Matter Experts

Vanessa Rhodes

Vanessa is a mother of an adult SS Warrior, advocator, and an educator.  She is a self proclaimed lover of the educational process as evidenced by the variety of positions she has held over the past 36 years.  She has served as a teacher, curriculum writer, principal, Educational Administrator, mentor of new teachers, PTA President and Junior Varsity & Varsity Cheer Coach in both public and private schools and universities.  In addition she homeschooled her children when they were young. Vanessa is the Educational Special Projects Manager for Sickle Cell Community Consortium, a type of UN of Community Based Organizations (CBOs) globally.  In addition she consults schools and homeschooling families about curriculum development. Vanessa currently resides in Arkansas with her husband and two sons.  She can be contacted by email: .

Brenda Green

Founder & CEO

The B Strong

Brenda Green is a manager with a government agency in Columbia, SC and has been with the agency for over 23 years. Brenda is married and the mother of three children. Her youngest, Braden (now age 17), has sickle cell disease. In 2017, after years of managing Braden’s sickle cell disease as a family, she along with her husband, Patrick, founded The B Strong Group, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, in honor of Braden and all the many sickle cell warriors who fight daily. Their mission is to spread awareness of sickle cell disease through advocacy, education and volunteering while empowering the sickle cell community. Brenda has navigated the public school system since Braden was in the first grade. He is now a senior in high school. Brenda looks forward to sharing strategies that she has learned over the years in ensuring successful school years for her son.

Jasmin Baker

The greatest impact that my sickle cell disease has had on my life is helping me find my passion. My motivation for pursuing my degree and career in education stems from my personal experiences with education, former teachers, current mentors, and my experience with having a chronic illness. For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be an educator. I have been working diligently toward this dream, turned goal, for over six years. Through support from caring mentors, academic coursework, and extensive volunteer experiences, I am well on my way to achieving my goal.

I have spent a significant part of my life in the hospital due to my sickle cell disease. Being constantly hospitalized, sometimes for an extended time, has always made my school journey challenging. However, my experience has taught me so much about perseverance and determination; shaping me into a hard worker who never quits. My experiences have also  significantly shifted my perception of education. Dealing with frequent academic interruptions, my disability has allowed me to experience the importance of laying a solid academic foundation early in life.

My goal as a prospective elementary school teacher is to teach children that no matter what obstacles they may face, they can overcome any adversity with hard work and determination. My chronic illness is a great motivator for my pursuit in the education field. It is an obstacle I face and will continue to face. Nevertheless, I have learned that it doesn’t hinder my ability to reach my greatest potential; I just have to work twice as hard to do so. I have been able to push through, and not let my diagnosis define me or my success.

I am determined and resilient and know that I am capable of achieving any goal I put my mind to. As a future teacher, I hope to instill these traits in my students and those around me.  Despite my chronic illness, I have accomplished a lot as a college student thus far. I am a 4.0 student who is double majoring in Sociology and Elementary Education. Along with my academic success, I am heavily involved in my campus and community. I have a part-time, on-campus job, I am a research assistant for my former sociology professor, I tutor at a local elementary school, and I am a member of the Phi Theta Kappa National Honor Society.

I have also won a few different awards such as the Excellence in Sociology Award, the Montgomery College Political Science Poster Award, the Woman of Distinction Award, the National Institutes of Health Service Award, and have received an Interculturalist Badge. There were many obstacles I have had to overcome to get to where I am today. In spite of my disability, I am determined and resilient and know that I am capable of achieving any goal I put my mind to.

Star Simmons

CHW Orange County

Cayenne Wellness Center & Children’s Foundation


Sickle Cell Foundation of Orange County

Starlerra (Star) Simmons is a Leader at the junction of Culture and Justice. A lifelong resident and business owner of Orange County, whose roots reside deep in Orange County. Star is an entrepreneur in her own right, which consistently puts her “in the trenches” and arenas that most would circumvent in her professional and private life. Her expertise is focused on the areas of Business and Advocacy. For Star, the sky’s the limit; therefore, there is no limit to life’s possibilities. She encourages and challenges family, friends, and colleagues to push beyond their limitations and rise to new heights.

Star is a mother and mentor to her two adults and has been married for 37 years. As the President and Founder of the Sickle Cell Foundation of Orange County, Star is actively involved in her commitment to her community and takes her role in this area very seriously.

Her Motto: “Live by Design, Not by Diagnosis”. Her Passion: My passion has always been for the heart of mankind. I embrace my gift of compassion and vulnerability to serve others by helping others to help themselves. Her Purpose: To Educate, Equip, and Empower those Living with Sickle Cell Disease to “Live by Design, Not by Diagnosis”.

Carley ¨Elle¨ Cole-Cavins

Sr Digital Marketing Manager

Cayenne Wellness Center & Children’s Foundation

Author, Sickle Cell & T1D Advocate, Podcast Producer

Owner of Cleverly Changing

Elle Cole empowers moms, homeschoolers, and advocates for children with sickle cell disease and type 1 diabetes. She is a mom of twin daughters, one of whom is living with Sickle Cell Disease and Type 1 Diabetes. She is the 2020 Advocating for Another WEGO Health winner. Elle has authored 5 books, but four of them are about sickle cell: A Sickle Cell Coloring Book for Kids, ABCs of Sickle Cell, and The Ultimate Sickle Cell Activity Book, and Aprendiendo Sobre la Enfermedad de Células Falciformes. Feedspot named  the Cleverly Changing Podcast  #3 on the Top 20 Homeschooling Mom Podcasts list. She’s been featured on NPR, ABC 7, BBC World Service Radio, and many podcasts. Learn more about her and the work she does by visiting her parenting blog .

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