22nd Annual Family Cafe Goes Virtual Due to COVID-19
Though not surprised, we were all disappointed to hear the official word that Family Cafe will be experienced as a virtual event this year. It may not be the same but will still be wonderful, beneficial, and we will all be safe and well.
Here's the official notification Family Cafe emailed everyone yesterday.
Over the past several weeks, many of you that have been planning on attending The 22nd Annual Family Cafe this June in Orlando have reached out to our office to ask about our plans for the event, given the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. We're sharing this post to provide an update and answer your questions.
The first thing you need to know is that The 22nd Annual Family Cafe will now be a virtual event.
The first and most important concern for The Family Cafe, our Board of Directors, and The Family Cafe Planning Committee has always been the health, safety, and well-being of the people with disabilities and families we serve. When we first began talking about the coronavirus pandemic and how it might impact our event weeks ago, we knew that whatever action we took would be guided by that concern.
Now that The 22nd Annual Family Cafe is less than two months away, it's clear that it won't be safe to gather thousands of attendees together the way we usually do. While the situation in Florida may be improved by June, such a large gathering, especially one with many attendees with disabilities or health care needs that impact their immune systems, will not be possible.
What will a virtual version of The 22nd Annual Family Cafe look like? We're getting to work on that right now, and will provide you with more details once we develop the specifics. For now, there are a few things we can tell you:
First and foremost, we are committed to bringing you as much of the information and resources that you would find at a face-to-face Annual Family Cafe as we possibly can.
That means we will still be printing the program, with descriptions of every breakout session, and contact information for the presenters so you can reach out to them with your questions. Every registered attendee will receive a program in the mail. We are also looking into ways to have presenters share their presentation materials with us, so we can make them available to you electronically.
While specific plans for a live, virtual version of The 22nd Annual Family Cafe are still in the works, we are planning on delivering a number of breakout sessions in an interactive online format. Instead of having some 200+ sessions over two days like we do at the in-person conference, we will likely host about 20 sessions online over the course of two weeks in the first part of June. Stay tuned for details about the agenda and content for that online event!
What about Keynote Speakers and The Governor's Summit on Disabilities? Those will be part of the two-week virtual Annual Family Cafe too, as we're currently in contact with our scheduled speakers and the Governor's office about providing that content.
You also might be wondering about the Exhibit Hall, which usually hosts dozens of vendors, organizations, and agencies. While you won't be able to walk the hall and speak to exhibitors in person, we are working to develop a detailed catalog of our planned 2020 exhibitors, and ways for you to connect with them remotely. We'll let you know more about that aspect of the event soon.
While we certainly understand that our decision to move to a virtual event may come as a disappointment to many of you, please remember that we are choosing this path out of our desire to keep everyone we serve safe and healthy. We will truly miss seeing everyone in Orlando this June, and we'll be counting the days until we can come together again in 2021!
As our plans for our first ever virtual Annual Family Cafe come into focus, we will continue to share updates with you about what to expect. Remember, you can always connect with us online here on Facebook, and on Twitter and Instagram.
If you made a room reservation at the Hyatt Regency, Rosen Centre or Rosen Plaza, don't forget to cancel.
Stay safe, and we'll be in touch again soon!