Advocacy Academy Accomplish Education pampers dedicated mothers who overcame obstacles

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MERIDEN — As a mother with a son diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, Marta Persia knows how much time a mother dedicates to their child, leaving almost none for themselves. With this in mind, Persia decided to recognize and pamper two mothers who have children diagnosed with ADHD.

She treated the two mothers, Joan Soto Meléndez and Amalia Medina, to a spa day including facials and getting their hair and nails done at Senias Hair Salon, 35 West Main St.

Senia Martinez, owner of the salon, was on board with helping Persia glam up the mothers.

“I, just like these other women, also had to struggle and overcome obstacles to get where I am today,” Martinez said.

Martinez is from New York and when she came to Meriden, her life became difficult. She had to look after her three children while also starting her business.

Astrid Ruisanchez, 52, and Anna Dominguez, 45, market partners for Monat, a company that specializes in premium hair, skincare, and wellness products, did the facials on Medina and Soto. The pair also shared skin care techniques for use at home.

In addition, they received recognition for their leadership and commitment to Advocacy Academy Accomplish Education. Two other women were also recognized by Persia, Wanda Mendez and state Rep. Hilda Santiago.

According to Persia, Santiago is an avid supporter of her organization.

The nonprofit organization was established in 2016 by Persia with the mission to enrich the quality of learning for students with mental health disabilities. Different services include college preparation, support groups, community service, transition preparation and training.

“I have the goal to help families that may not know where to go when they need help for their child,” Persia said.

In 2019, Soto, of Bristol, met Persia after trying to find resources for her son, who was diagnosed with ADHD and trauma due to domestic violence. Her son was in the first grade, and she was concerned that his school wasn’t providing the right resources. According to Soto, the school didn’t want to provide a paraprofessional for him.

“I don’t speak perfect English and I felt as though they took advantage of that,” she said. “Marta really helped and was able to get the school to provide a paraprofessional for him.”

Soto came to the United States mainland eight years ago from San Juan, Puerto Rico. She then had her son, and took care of him while getting her master’s in counselor education with a specialization in clinical professional and rehabilitation counseling. She graduated in 2018.

Soto is constantly researching and educating herself on how to provide help for her son.

“It’s trial and error,” Soto said. “If I notice that one thing isn’t working, then I find something else.”

Now, Joan Soto is a therapist for her company Rumbo Al Bienestar LLC. As a therapist, she works with adults who struggle with mental health, depression, and anxiety.

Amalia Medina, of West Haven, came in contact with Persia in 2007 during their training with the National Alliance of Mental Health (NAMI) in New Haven. The two then started training families who were involved with the Connecticut Department of Children and Families (DCF) on mental health and how to communicate with each other.

Since then, the two have been in contact and now Medina is board president at Advocacy Academy A.E. Medina also has a son with ADHD, which is why she strongly advocates for mental health disability services.

“It’s important to keep providing services for families,” Medina said. “With the pandemic over and the Meriden library opening back up soon, we are hoping to go back to the library to provide in person services.”

Prior to the pandemic, Advocacy Academy A.E. would provide their training and support group at the Meriden Library.

For more information on Advocacy Academy A.E., visit


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