Volume 1 Issue 6
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The Director's Corner

Curb cuts for wheelchairs.  Video relay service for communicating with the Deaf/Hard of Hearing. Captions on television programming.  Kneeling buses.  Lifts for swimming pools.  It’s hard to imagine our lives without these.  There was a time when these were not in our daily lives.  July 26 marks the 25th anniversary of the signing of the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act).    The ADA is a wide-ranging civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on disability.

With specific provisions for employment, communication, transportation, public accommodations and more, the ADA is meant to level the playing field for people with disabilities.  Amendments in 2008 expanded the definition of disability further providing protections for people with disabilities, including those whose disability impairs a major life function.

Now that that I’ve put you to sleep with the legalese gobblygook, suffice it to say, the ADA has changed our lives.  Today, people with disabilities have a better chance to compete with their peers than ever before.  More and more the communities in which we live are recognizing the skills and talents of people with disabilities in schools, public services and workplaces.

So what will you do to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act?  Check out the ADA Legacy Project at http://www.adalegacy.org/.  Learn what’s happening in your community.  Even better – plan your own celebration!!

Carol Ruddell
ASPIRE Project Director

June 15, 2015

In This Issue:

The Director's Corner

ASPIRE Enrollment Update

25 years of the ADA


North Dakota
South Dakota
Formative Evaluation Team

Staff Highlight - Jean Hall

ASPIRE Website

Follow ASPIRE on Facebook

"Include Us in YOUR Newsletter!"

ASPIRE Partners

Contact Us

State Updates:

As ASPIRE Arizona moves into June and our fourth wave, we are happy to announce that 166 youth and families have joined our program with hope that our project will help them become more successful and independent as they move into the future! We are enthusiastic about our case managers, Delsey Benally, in Northern Arizona, and Marianna Marts and Ramona Meda, in Southern Arizona, and the efforts they have made to continue promoting ASPIRE as they prepare to begin recruitment in this upcoming month. An extra special thank you goes to the members of the ASPIRE Arizona tribal workgroup who continue to make progress in developing relationships with Arizona’s sovereign nations. Arizona is also very excited to announce that as our team commences case management, we are now able to refer families to Raising Special Kids and Arizona Bridge to Independent Living for our core innovations. If you have any enrollment questions, please contact us toll free at (844) 260-2890.

ASPIRE Colorado continues to recruit across the state. Our next wave of 200 recruitment letters will be mailed the second week in June.

Our third ASPIRE Advisory Committee Meeting is scheduled to meet on June 18. We are excited to meet with our Stakeholders to discuss case management techniques, outreach efforts and ways to improve services to our Colorado youth with disabilities.

ASPIRE Colorado is in the beginning stages of working with Empowered, for the ASPIRE financial education and capability training intervention, Ability Connections for the ASPIRE benefits counseling intervention, Peak Parent Center for the ASPIRE parent education training intervention and ASPIRE self-determination training for youth intervention.

To learn more, call (303) 866-3364.

June is a busy month for ASPIRE Montana. We are excited to have our third Case Manager, Lenny Brown, join Debi Gilsoul and Kim York in recruitment and enrollment efforts! Lenny has been working on connecting with our partners in Eastern Montana and we are excited to begin enrollment in that area of the state. We are currently enrolling in Missoula, Cascade and Ravalli Counties, and will soon be adding Yellowstone County to the list. To date, Montana has enrolled 16 youth into the study.

The ASPIRE Advisory Committee will be meeting on June 19th, to discuss our recruitment and enrollment efforts and to obtain valuable feedback from them on recruitment and enrollment strategies.

We are also looking forward to our site visit from the Formative Evaluation Team on June 22 -23, who will be meeting with the ASPIRE staff and with ASPIRE Services families to obtain feedback and provide further direction as we continue on. If you would like more information on ASPIRE Montana, please contact us toll free at (844) 442-3167. We look forward to hearing from you!

North Dakota
ASPIRE North Dakota is continuing recruitment efforts; currently, 24 youth are enrolled. Letters were mailed to youth and families on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation recently. A second mailing is planned to eligible youth living in region 2 (Minot), region 4 (Grand Forks) and region 7 (Bismarck) in an effort to connect with families not previously reached through letters and phone calls. Later this summer ASPIRE will continue to recruit from other areas of the state. Recent promotion efforts included conference presentations and displays at the Pathfinder Parent Information Conference in Bismarck as well as the North Dakota Association of Community Provider Conference in Fargo.

In May, formative evaluators from the University of Montana visited, and provided helpful feedback. The evaluators also conducted a focus group with students and families who are receiving ASPIRE services. During the focus group, parents noted they appreciated that case managers “never talk down to you” and enjoy having monthly meetings at new places in the community. This helps youth stay engaged and connects them with community resources and potential job opportunities. Parents who attended a recent Minot parent training also expressed appreciation for the information provided.

While school is out for summer, case managers continue to meet monthly with youth and families receiving ASPIRE services. ASPIRE staff are looking forward to participating in summertime activities with youth. Staff are actively supporting youth and their families in searching for volunteer and paid work opportunities in their communities. Staff are working with schools and other provider agencies to coordinate supports for families. With permision, ASPIRE case managers will share information regarding enrolled youth with coordinating organizations. Staff are busy planning self-determination trainings for youth as well as parent trainings for later this summer. More details will be shared in next month’s newsletter.

Please contact ASPIRE North Dakota for more information, (800) 233-1737.

South Dakota
School is out for the summer which brings a variety of opportunities for youth as they learn more about themselves and ways to occupy their less structured daily routines. For many youth it may mean learning about employment opportunities in their communities. ASPIRE case managers are available to assist youth with learning about these opportunities.

ASPIRE was invited by the Pine Ridge Tribal Vocational Rehabilitation staff to be part of a radio spot on the KILI radio station in Pine Ridge. It was a great opportunity to inform youth and families about what ASPIRE has to offer.

In May, South Dakota ASPIRE held the first Self Determination session for ASPIRE youth in the Sioux Falls area. Based on the responses of the youth it was a success and they are looking forward to attending the next session. Another Self Determination session will be held in early June for ASPIRE youth in Rapid City. These sessions will be repeated in all areas of the state where ASPIRE youth reside. ASPIRE is partnering with South Dakota Parent Connection as they provide parenting sessions on the Pine Ridge Reservation. The Self Determination sessions will be held at the same time and location as the Parent Training sessions.

The South Dakota ASPIRE Advisory Committee met in May. The group was updated about the process that is in place for delivery of the ASPIRE interventions as well as an update regarding enrollment progress. The committee will meet again in August.

Contact us at (800) 224-5336 for information about eligibility for ASPIRE or how you can help promote ASPIRE.

As you may recall, last month two of our four case managers received advanced degrees and accepted new jobs working with people with disabilities. Ryan Rees will join our team as a case manager assigned to youth and families located in Salt Lake City and northern Utah. Ryan’s most recent employment includes that of a youth transition counselor in Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) and an eligibility specialist at the Department of Workforce Services. In his VR role, Ryan received multiple counselor and teamwork awards. Outside of work, Ryan volunteers as a mentor in the Big Brothers Big Sister program -- for the past 14 years. Ryan also participates on a nationally-ranked tennis league team. How’s that for a serve? Game and match!

For this past month, enrollments were down due to the departure of our colleagues. Thanks to their efforts, however, the Utah team has enrolled 68% of their goal (172 of 250 youth)..

For more information visit www.aspirewest.org or call (844) 880-9171 toll free.

ASPIRE Enrollment Update

As of June 15, 2015, ASPIRE has enrolled 761 youth and their families in the ASPIRE study.

Enrollment by State

Arizona .............................................166
North Dakota .....................................24
South Dakota .....................................76

25 years of the Americans with Disabilities Act

To celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the ADA National Network and its ten regional ADA Centers across the United States offer an ADA Anniversary Tool Kit for use by the public and the media through the www.ADAanniversary.org.

ASPIRE Website - www.aspirewest.org
The ASPIRE website is a great place to find resources for youth and their families in your area, as well as contact information for all six of the ASPIRE states, and information about ASPIRE and the PROMISE Initiative. If you received this newsletter from a friend or colleafue and would like to be on our mailing list, click on the "Subscribe" link to sign up for our newsletter.

Staff Highlight - Jean Hall

Jean Hall

Jean P. Hall, PhD is a member of the ASPIRE evaluation team and a person with a disability. She is the director of the Institute for Health and Disability Policy Studies and a research professor at the University of Kansas and the University of Kansas Medical Center. She received her doctorate in Disability Studies and currently teaches a course on Medicare and Medicaid. Jean is particularly interested in understanding the intersection of health and employment for people with disabilities or chronic illnesses. Her work has included a 12-year evaluation of the Kansas Medicaid Buy-In program, recommendations on how to improve the Social Security Disability system to better support work efforts, and a project to understand health care issues encountered by youth with disabilities. Before working at the University, Jean was the program manager of a Center for Independent Living, where she also directed the assistive technology access site.

In her personal life, Jean is the proud mother of 20-year-old triplets, two of whom have disabilities, and all of whom are currently in college. She has personally experienced many of the barriers to education and employment for her kids and is passionate about making meaningful changes to a system that often steers youth with disabilities toward federal assistance and employment that is not meaningful to them. She is thus very excited to be involved in the ASPIRE project. In her spare time, Jean enjoys reading, sports with her kids, and being outdoors.

Jean Hall

Include Us in YOUR Newsletter!

Do you connect with youth and their families through a newsletter, or know of an agency that does? Let us know if you would like information about ASPIRE or PROMISE to include in your newsletter. We will gladly provide you with a brief article and additional information. Simply email us at aspire@aspirewest.org or call 1-844-880-9712.


ASPIRE on Facebook:

For links to articles and information to help youth and families, follow us on Facebook.


ASPIRE Partners

ASPIRE is excited to partner with the following agencies:

If you would like to be included in our next newsletter, email us at aspire@aspirewest.org or call 1-844-880-9172.