Volume 2 Issue 10
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The Director's Corner

“Time flies when you’re having fun!” No truer words were ever shared when it comes to ASPIRE. It’s been three years since the Utah State Office of Rehabilitation and the six states received the PROMISE award. First designed our implementation plan, figuring out exactly who would provide which ASPIRE services, and what those services would be. Then we enrolled over 2000 youth and families, meeting with them in all corners of the six states. Since enrollment, the Case Managers continue to listen to families, understand their needs, identify resources and supports, write goals for education, employment and independent living and more. Whew!

Within all this hard work, the ASPIRE team has fun! Just this month, ASPIRE gathered in Denver for our twice yearly training. What does ASPIRE fun look like, you wonder? It sounds like original compositions accompanied by ukuleles. It’s movement in line dancing and racing across the room to ‘This or That’. It’s creative coloring to keep our own fidgets in check. Yes, ASPIRE staff work very hard with youth and families. We strive to improve our own knowledge and skills to better serve our youth and families, to make a difference in their futures. And we have fun as well.

Carol Ruddell
ASPIRE Project Director


October 15, 2016

In This Issue:

The Director's Corner

North Dakota
South Dakota

Formative Evaluation Team

Staff Highlight - Latitia Harry

ASPIRE Website

Follow ASPIRE on Facebook

"Include Us in YOUR Newsletter!"

ASPIRE Partners

Contact Us

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 some 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.


Formative Evaluation Team

October 3, 2016, marked the two year anniversary of the first ASPIRE enrollment. For the past six months, the evaluation team has talked about the importance of the 12-month survey. Now, it is time to start thinking about the 24-month survey as well. Because we enrolled youth in ASPIRE over an 18 month period, the data collection windows for the 12- and 24-month surveys overlap. For the 12 month survey, data collection continues through April, 2017 and for the 24-month survey, data collection continues through April, 2018. The 24-month survey is administered just like the 12-month survey. Case managers are responsible for asking ASPIRE parents or guardians to complete the 24-month parent/guardian survey. Lighthouse Research is responsible for calling all enrolled youth to complete the youth 24-month survey. Youth who complete surveys will receive a $30.00 gift card in the mail. Data collection is an important part of ASPIRE. Thank you for your continued support in this effort!.


Staff Highlight - Latitia Harry

Tisha Harry

Latitia “Tisha” Harry is an ASPIRE Case Manager located in Billings, Montana. She was raised in Montana but has spent the last 20 years exploring the U.S. as an Active Duty Military Spouse. Tisha has a degree in Psychology and has experience in mental health recovery education, Adult Protective Services case management and abuse/neglect investigations for venerable adults and children. After her husband’s recent retirement from the military, Tisha and her husband moved back to Montana and have just begun the process of building a new home. Tisha began her employment with ASPIRE in February 2016.

Tisha and her husband have two grown daughters, a wonderful son-in-law… and their first grandchild is on the way! Tisha enjoys most outdoor activities, biblical studies, and learning about western civilization. In addition, Tisha recently enrolled in college to pursue her degree in Divinity.

Latitia "Tisha" Harry
Case Manager




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 colleague and would like to be on our mailing list, click on the "Subscribe" link to sign up for our newsletter.

You can also view ASPIRE related events in your state by going to your state page, then clicking on the upcoming events link on the menu.

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:

ASPIRE Partners: Utah State Office of Rehabilitation, Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, and the Office of Public Instruction, Colorado Office of Community Access and Independence, Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, South Dakota Black Hills Special Services Cooperative, North Dakota Center for persons with Disabilities at Minot State University, Arizona Governor's Office for Children, Youth and Families

State Updates:

Arizona ASPIRE is very excited to welcome aboard our newest partner organization, the University of Arizona, 4-H Cooperative Extension. The 4-H Cooperative Extension will provide self-determination training to youth across the state of Arizona. They are a youth organization offering opportunities to develop leadership, responsibility, citizenship, and other life skills. You can visit their website to learn more about what they have to offer at http://extension.arizona.edu/4h/. More information to come on upcoming self-determination workshops!

Are you curious about how Arizona ASPIRE Case Managers are connecting with their youth and families? Here’s what our youth and families are saying:

“My Case Manager keeps in contact by sending flyers, texts, and e-mails.”

“I love having another set of eyes on progress and plans for my daughter. My Case Manager’s suggestions, referrals to other activities, and notes on our conversations have really been a big help. I feel like we have a ‘partner' who is there to help us on this path.”

“My case manager makes an effort to meet where it’s convenient for our family.” “The futures is a bright one for my boy!! Thank you for all your support, dedication and passion for what you do. It shines through!!!

“It’s been very educational for me. She’s explained a lot to me. I want to learn more to see what’s out there for her.”

“Now that I’m in ASPIRE I have more confidence in what I can do.”

Thank you ASPIRE Youth and Families for your on-going support! Don’t forget to check out the Arizona page at www.aspirewest.org. You’ll find Upcoming Events for additional workshops/trainings in your area, or you can call our toll free line at (866)260-2890 to learn more.

ASPIRE Colorado continues to assist youth and families in increasing education and employment success. Frank Carcellero, a Case Manager serving northeastern Colorado, shares the following story.

Many of the summer activities focused on-hands on activities in a work environment, as opposed to job seeking skills activities. Two of the most successful activities involved being around animals.

One group of ASPIRE youth visited Colorado Horse Therapy. They are an organization that specializes in psychotherapy using horses (not to be confused with equine therapy). The individual that runs the organization has been doing it for about twenty years and actually has a background in rehabilitation counseling. Many of the youth got to experience and overcome being around animals that are very large and scary for some individuals. Everyone helped a little bit on the ranch, and all of the youth and families said they enjoyed it very much.

Another summer activity included volunteering at the Humane Society. A tour of the facility helped everyone understand the daily work of the Humane Society. It is expanding to become a full service veterinary clinic, available to the public. When first arriving, many animals are feral and nervous with people. Everyone spent time holding and petting the cats to help them socialize and become more comfortable around people.

ASPIRE Montana Case Manager, Kim York, shares the words of a 15-year old youth with whom she works.

“Before ASPIRE I was getting straight F’s in school. I didn’t want to attend school because of my anxiety. I felt like I didn’t belong. I only kind of knew how to advocate for myself. Teachers would push me too hard and I would feel overwhelmed and shutdown. This caused me to miss more and more school.

When ASPIRE started, Kim listened to me and I felt understood. We talked about what worked for me and what didn’t. I only had a 504 Plan for my disability but Kim saw that I needed more and she helped my Mom request an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) assessment to determine what I was good at and why I was struggling in academics.

The assessment showed that I am smart but have a slow information processing struggle. When I got to high school the teachers got involved and put the right supports in place. I now have a transition IEP that helps me and it has transition goals. I have straight A’s so far this year and my attendance is almost perfect. I have been connected to the local Independent Living Center and have worked for one of their programs. As a result, I have been asked to be a youth leader for their youth activities. I have had a paid work experience and am working with a job coach through Vocational Rehabilitation.

Now I have confidence in myself and I think I am pretty amazing! If it wasn’t for Kim and ASPIRE, I wouldn’t be where I am today!”

North Dakota
ASPIRE North Dakota youth are back in school. Some have transitioned from middle to high school, and are getting used to the new environment, staff, and friends. As an alternative delivery of interventions, ASPIRE case managers have provided youth with strategies and brochures from www.I’mdetermined.org in order to prepare them for, and be more involved in their IEP meetings this year.

ASPIRE North Dakota would like to introduce Tracy Diefenbach as the new self-determination trainer. She will be co-teaching with Becky Daigneault, ASPIRE Case Manager and newly designated self-determination trainer. The 2016-2017 Self-Determination and Parent Trainings have been scheduled, and will be held in Minot, Fargo, Bismarck, Grafton/Grand Forks, Fargo, and Belcourt. Youth and parents on the Turtle Mountain reservation (Belcourt area) had their first Self-Determination and Parent training in September.

ASPIRE North Dakota contracts with the Independent Living Centers across the state to provide Financial Education and Capability Training to parents and youth. They have all received the training materials for each family and have started the process of introducing themselves and scheduling initial meetings.

Please contact ASPIRE North Dakota at (800) 233-1737, to learn more, request information or schedule a meeting. We are happy to meet with you!

South Dakota
ASPIRE South Dakota youth continue to work on goals related to employment, education and independent living. Each ASPIRE youth is so unique with their own interests, talents and abilities. Here is a list of some of the current goals being worked on.

  • Volunteer once a month
  • Get and submit job applications
  • Pass all their classes this semester
  • Enroll in Project Skills
  • Begin working a Project Skills job or other paid work experience
  • Get a photo ID
  • Learn Mom and Dad’s phone numbers
  • Learn how to use the microwave
  • Complete Phase 1 in their treatment program
  • Complete five college scholarship applications
  • Visit a college campus
  • Lose weight and get in better shape
  • Complete job shadowing
  • Save money to buy a car
  • Tour a welding program
  • Obtain drivers permit
  • Pay off a car loan
  • Attend a Self Determination Class
  • Complete application for the 2017 Youth Leadership Forum
  • Attend a Career Camp
  • Pass drivers exam
  • Enroll with Vocational Rehabilitation
  • Complete GED
  • Complete Hunter Safety Course
  • Apply for Big Brother Mentor Program
  • Improve daily hygiene habits
  • Attend 2 social activities with mentor or case manager
  • Meet with a Benefits Specialist

ASPIRE South Dakota youth are certainly goal-oriented and working to achieve their dreams!

ASPIRE Utah team held its first ever Open House, hosted at the Utah Independent Living Center in the Salt Lake valley. All of the ASPIRE intervention providers were on hand to introduce their services and consult one-on-one with parents and youth. A quarter of all of the ASPIRE youth and their families from Salt Lake County joined their case managers for dinner, photos and fun conversations. Due to high interest and good company, the one hour event extended for more than an hour afterwards. By the end of the evening, nearly every family signed up for future trainings with the Utah Parent Center and/or Fair Credit Foundation. Such success speaks to the caliber of our case managers and ASPIRE contractors. Thanks everyone!

Be a part of the ASPIRE Newsletter

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