Volume 2 Issue 7
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The Director's Corner

Summer is here and ASPIRE hasn’t slowed down on bit! In addition to a review by the US Department of Education, ASPIRE is preparing for a fall visit by the national evaluation team, MPR (Mathematica Policy Research). MPR will be conducting in-person visits as well as interviewing ASPIRE staff and partners. They will also spend time with the ASPIRE youth and families to learn about their experience in ASPIRE. The ASPIRE Formative Evaluation will be finishing their site visits in the coming month as well.

Just 26 months remain to serve ASPIRE youth and their families. We all feel an urgency to be sure youth and families are connected to needed services, and have the knowledge and skills for both today and the future. ASPIRE staff are busy meeting with the families, identifying needs and supporting them. ASPIRE is making a difference in people’s lives. Some changes seem monumental – a youth returns to school after dropping out three years ago! Some changes are less epic on the surface, but just as impactful to their future – a youth can describe his disability.

The ASPIRE Staff and providers are very skilled at helping youth and families lead more independent lives and pursue education and work. Be sure to follow the ASPIRE website at www.aspirewest.org and look for events in your area.

Carol Ruddell
ASPIRE Project Director


July 15, 2016

In This Issue:

The Director's Corner

North Dakota
South Dakota

Staff Highlight - Zoeann Winkler
Staff Highlight - Misty Fielding

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.


Staff Highlight - Zoeann Winkler

Zoey Winkler

Zoey Winkler is one of the ASPIRE Case Managers located in Minot, North Dakota. She graduated from Minot State University with degrees in Addiction Studies and Criminal Justice. After graduation she moved to Illinois where she worked as an adult probation officer for several years. After moving back to North Dakota she was a Program Manager at juvenile residential treatment facility for 13 years before becoming an employee for the North Dakota Center for Persons with Disabilities (NDCPD) as an ASPIRE case manager in January of 2014.

Zoey enjoys trying out new recipes and foods, reading, attempting to keep her plants alive year round and training for half marathons with her two dogs. Zoey and her husband have a son and a daughter who are both in middle school.

Zoeann Winkler
Case Manager


Staff Highlight - Misty Fielding

Misty FieldingMisty has been with the ASPIRE Utah project from the beginning. She brings with her a Bachelor’s degree from Southern Utah University. She has worked for the State of Utah for 15 years in the Juvenile Justice Service and Juvenile Court.

Misty is married with one child. She enjoys spending time with her family and roller skating.


Misty Fielding
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:

The month of July will be a hot one in Arizona. Not just hot from our blazing summer heat, but hot because ASPIRE Case Managers are busy all over the state working with youth during their summer break from school. Case Managers are helping youth develop goals as they transition to another school year, and also as they transition into their future plans. Some exciting news to share comes from the families themselves and the excitement they experience as they become empowered to make life decisions with guidance from our Case Managers.

August will not only be back to school for our youth, but we are also excited for the annual Transition Conference hosted by the Arizona Department of Education, Exceptional Student Services. This summer Case Managers worked with ASPIRE youth and families to ensure they completed scholarship applications to attend the conference. We are excited to say that over half of the youth/families attending will be ASPIRE families!

Summer is an exciting time for ASPIRE Colorado youth and families. From job clubs to career road trips, Case Managers have something for everyone!

Recently, Case Managers have begun submitting stories to share in our monthly ASPIRE newsletter and with our federal partners. Here are some excerpts to highlight what’s happened so far this summer.

“Ten of my youth have signed up for the Governor's Summer Job Hunt, meaning they will have part time summer employment.”

“One youth really wanted to work. We discussed pros of having a job and the benefits of work. I set up an interview for a position at a Mexican restaurant. He was offered a full time position and has accepted!”

“I have a youth who is terrified of riding the bus due to her anxiety with strangers. I rode the bus with her for the first day of her weeklong job orientation. She did an excellent job and she was confident enough to ride the bus the remainder of her weeklong orientation. It wasn’t an easy route, with three bus transfers and a light rail transfer, and she did it!”

Summer is upon us, and July stands before us in patriotic fashion and as a celebratory reminder that we have just reached the halfway point on our journey through the year 2016. In June, Montana executed its final set of contracts for Benefits Counseling services. These include: MSU-Billings (Center for Inclusive Education) in Billings, North Central Independent Living Services in Great Falls, Montana Independent Living Project in Butte and Summit Independent Living Center in Missoula. Each of these agencies has Certified Work Incentives Counselors (CWICs) who will be following the WIPA model of Benefits Counseling to complete a benefits analysis for our ASPIRE Services families. This is very important as families consider employment options or job changes. ASPIRE Montana Staff received training from these organizations and are prepared to begin referrals for families. CWICs serve an important role in helping families to understand how the effects change in finances or income could affect their benefits. Armed with this information, families can make an informed employment decision.

Some ASPIRE Montana youth will be attending summer camps, such as the Montana Youth Leadership Forum camp held at Carroll College in Helena later this month, or the Movin’ On in Montana camp at the University of Montana in Missoula. Other youth are taking part in job shadowing and volunteer opportunities. Many are also taking advantage of the intervention trainings being offered to ASPIRE Montana youth. Whatever they are doing one thing is for sure, they are on the move, and we are proud to be traveling the same highway, offering a guiding hand to help them along their journey through the year 2016…and beyond.

North Dakota
On May 18 and 19th, ASPIRE North Dakota sponsored a two-day “Four Cornerstones of Financial Literacy” train the trainer, presentation for staff from the Independent Living (IL) Centers and other state partners to learn strategies to provide Financial Education and Capability training to ASPIRE families. It was a successful training and case managers are now working to connect youth and their families with this important financial training. The IL Centers will be meeting with ASPIRE families and youth to provide individual financial coaching and group financial education.

We are excited summer is here, to allow more flexibility with case management activities! We have been able to support several youth to attend camps this summer, helping them gain independence and be more self-determined. Several youth are attending camps such as the Anne Carlsen Center Techno Camp at Camp Grassick a camp for youth with disabilities and a church camp! Still more ASPIRE North Dakota youth are working and volunteering this summer, along with participating in a variety of recreational and leisure activities to develop greater social skills.

Several ASPIRE North Dakota youth turned 18 this month! To prepare for this important transition ASPIRE North Dakota has used the Family Voices Guide To Transition chart www.familyvoices.org Parent are also using resources from training sessions they attended by Pathfinders Parent Center. Discussion topics for some youth turning 18 have included SSI age 18 redetermination, registering to vote, types of guardianship, and registering for the “draft” selective services.

Case Managers and youth and families continue to create SMART goals related to education and career exploration, along with many independent living skills such as driver’s education, cooking, organizational skills, personal hygiene, and learning how to enter adult medicine. ASPIRE North Dakota staff are organizing a schedule for future parent and youth self-determination trainings in North Dakota communities. The trainings will be held in Minot, Bismarck, Fargo, Grafton, and Belcourt.

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

South Dakota
The Transition Services Liaison Project staff sponsored the annual Youth Leadership Forum in Aberdeen, South Dakota during the week of June 6-9. The event is held on the campus of Northern State University providing the youth delegates with a flavor for post-secondary life. The Youth Leadership Forum enables youth who have a disability to learn from each other, and from adults with disabilities who are recognized leaders and role models. Students learn more about their own disability and others’ disabilities, analyze their own strengths and weaknesses, make decisions, and learn organizational skills, leadership styles, the legislative process and disability laws, as well as how to influence others, etiquette, and much more.

ASPIRE South Dakota staff were able to participate and observe during one of the days of the event. It is a great experience for the youth who come from all parts of the state. It allows them to be part of a group of youth who all have some type of disability. It is wonderful to see youth leaders emerge from the group, see the smiles and hear the laughter. One youth was overheard saying, “This is going to be the best week of my life.”

For more information about Youth Leadership Forum and other youth transition events and transition resources go to the South Dakota Transition Services Project website at www.tslp.org.

Exciting Happenings in Utah! One Case Manager reports working with a 15-year old youth who lives with high anxiety. “When we met this past spring, he told me he really wanted to find a job this summer. We decided to look into jobs he could do as a 15 year old. Becoming a lifeguard was one of his options, and after much discussion, he decided this was something he wanted to try. In order to become a lifeguard he was required to pass a swimming test. He was very anxious about this and ended up not passing the test. He became very upset about not passing, especially because he had recently also tried out for the high school soccer team and did not make the cut.”

“His Mom called me that day, and said she was very worried about him because he kept saying he wanted to kill himself. We immediately called the crisis line at the local mental health agency. Mom speaks English as a second language, but often needs assistance with translation so we decided to try a three way call (so I could interpret over the phone). Fortunately, he had been a client in the past, and we were able to set up an appointment for him to meet with the therapist very quickly.”

Now flash forward a couple of months, the youth continues to go to therapy on a weekly basis and his coping skills have increased substantially for his anxiety. He was also referred to an employment specialist at the same mental health agency, and he now has a part-time job at a restaurant washing dishes and busing tables. He is working with a job coach for now until he learns the job. And he is putting the money he earns towards paying to play for a soccer club, because he just made the team!!

The ASPIRE Utah Case Manager really persisted and found services and supports for the young man to be successful!

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.