Volume 2 Issue 9
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The Director's Corner

More than 4,300 athletes from 159 nations are competing right now in the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio. During the Opening Ceremony on September 7, Sir Phillip Craven, the President of the International Paralympic Committee addressed the packed Maracana stadium. He challenged the athletes with the following statements:

“The Rio 2016 Paralympic Games will bring a new perspective to everyone in this country by showing that the human spirit knows no limits…. Over the next 12 days, through the performances of paralympians, you will see the true meaning of sport and the true definition of ability…. They will surprise you, inspire and excite you, but most of all they will change you.”

As I learn more about our ASPIRE youth and their families, the words, “Inspire”, “Excite” and “Change” definitely come to mind. ASPIRE youth are working, becoming self-advocates and challenging what others think when they hear the word disability. Parents are moving past their fears and seeing the possibilities of the future. Like the Paralympic Games, ASPIRE is about abilities and potential. ASPIRE will continue to work with youth and families to recognize their potential and focus on what can be done both now and in the future.

Carol Ruddell
ASPIRE Project Director


September 15, 2016

In This Issue:

The Director's Corner

North Dakota
South Dakota

Staff Highlight - Jacob Carpenter

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 - Jacob Carpenter

Kim Howard

Jacob Carpenter is a native of the Western Slope of Colorado who has roots going back generations from the Telluride area to Mesa, Colorado. Graduating from Colorado Mesa University in 2008 he proceeded to teach parenting classes to fathers, and even started a class in the Mesa County Jail for incarcerated dads. From there he moved into the field of mental health where he case managed a caseload of adults chronic mentally illness who were engaged in regular psychiatric care. From there he was blessed with employment at the ASPIRE project, a calling that really inspires him as he gets to help create positive change in the lives of others.

Jacob is happily married to a wonderful woman who is pursuing a career in the medical field and they have two wonderful children under the age of 8. A very feisty little girl that loves rock climbing and gymnastics and a little boy that is obsessed with trains, all things mechanical, and bacon. Jacob is an avid outdoorsman and when not at work you can find him, either laboring on his small farm or dragging his wife and kids on adventures throughout Western Colorado and Eastern Utah.

Jacob Carpenter
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:

August was an exciting time for 42 ASPIRE youth and their families who attended the 16th Annual Transition Conference held by the Arizona Department of Education. During this conference they experienced two and half days of workshops related to “Trending in Transition: Education, Engagement, Employment”. ASPIRE Arizona hopes to have even more youth and families in attendance next year.

September is another busy month for the Case Managers and ASPIRE Youth and their families! Shelley Baudean, ASPIRE Arizona Case Manager, will be taking a group of ASPIRE youth and their families to tour the Grand Canyon University on October 11th (10-12pm). If you are an ASPIRE youth and family, and interested in getting a feel of what a college campus is like RSVP with Shelley Baudean by e-mail shelley.baudean@azed.gov or phone (602)501-8892 before September 26th.

We have many more upcoming events/conferences, workshops, and trainings!!! Check them out online at www.aspirewest.org (Arizona) or call us on our toll free line at (866)260-2890.

ASPIRE Colorado recently completed the summer activities and job club with ASPIRE youth. It was a huge success! Youth and Families participated in many unique experiences led by Case Managers throughout the state. Activities ranged from equestrian therapy to volunteering at a local animal shelter, practicing resumes and learning how to speak up for themselves.

Aaron Kyser, Case Manager in the Denver area shares his experience.

“We met at the Aurora Animal Shelter for this month's job club. There were five ASPIRE youth who attended, one parent and myself. We spent 4 hours at the shelter, participating in tasks ranging from cleaning kennels, to animal enrichment, to filling dog treats with peanut butter and passing them out. The youth enjoyed the experience, and report that they would like to do it again”.

Case Managers are using lessons learned, from this summer’s experiences plan additional meaningful experiences, both in the coming year and next summer.

A “turn around moment” and a youth’s awesome contribution to ASPIRE Montana! Tisha Harry, ASPIRE Montana Case Manager in eastern Montana shares the following experience.

“I can’t. I have a bad memory”, “I can’t. No one will care”, “I can’t. It won’t matter”. These were the most frequent responses to adorn the lips of a 14 year old youth with ADHD each time I asked him about developing in a SMART goal, and this month’s meeting was no exception.

One of the youth’s on-going SMART goals is to review a folder from his MyFile. During this month’s meeting, we planned to review the “personal” folder. This led to discussing a potential SMART goal for the youth to memorize his Social Security Number. However, I heard the all too familiar “I can’t. I have a bad memory”.

After reminding him that he had already memorized his mom’s phone number, we discussed why memorizing his Social Security Number is a very important step in becoming independent. While no one can make him do this, it was apparent he didn’t want to. I turned to his mother to schedule our next meeting.

Suddenly the youth spoke up! He said, “Have you ever watched Ted X?” After admitting that I had not, I found the Ted Talks video online about the gentleman in a wheel chair named Sean Stephenson. Sean was giving an inspirational speech called, “The Prison of your Mind”. He said, “Lesson number one: Never believe a prediction that doesn’t empower you.” He went on to explain that these predictions can come from people around you or they can come from yourself.

I turned to the youth and said, “You know, when you say “I can’t”, you are making a prediction about yourself and it’s not an empowering one.” The youth nodded his head. I asked him what he was going to do about it. He said, “I’m going to start doing what the man says.” I asked once again if he wanted to try and memorize his Social Security number… and with more enthusiasm than he’s ever had before, “Yea, sure!”

In the weeks that followed we developed a general SMART goal to watch inspirational videos. Thanks to this young man’s enthusiasm, other ASPIRE youth are now also getting excited to watch inspirational videos too.

North Dakota
The temperatures have yet to cool down in North Dakota; but the signs of Fall are all around us in the fading daylight hours, harvesting of crops and the changing colors of Fall foliage. This leads ASPIRE Case Managers to begin thinking of planning for meetings with educational staff. School is well underway in North Dakota. Case managers are assisting youth and their parents to participate more effectively in the IEP process. Students are encouraged to find various ways to increase how they can be more self-determined. ASPIRE youth are increasing their self-advocacy skills in so many ways! They are expressing how they learn best, and inviting additional members to attend their IEP Teams, such as Vocational Rehabilitation counselors, Developmental Disability Program Managers and ASPIRE case managers. ASPIRE youth are practicing goal setting and understanding their disabilities. They are really becoming self-determined!

North Dakota ASPIRE youth range from eighth graders through seniors in high school this year. Some youth who will be graduating seniors and others will be transitioning to high school next year. With youth at various stages of change, the ASPIRE Case Managers are busy recommending trainings, projects, referral sources, and promoting ASPIRE interventions to guide them and their families along their chosen paths. North Dakota ASPIRE families will be attending financial and employment trainings this fall. If families do not attend the trainings case managers are prepared to review the training in other forms. It is exciting to see our families’ successes and assist them to find resources as they live through difficult times.

Case Managers are also going through their own transitions! One ASPIRE North Dakota Case Manager is also a wedding planner, and supervisor of mentors to students at Minot State University. Another Case Manager is teaching a college course, while still another is taking her first college course in over 20 years, Disability Studies. From studying, to preparing class room materials, to determining location and the perfect wedding dress ASPIRE Case Managers are continuously supporting others and improving themselves. Finally, ASPIRE Self-Determination trainings will be now taught by Case Manager, Becky, and a new staff member, Tracy. They are excited to work with each and every one of the North Dakota ASPIRE youth.

South Dakota
Linda Schoon, Case Manager, shares a story of a youth with whom she’s worked since December, 2014 when the youth enrolled in ASPIRE.

Ari has achieved many goals since enrolling in ASPIRE. Two of her goals included graduating from high school and getting a job. She applied for Vocational Rehabilitation services and started working with a counselor. She was able to identify her interests, participate in pre-employment job skills training, and started a part time job at Mini Critters. Because the job did not offer enough hours, she searched out other areas of interest and was hired as a cashier at a local grocery store. Ari worked 24 hours a week during the summer through Project Skills. She enjoys being around people and was thrilled to get a weekly paycheck.

Now that Ari graduated and summer is over, she started Project Search in a hospital setting. Project Search is an internship program that places students in real world situations where they learn all aspects of gaining and maintaining a job. It’s an opportunity for youth to explore careers and develop transferable job skills.

Since Ari turned 18, she is learning the responsibilities of being an adult. With the help of her parent, Ari applied for SSI Age 18 Redetermination which was a big accomplishment.

Ari is a delight to work with and is always on time, has great manners, and is determined to be successful. Linda says she can always count on her to attend any ASPIRE trainings. She is expecting many more successes for Ari over the next 2 years.

Case Managers are really instrumental in a youth’s success. After more than a year of perseverance and encouragement by the Case Manager, a young man finally applied for Vocational Rehabilitation. Right away, he began attending classes to learn skills to secure and maintain employment. Each month, the Case Manager discussed the classes and reviewed with the youth what he learned. One of the classes the youth attended was, "Disclosing your Disability to an Employer.”

One day, after leaving the Vocational Rehabilitation class, the young man and his father went to the local Library, where a hiring fair was happening. The young man interviewed for a position. One of the first things he told the hiring personnel was that he has autism. The interviewer did not blink an eye. Included in the interview were some 'What would you do in this situation' questions. The father who was within hearing distance reported that his son’s answers were perfect! The interviewer was duly impressed and said his company would be in touch with him.

The young man was most proud of his ability to interview and disclose his disability. His Father was very proud of his son’s ability and confidence to seek employment. In time, little by little, the lives of ASPIRE youth and their families are changing.

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.