Volume 3 Issue 10

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State Updates:

Savannah Savannah has displayed persistence and determination since enrolling in ASPIRE in September, 2015. She has always worked collaboratively with her Case Manager. She is always on time and willing to set and work on her goals. She is able to communicate her desires and wishes effectively and displays a personal charisma. Savannah exudes confidence about her abilities and plans for the future. She was able to talk with her Math teacher about her struggles with her memory, and she even requested tutoring! Together they came up with some solutions to help her achieve better grades. She has decided to apply for vocational rehabilitation to explore her career options.

Savannah shows creativity in searching for new solutions when it comes to improving her grades and making appointment with her Vocational Rehabilitation counselor. On one occasion I coached her and then observed her make a phone call to her VR counselor and then congratulated her on making a step to connect with her VR counselor. She has also started to use her personal planner to write down and track her homework assignments.

Savannah co-teaches a Sunday school class for little children and she helps prepare lessons, and works with the Sunday School team. She has pets at home and it is primarily her responsibility to care for them and her family says she is a great caretaker. She is interested in starting her own pet walking company and or pet shelter in the future.

Savannah has attended two Arizona Youth Leadership Forum events in which she has learned more about leadership and setting goals in the areas of personal development, disability awareness, leadership, and career planning. She also attended the Partners in Care Symposium hosted by Raising Special Kids. She said one important take-away was she will pay closer attention to legislation that may affect herself and other youth with disabilities. She stated that she will become a stronger advocate because of this symposium. She also attended the Governors Youth Leadership Day where hundreds of high school students from across the state met to hear inspiring speakers, attend leadership development workshops, and network with their peers.

Savannah is definitely becoming a strong self-advocate for herself and others!

ASPIRE Colorado contracts with PEAK Parent Center for both ASPIRE Parent and Youth Self-Determination trainings. The PEAK Trainers share stories of ASPIRE youth and families.

Youth Self-Determination Training Two of the youth who have been regularly coming to the ASPIRE Self-Determination trainings have formed a close friendship, and their parents report they have been regularly getting together. One of the moms was talking to a youth trainer, and expressed how happy she is that her son has formed this friendship with another youth at the ASPIRE trainings. In the past, her son did not have many friends and felt isolated because of his disability. Through the ASPIRE trainings, he has made friends, gained more confidence, learned he has a lot to offer the world, and gained more self-confidence.

Parent Education and Training After a training one of the parents approached the Trainer to express her gratitude. The parent was unsure how to talk with her son about several of the topics. The parent felt she learned the tools and how to best approach her son to have the conversation about his disability and transition. Later, the parent reports she uses the tools and has begun to have open discussions with her son. It has been a positive experience that has allowed them both to grow.

Please see www.aspirewest.com, select the Colorado tab to find times and locations for the Parent Education and Training events and Youth Self-Determination events in your area.


Sonja, an ASPIRE Montana parent has something to say to all ASPIRE families:

"My daughter and I recently attended a training put on for ASPIRE families by Summer Red from Rural Dynamics Inc. (RDI). I would highly recommend attending at least one, if not all, of these presentations. Summer is personable and very knowledgeable about the financial matters, which at the training we attended was about credit. We had a lot of fun learning about something that is usually a pretty dry subject. My daughter had no problem absorbing the information as it was presented, and I learned a couple of things I didn’t know as well. Summer provided handouts that are categorized for MyFile, and they will be valuable resources for my daughter later on. We were given numerous opportunities to ask questions and the answers we received were very helpful for my daughter to understand the complex subject. Summer had a fun “quiz game” at the end to test what we learned and my daughter really enjoyed that as well. Dinner and snacks were provided which was a very nice bonus. My daughter and I look forward to attending the remainder of the financial trainings in the future, because we really had a great time, and I highly recommend attending to other families."

"Thank you to ASPIRE and RDI for providing the opportunity for my daughter to learn subjects that could be difficult to learn independently."

Sonja ASPIRE Parent

To learn more about financial education classes offered by ASPIRE in your community, check out www.aspirewest.org.

North Dakota
Recently ASPIRE North Dakota staff attended an ASPIRE training with all ASPIRE staff in Phoenix, AZ. During this training we were able to learn, brainstorm and share successes with our colleagues from across ASPIRE. Zoey Winkler, ASPIRE North Dakota Case Manager, had the opportunity to share the following Shelby’s story.

Savannah Shelby, a parent of an ASPIRE youth, had been working at a fast food restaurant for quite some time and had recently taken on new responsibilities. However, she was not happy at her work place for a number of reasons so she decided to apply elsewhere. After Zoey learned that Shelby had been applying for new jobs she encouraged her to check into services from Vocational Rehabilitation (VR). Shelby was willing to apply for VR services and found out she was eligible.

Last fall Shelby began working with a job coach who assisted her in successfully being hired at a new part time job at a local grocery store. Shelby was able to receive job coaching supports that helped her quickly learn her job. She eventually left her fast food job and was able to increase her hours and earn more money at the grocery store rather than having multiple lower paying jobs.

This summer, Shelby was recognized by her employer for going “above and beyond!” In August, Shelby applied for a full time deli position at the store and was hired! She was very excited because now she has healthcare for herself and her children. She loves her job! While Shelby has been successful with her work, other family members are too! Shelby’s husband found a new job with a retirement plan, and her daughter was hired at a retail store. Seeing that the rest of his family is working hard, the ASPIRE youth is now more interested in getting a job and working like the rest of his family. ASPIRE is excited for this family’s hard work and success to build their financial independence!

ASPIRE North Dakota is scheduling upcoming parent, self-determination and financial literacy trainings. Watch for these dates and plan to attend. As always, please contact ASPIRE North Dakota to learn more or request information. We are happy to meet with you! Please contact ASPIRE North Dakota at (800) 233-1737.

South Dakota
ASPIRE is having a positive impact on youth with disabilities across the six states. In South Dakota, we are continuing to see youth learning about work and participating in a variety of employment opportunities. Youth are realizing how valuable a work experience can be as they transition into the adult world. The data shows that rates of employment are higher for youth attending Self-Determination classes. Additionally, the in-person case management meetings with youth are influencing all of the youth employment outcomes at a positive and significant level. These are exciting findings at this point of the ASPIRE Project.

Specifically for South Dakota as of May 2017, 46% or 30 of the South Dakota ASPIRE youth had been employed at some point since enrollment in the project. Also 20% or 13 of the youth attended Self Determination training sometime between March 2016 andFebruary 2017. South Dakota ASPIRE staff as well as the ASPIRE staff in the six state consortium will continue to help improve the outcomes of the youth in the project as we continue this journey with youth and parents.

Last month, ASPIRE Utah Case Managers introduced a number of volunteer activities for the youth to “give back to the community” -- and to gain useful skills and experience. One of the volunteer events Case Manager, Misty Fielding, organized is to assemble dolls for the Primary Children’s Medical Center in Salt Lake City. Doctors use the dolls to demonstrate to children where their surgery will occur and how it will be performed. Use of the dolls helps children better understand their situation, thereby calming their fears. After using the dolls to explain the surgery, doctors put a small hospital gown (also sewn by volunteers) on the dolls and encourage the kids to draw faces and hair on their dolls. Hundreds of these are donated every year. This is just one way that ASPIRE youth are giving back to our community.

October 15, 2017

In This Issue:

The Director's Corner

North Dakota
South Dakota

ASPIRE Website

Follow ASPIRE on Facebook

"Include Us in YOUR Newsletter!"

ASPIRE Partners

Contact Us

The Director's Corner

Four years! October marks the anniversary of when ASPIRE began in 2013. It is also the third anniversary of the first youth and family enrolling in ASPIRE. A great deal has happened in the last four years! To quickly sum – over 60 staff have been hired across the six states; over 10,000 letters were mailed to recruit and enroll 2051 youth; ASPIRE services have been defined and are implemented consistently by 44 providers; youth are going to work, finishing high school and preparing for post-high school training; parents are understanding their finances; and so much more. Wow!! That’s a lot in four years of a five year project! But wait!

ASPIRE, along with all the PROMISE studies, have been given the opportunity to extend our work for another year. This is dependent on our existing funds, of course. After careful planning, it has been decided that ASPIRE will indeed continue into 2019. While all the details are not complete (and certainly there are lots of contracts to amend!), I’m very optimistic! I believe that making ASPIRE available for even a few extra months of services will assist ASPIRE youth and families, and also strengthen what is being learned in the PROMISE research.

So stay tuned. As more information is available, I will share ASPIRE’s plans. In the meantime, enjoy this newsletter and check out www.aspirewest.org. See the amazing stories of youth and families as they pursue work and education, and become better able to care for their own needs.

Carol Ruddell
ASPIRE Project Director


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.



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

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.