Volume 3 Issue 4

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State Updates:

Arizona Youth and families continue to learn and apply many new skills. Families are attending workshops on parenting and finances. With tax season coming to a close, parents have said how thankful they are to learn about Earned Income Tax Credit and other important programs. Youth have attended workshops and learned how to describe their disabilities and explain their needs. Workshops for both parents and youth are offered all across the state. Be sure to look for these events at http://aspirewest.org/arizona/upcoming-events-arizona

Jennifer Winders, an ASPIRE Colorado Case Manager shares the following story about one of the ASPIRE youth and her family. Parents often struggle to move forward when their children recover from serious health setbacks. In this case, the young lady continues to pursue her dreams as her Mother catches up.

Sandi is a seventeen year old with an Acquired Brain Injury from Encephalitis. Sandi has recovered a great deal, but still struggles with some processing. Sandi no longer has an IEP, and ranks high in her senior class, #3 in fact!! Prior to Sandi's IEP being discontinued, she had to have extra time for tests, assignments and standardized testing. During the times when she was ill, Sandi’s mother was a great advocate for her daughter. Despite Sandi’s progress, her Mother has struggled to move forward in similar fashion. She attended the ASPIRE Parent Training, and acknowledges she needs to let go, but feels it will take some time. This hasn’t stopped Sandi! She has utilized both school and ASPIRE to move forward toward independence. Sandi applied to five colleges and was accepted to all of them. Sandi was even accepted to the college she had always dreamed of attending - BYU Hawaii. Sandi was offered a partial scholarship to two of the five colleges and is now deciding which will be best for her. ASPIRE is now working with Sandi on getting a summer job so she can save money before she starts college in the Fall.

“Daunting” is how ASPIRE Case Manager, Debi Cockrell-Gilsoul, describes her first meeting with Joan and Jen. The first thing Joan (mom) said to her was, “I don’t know how ASPIRE is going to be of any help for us. I already work to provide services for people with disabilities.” At a loss for how to help this mom, Debi had a discussion with her about how they could mutually help each other and together they might find more information and ways to help all people with disabilities.

After additional time spent getting to know one another Debi suggested Joan and Jen check out what services Vocational Rehabilitation offered. The next week Debi received a call from Joan saying that VR informed her Jen did not qualify for services. This contradicted what Debi understood about ASPIRE youth being eligible for VR so she made some calls and confirmed that Jen was indeed eligible. Next, Debi personally stopped by the VR office, left more information about the ASPIRE project, and offered to do a presentation for their office.

Meanwhile, Jen was accepted into VR services and referred to a job agency. That job agency is being paid for by VR and is providing a paid job training experience for Jen in agricultural employment on a farm near Whitefish, Montana. This farm is one of several that provide a twelve-week work program, one day a week. If it is a positive experience for both employee and employer, the 12 weeks can be extended or Jen could go to another farm to work and learn more skills. Jen will learn to feed and groom animals, including horses, pigs, and sheep. Since it’s lambing season there she will be bottle feeding lambs. Jen will be learning a lot about farm work this summer!

North Dakota
Becky Daigneault is the ASPIRE Case Manager for a young man who just turned 16 and this is his story. Tony recently passed his school’s driver education course and will be attending the ‘Behind the Wheel’ driver training this summer, when he obtains his driver’s permit. Recently, he moved from an IEP plan to a 504 plan, because he no longer needs the supports of a special education program. With his 504 plan, the only accommodations he uses are those for a mild to moderate visual impairment in his left eye. He is described as being a leader in all of his classes and a positive role model to his peers.

Although Tony lives in a small town, there are abundant opportunities and resources available. Recently he and his mother met with Vocational Rehabilitation and Job Service to discuss the best option for finding summer employment. The most appropriate service to use is Job Service. Job Service will help to secure employment job at Tony’s preferred business, a local gas station/pizza place. They will meet with the business and support Tony’s wages.

In the past two months, Tony came to his first self-determination training. Other commitments or lack of interest prevented him from going in the past. In the fall, he and his family joined an ASPIRE bowling event held in their community.. In fact, Tony and his mother have also participated in financial education and capability training as well. Tony has made amazing strides this year!

South Dakota
Time flies when you’re making progress! Barry Gravatt, ASPIRE Case Manager shares how one ASPIRE youth stays positive and keeps working toward his goals.

It’s hard to believe that back when South Dakota ASPIRE started doing enrollments this young man was one of the first to sign up, October 2014. Lake was just 16 then. Now he’s 19 and has come a long way in that time. He would be the first to admit that there have been some ups and downs along the way. Even in speaking about those ups and downs Lake never loses his trademark humor and humble personality. He has participated in nearly every Self-Determination Class held in Rapid City. Just by being there, he always makes them fun. When Lake first came to ASPIRE he was struggling in High School despite his Mother’s strong advocacy for special education services. He decided to try Job Corp, started working on his GED and learning a trade. Once again his personality won over all of the staff but it proved to be too big of an adjustment for Lake to make and he moved on.

Lake and his family moved and he tried a different high school. He made some more progress on his GED, and his mother again advocated on his behalf, but the school and the town were not a good match for him. The family moved back to Rapid City, and he enrolled in the Career Learning Center. Since enrolling Lake has finished all but one test on his GED, and continues to work toward completion, setting his sights on the June graduation. He also enrolled in the Department of Labor WIOA Program. Through that program he has participated in a work experience at a computer maintenance business. With his knack for all things mechanical or technical, Lake was soon refurbishing computers for a donation program. Recently he got his driver’s license, and is getting to his classes and activities on his own. It has been a great pleasure seeing all of his successes, and an honor to know someone who can stay so positive even in times of adversity.

Parents also benefit through their participation in ASPIRE interventions. Read how this ASPIRE father who is a refugee is applying his training to benefit others. Dano completed a series of financial education classes, and recently started an Individual Development Account. This matched savings with the Utah Individual Development Account Network will make a difference in his family’s future. He will use these savings to expand his business and improve his family's long-term economic and social opportunities. He has also completed, certifications in food handling, food management, and a "Masters of Business on the Streets." In completing this program, he’s learned about business plans, financial statements, and understanding customer markets.

He then used all of this knowledge to start a non-profit organization, the Spice Kitchen Incubator, in collaboration with other refugees. This program assists refugees with self-sufficiency, independence, education and social events. They now use donations to deliver hygiene products to refugee families, assist with costs associated with dental care, and assist refugees in obtaining driver's licenses.

Participating in ASPIRE workshops has not only changed the life of this one family, but that of many refugees who have settled in Utah.

Staff Highlight - Pablo Flores

Pablo Flores

Pablo is originally from Nebraska and grew up in a small farming community, where there are currently about 6,960 residents. Pablo graduated with his Bachelors of Science in Criminal Justice and will be starting his master program this fall at ASU. Prior to this position, Pablo worked for the Department of Homeland Security and provided case management to undocumented immigrants, and oversaw their immigration court process from beginning to end. During his free time, Pablo competes in obstacle course races, enjoys skiing during the winter and is an avid dog lover.

Pablo Flores
Case Manager

April 15, 2017

In This Issue:

The Director's Corner

North Dakota
South Dakota

Staff Highlight - Pablo Flores

ASPIRE Website

Follow ASPIRE on Facebook

"Include Us in YOUR Newsletter!"

ASPIRE Partners

Contact Us

The Director's Corner

It’s time to plan for summer jobs! Working in the summer is what teenagers do in the summer. It may not be the career they are dreaming of, but it does help them learn responsibility, social skills and some hard skills too! It’s a great time to try out jobs as well, through internships or extended volunteer opportunities. For some youth, they may find there are jobs they don’t want. That’s as important as finding what you want to do.

The ASPIRE staff are busy finding opportunities for summer employment. Staff are working with their local vocational rehabilitation and workforce agencies, local and state government and business networks. Thanks to our many partners who are making jobs available to ASPIRE youth, and working with them to learn about finding and keeping a job. Working together now has long term benefits for the youth and families.

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.

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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.