Volume 3 Issue 6

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State Updates:

ASPIRE Arizona is heating up for the summer! In May and June, the ASPIRE Team has traveled the state for Intervention One-Stops—as far north as Kayenta, and south to Sierra Vista and Yuma. In July, ASPIRE Arizona is hosting an ASPIRE Career Expo in Phoenix. The Expo will include interview workshop and mock interviews, guest speakers to talk about jobs, services providers such as Vocational Rehabilitation and a workshop by Raising Special Kids. This Expo will be Saturday, July 29th, 9:30-3:00 at 3300 N. Central Ave, Phoenix AZ 85012. Contact us if you would like to attend!

Case Manager Shelley Baudean has moved to a new position as the ASPIRE Arizona Site Coordinator. She is very excited to work with ASPIRE in a new capacity! She shares the following story about one of the teens she has worked with.

Jytallia Jytallia recently graduated from high school and will attend Phoenix College in the fall, with the goal to complete an Associate’s degree in Music Business. Her singing talent is so amazing that she was invited to sing at her graduation, and also received six awards in choir. While in ASPIRE, Jytallia got connected to Vocational Rehabilitation. VR will be assisting with college in August, but they are also helping her with summer employment. In addition, Jytallia recently passed her driving permit test, and is excited to get on the road! I am so proud of all that Jytallia has accomplished and know she will continue to do incredible things.

Summer is an exciting time for ASPIRE Colorado. Colorado youth are graduating from high school, using the summer months to volunteer and learn job skills, starting their first jobs or continuing on their career pathway.

Becky Kinyon, ASPIRE Case Manager, recognizes a few of the youth in Adams County and their achievement this month.

Three youth are graduating from high school this spring! One youth is attending Emily Griffith Technical College, majoring in mechanics. The other two will be attending the transition programs in their local school districts.

Another youth has been very adamant, that she was not going to work over the summer. She told me, on several occasions, that either her mom did not want her to get a job, or she was going to be too busy with her friends to work. Through ASPIRE interventions and encouragement from case management activities; she applied for and accepted a position as admissions agent at Elitches Gardens, a local theme park. She has effortlessly learned the Park’s computer system, and is enjoying her position. Her goal now is to become the Employee of the Month!

While we are celebrating this new job with her, she’s set her goals even higher. She’s applied for a second job at ACE Hardware and has an interview this week. She plans to work the weekends at Elitches and during the week at ACE. She has shown so much personal growth this year, and it is shining through by her decisions to be an active employee.

Mary Peters, an ASPIRE Montana parent has taken the time to write a letter to ASPIRE. She notes what ASPIRE has meant to her and her son.

“As a parent of a child with disabilities I have always strived to learn and develop a working support system for my son and me. I just wanted to let you know how valuable Kim (Case Manager) and ASPIRE Montana has been to us.

I have learned so much in the short time I have worked with Kim I just cannot express how much of a joy and privilege it has been. For instance, just a short time ago we had an IEP/Transition meeting for my son. Thinking I knew a lot I wasn’t too worried about going in and doing the same thing as previous years and just get it done. Wow!! Was I ever surprised, Kim met with me before the meeting and explained to me some of the stuff that should be in his paperwork and all the services that he qualifies for, the amount of knowledge and list of services was astounding. After our meeting, we went to his IEP/Transition meeting and for the first time ever I felt in control and had a knowledgeable working plan in mind for what I wanted for my son. It was one of the most amazing feelings ever.

I left the school that day with a workable plan for my son that will follow him throughout the rest of his school year and into his adulthood. We were even able to get a head start on what he will need for independent living as an adult and future employment strategies. This was just one of the many ways she has helped us.

It has made both my son and I more at ease with the changes ahead of us and we will be forever grateful for Kim and the help that Aspire Montana has given us. I truly wish I had the use of this program when my older kids were in school and will use what I have learned for the remainder of my children who are still in school. It has been a wonderful learning experience and I feel like a stronger more informed parent because of it.

Again, thank you for the opportunity to work with Kim and the ASPIRE Montana program and I wish that all the parents had the opportunity to learn and work with such a wonderful service!”

North Dakota
This summer, ASPIRE North Dakota is focusing on creative ways to deliver services to families across the state, especially the financial capability trainings. Case Managers have worked with financial capability trainers to plan fun and interactive ways to learn! In fact, families and youth are having combined trainings with time for the youth to jump at a trampoline park or to go swimming. ASPIRE North Dakota is also offering separate trainings for parents and youth in order share the information in ways that are most helpful. There are currently five scheduled training dates for the months of June and July. We are also excited that several families have completed the full six hours of financial capability training for the year!

Case Managers are working with youth and recent graduates on transitioning from high school to post-secondary education opportunities. Case Managers and ASPIRE enrollees are attending college campus tours and meeting with disability service offices to plan for accommodations needed to help them succeed in college.

North Dakota youth are preparing for or obtaining job opportunities this summer. Case Managers have helped by connecting with schools and local agencies, brainstormed with youth and families regarding places of interest, and worked on soft skills training to prepare youth for employment. Youth are taking advantage of work experiences offered by schools and Vocational Rehabilitation, Job Services of North Dakota and finding available positions in the community.

Several youth are planning to get their driver’s permit or license this summer. After completing driver’s education one youth is more confident that he will pass the exam for his permit. Another youth plans to spend time driving this summer, so he can adequately prepare for his future driving test.

South Dakota
South Dakota ASPIRE has been busy celebrating the graduation season with several of our families as well as taking the ASPIRE interventions on the road.

This spring we have nine ASPIRE students graduating high school, three of those are already enrolled to attend post-secondary education. One ASPIRE student graduated from the Project Search Program. The Project SEARCH High School Transition Program is a business led, one year school-to-work program that takes place entirely at the workplace. It utilizes a combination of classroom instruction, career exploration, and hands-on training through worksite rotations. She will then be going into full time competitive employment.

ASPIRE staff hit the road bringing the ASPIRE Parent Training Interventions to our families at times and locations that were most convenient for them. Case Manager Barry Gravatt and Lori Larsen of The Parent Connection traveled to several communities on the Oglala Lakota Nation. One on one training sessions were provided on subjects such as guardianship, Home and Community Based Waiver Programs, Family Support, Person Centered Transition Assessment, and other topics that were specific to those families. We are looking forward to making trips to other communities throughout the state in an effort to bring the most useful information to families who might have difficultly accessing those resources.

Youth Recognition This past month, 18 Salt Lake City youth and their families joined with their case managers for dinner and an evening filled with fun conversations and special recognition. The event started with a unique menu of authentic Syrian cuisine. Case managers then awarded certificates while sharing fun insights and accomplishments of each youth. Gift bags and door prices were also presented thanks to ASPIRE staff and donations from local businesses.

Among the youth who attended, half of them work part-time or participate in volunteer activities to gain work experience. Two of the youth were recognized with Student-of-the-Year awards from their respective high schools. One of the youth who graduated from high school will attend Utah Valley University in the fall. Moreover, most of these youth now receive services through Vocational Rehabilitation or WIOA.

Way to go, ASPIRE Utah youth!!

Staff Highlight - Travis Catt

Travis Catt

Travis Catt comes to the ASPIRE Arizona team incredibly excited to work with youth and the Arizona team. He knows a good thing when he sees it (just look at his wife!) and feels the ASPIRE research project is inspired. He has been in social work/education for seven years, and is extremely grateful for this opportunity.

Travis was born and raised in the booming metropolis of Marana, Arizona. After graduating high school, he spent a year studying at Eastern Arizona College in Thatcher, before leaving for a two year mission for his church to Mexico City. After returning, he finished his Associate’s degree at EAC then went to Brigham Young University- Idaho to receive his Bachelor’s degree in Social Work. After being in Idaho’s freezing cold and wind for two years, he was ready to head back to the valley of the sun to get his tan back. He completed his Master’s degree in Social Work from Arizona State University in 2015. A week after graduating Travis married his wife Charlee and together they have a beautiful daughter. For the last two years Travis has been the site manager for both a Peer and Family Run-Organization working with children with disabilities, as well as a behavioral health center in Safford, Arizona. During this time he also taught the course Introduction to Social Work at the local community college. He notes this as one of the greatest experiences in his professional career.

In his spare time, Travis enjoys reading, travelling to new places with his family, trying new kinds of food at local restaurants, longboarding, and binge watching Netflix (his favorite: The Great British Baking Show, seriously, give it a try!)

Travis Catt
Case Manager

June 15, 2017

In This Issue:

The Director's Corner

North Dakota
South Dakota

Staff Highlight - Travis Catt

ASPIRE Website

Follow ASPIRE on Facebook

"Include Us in YOUR Newsletter!"

ASPIRE Partners

Contact Us

The Director's Corner

Summer offers many opportunities! Summer is a time to being out of school and having fun! It’s also the chance to try new things, like having a job! Many ASPIRE youth are doing just that this summer. Case Managers have worked with ASPIRE youth and many partner agencies to provide work experiences and volunteer opportunities in the coming months.

This summer also marks the last quarter of ASPIRE. We started over 3.5 years ago! With just 16 months to go in the PROMISE research study, it’s time for the ASPIRE Project Leadership to visit all six states to meet with staff and partners. To date, Chris Fosdick and Shonna Thomas, the ASPIRE Trainers and I have visited four of the six states. We are looking forward to the final two visits this month. The visits have been a very interactive experience with great learning and conversation. Case Managers and Site Coordinators have been sharing the challenges they face, along with the incredible change that is happening in the lives of the youth and families. There is no doubt that ASPIRE is making a difference in their lives.

It’s also clear that the ASPIRE staff have a wide range of knowledge and skills to work with youth with disabilities and their families. They have assisted youth and families with guardianship and supported decision making, finding an affordable family car, creating resumes with both the youth and parent, shopping for work clothes, touring college campuses, connecting youth to employment and so much more. Great work, ASPIRE staff!

Also, I’d like to welcome the new ASPIRE Arizona Site Coordinator, Shelley Baudean. Shelley has worked as a Case Manager in ASPIRE and brings great experience to her new position. Congratulations, Shelley!

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:

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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.