Volume 3 Issue 9

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State Updates:

Shelley Baudean, the ASPIRE Arizona Site Coordinator shares a story of Abel, an ASPIRE Arizona youth. Abel is ready to start school at South Mountain Community College. Working with his ASPIRE Case Manager, Shelley, Abel has completed the application and many forms. He is really excited to start taking classes towards a Business degree. While Abel already has a job as a sign spinner for different businesses around his home, he is applying to different retail and grocery stores to find a new part time job while he goes to college. Abel recently completed training with the Valley Metro and can now navigate the bus system by himself. Upon completing the bus training, he received a “Platinum Card” that allows him to ride the bus free for a year. Abel is increasing his responsibilities at home too, since because his mother just had her 6th child. Abel has grown more confident in the time he has been in ASPIRE. While very shy when first meeting, Abel has since opened up and become more confident. That confidence is evident in his improvement with his speech. He can articulate his words better, and now he is more outgoing and talkative.

After a very exciting summer, filled with work experiences, job clubs and volunteer activities, fall brings a new school year. ASPIRE Colorado Case Managers are working with youth attending high school, college or trade schools, to ensure they are receiving the necessary accommodations to make their school year a success.

Case Managers have also assisted youth in returning to school to complete their high school diploma or GED program. Case Manager continue to with Division of Vocational Rehabilitation in addition to local Workforce Centers to assist youth and families in accessing apprenticeship and internship programs, and gaining employment

Every day, ASPIRE Colorado Case Managers are making a positive impact on the lives of the youth and families.

Liam Meet Liam Ruby, an amazing young man from Missoula MT! When ASPIRE Case Manager, Kim York, visited with Liam the first time, he was experiencing a lot of anxiety about moving from middle school to a very large high school. Liam and Kim did several walkthroughs before school started and as a result, Liam said it was his best ever first day of school!

After navigating the start of school, Liam told Kim he was interested in computer programing and video game design. Kim introduced Liam to Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) services where he was connected to an employment specialist. Liam also began participating in vocational classes, learned soft skills, and attended self-determination classes though SUMMIT Independent living Center. Through the employment specialist’s efforts, Liam began working at Missoula Aging Services where he did data entry and power point editing. Liam blew them away with how easily he learned the programs.

Liam now has a team that consists of his VR counselor, employment coach, his mother, mental health case manager, IEP case manager, and Kim. The employment specialist and Liam are now exploring The Montana Code School where Liam could learn to become a Jr. Web Page designer. As a result, his team is requesting IEP alterations to accommodate a paid work experience, get Liam credits for attending the code school, and obtain school credit for the other job related work he has been doing. Last but not least, the team is working on transportation supports for Liam.

The team states, “We all are amazed at how Liam was able to show us his strengths and take off on a pathway towards an exciting employment possibility! Go Liam!”

North Dakota
School is in full swing again. Students are back at high school and a few have started college this fall! Before classes began, some ASPIRE youth and families made use of various community resources for affordable back to school supplies. Some of the community resources included the Salvation Army, the Optimist Club “Fill the Bus” event and an event called “We’ve Got you Covered.” One youth also saved up money earned at a summer job to purchase some new clothes for school!

It is an exciting time of year with new classes, new teachers and new opportunities. Many students are working with new teachers and staff. The ASPIRE Case Managers are meeting with educational staff and attending IEP meetings. Case managers are also assisting youth and their parents to participate more effectively in the IEP process. Students are encouraged to find various ways to increase their self-determination and participate directly in their IEP meetings. Case Managers encourage students and parents to discuss employment with their school and vocational rehabilitation teams and look for opportunities while still in high school.

This month ASPIRE North Dakota is scheduling new training events for parents and youth. We will again be offering opportunities for self-determination, parent training and financial capability training through our partnering agencies. It’s great information for families.

South Dakota
Liam Twins, Brynne and Emma graduated from St. Francis Indian School this past May. They spent their summer getting ready to start a brand new adventure. This adventure is going to be a completely new experience for both girls. They started college in August but they won’t be attending the same school. Emma’s dream to be a veterinarian took her to Black Hills State University and Brynne is attending Northern State University to pursue a degree in IT. Their campuses are 330 miles apart. Brynne and Emma know it will be hard to be apart for the first time in their lives but they are both excited to start this new chapter.

Prior to classes starting, both girls attended a program at their schools designed for Native American college students to get acclimated to college life prior to the hustle and bustle of the first few weeks of schools. At NSU, Brynne took part in the Circle Program and at BHSU, Emma participated in the Bridge Program. They were able to meet new friends and get accustomed to college life.

The first few weeks of college have gone well for Brynne and Emma. They talk every day but are enjoying being individuals and not just “one of the twins.” Both of them have reached out to the Disability Coordinators at their respective universities and are utilizing the assistive technology they received from DakotaLink through Vocational Rehabilitation. They are also part of their school’s TRIO programs and are staying active in the Native American groups on campus. Brynne and Emma are very excited for the rest of the school year!

Many of us know the intrinsic benefits of volunteering. But did you know that volunteering can better help people to secure employment. That’s right! Volunteering can increase individuals’ experience and skills as well as increase their ability to network. When included on a resume, it creates a good impression to potential employers. Starting next month, ASPIRE youth throughout Utah will have unique opportunities to volunteer – and give back to their communities.

On October 6, the evening before the St. George Marathon, ASPIRE youth in southern Utah will help with the “Move IT! Kids Run”. Throughout October, ASPIRE youth will have the opportunity to assemble hygiene kits, stuff dolls, sand wood toys and other fun projects that will benefit children and families locally and internationally.

ASPIRE Case Managers look forward to talking with the youth after the volunteering events to discuss knowledge and skills learned, as well as their impression of working with others.

Staff Highlight - Jada McDonald

Jada McDonald

Recently, Jada McDonald joined the ASPIRE North Dakota team. Jada is originally from Detroit Michigan; moved with the military and saw some gorgeous places. She moved to Minot, North Dakota from Key West this past winter. Burrrrrr! She studied psychology at Old Dominion University. Before starting my career at NDCPD, she worked at a resident treatment facility, where she supported children coping with mental illnesses. She is a passionate advocate for persons with disabilities and NDCPD was a natural fit. Her greatest passion is bringing independence as well as individuality to persons with disabilities. She is a strong believer that there is no one size fits all approach to assist individuals in reaching their full capabilities. This is achieved by encouraging youth to understand their strengths, interests, and who they are by way of self-determination. Jada is busy completing her ASPIRE trainings and orientation and is looking forward to meeting with youth and families soon.

Jada McDonald
Case Manager

September 15, 2017

In This Issue:

The Director's Corner

North Dakota
South Dakota

Staff Highlight - Jada McDonald

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.

Hurricanes in Texas and Florida. Wildfires in the Montana and Utah. Earthquakes in Idaho. The headlines are filled with natural disasters. I’m reminded to think about being prepared for emergencies. That’s not easy. We live our lives days focused on what’s happening right now, rather than what might happen in the future.

“Disasters don’t plan ahead, but you can!” is the theme of this month’s Emergency Preparedness Month! I hope each of us take a moment to consider our families and how we can take care of each other in an emergency. The most important thing to do is what the Boy Scouts tell us, “Be Prepared.”

First, make a plan. How will you communicate with your children or parents when phones don’t work? Where will you meet up? Check out the web resources below and make your plan today.

Second, make a kit. As we listen to what is happening after the hurricanes, some people will not have electricity for a month. Grocery stores aren’t even open. What will you eat? Where will you live? Making small ‘bug out bags’ with food, water, clothing and a first aid kit can really help in a pinch. Make one for each member of your family.

Third, be informed. Contact your local city or community offices, and find out what they have planned. Where you will go if you have to evacuate? Where will the shelters be?

Disasters and emergencies happen when we least expect them. But we can prepare. I hope you’ll check out the many resources for you and your family and take at least one step today!

FEMA - https://www.ready.gov/publications
Make a Family Plan - https://www.ready.gov/make-a-plan
Family Communication - https://www.utah.gov/beready/family/documents/family_communication.pdf
Top Ten List for Preparedness on a Budget - https://www.utah.gov/beready/documents/top10list.pdf

Carol Ruddell
ASPIRE Project Director


Include Us in YOUR Newsletter!

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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.