Volume 4 Issue 4

facebook twitter aspirewest.org

State Updates:

Julian ASPIRE is helping youth to explore their career interests. An ASPIRE Arizona Case Manager introduced Julian to a Phoenix Police Officer. Julian wants a career in law enforcement. He completed an informational interview to learn about being a police officer and what a future career will entail. Julian also had the opportunity to make his ‘wish’ come true. Mark A Wish Foundation flew him to California to meet Steven Tyler at his concert. He not only road in a limo, he had front row seats. Julian is definitely taking advantage of all ASPIRE has to offer. You can too!

Coming up in ASPIRE Arizona for April/May are:

  • Self Determination workshop series in Mesa and Flagstaff
  • Financial Education workshop series in Flagstaff, South Phoenix, Chandler, and Prescott
  • Raising Special Kids workshops in Tucson, Phoenix, Mesa, and Kingman
  • Employment workshops including help with resumes and interview skills
  • Job Fairs in Tempe and Phoenix, including the DREAM Fair specifically for individuals with disabilities (April 19th)
  • 9th Annual Ability 360 Health and Wellness Fair in Phoenix (April 27th and 28th)
  • Governor Doug Ducey's Youth Leadership Day at Grand Canyon University (May 4th)

Talk to your ASPIRE Case Manager or check out the ASPIRE Arizona calendar: https://tinyurl.com/ycw87v23

Julie ASPIRE continues to work with families as achieve their goals. ASPIRE Colorado parent, Julie is one example. In a past article, ASPIRE shared Julie’s story. She has been diagnosed with a hoarding disorder. Julie set a goal four months ago to clean out the clutter from her home. This was important to Julie. She needed to pass a housing inspection and knew that this change for the better would help her career goal to become a certified nursing assistant and reduce the stress with her son. In doing this, she also hoped to host a hospitality group.

Julie has worked with a personal adjustment trainer to purge items from her home. She also works with her therapist to learn why she hoards and how to prevent it from reoccurring. Despite moments of wanting to give up, Julie has worked incredibly hard. Her perseverance has paid off. Julie has met two of her goals! With the help of her team, she has passed the housing inspection and cleaned out the living room, kitchen and most of her bedroom. To celebrate these successes the team took her out for lunch. Julie had the opportunity to enjoy the time without the pressure of having to accomplish a task.

With one last goal to complete, Julie and her team are confident she will be hosting a hospitality group very soon! Way to go, Julie! You’re achieving your own goals and showing your son he can set and achieve goals too.

Anthony ASPIRE Montana youth, Anthony, and his grandmother, Cheryl, are very thankful and appreciate the encouragement and support during their time with ASPIRE. Cheryl has said that ASPIRE Case Manager, Debi Gilsoul, was instrumental in encouraging and helping her to believe that Anthony could go to college and be successful.. ASPIRE has also been of great benefit to them by providing Self Determination and Financial trainings, and connecting them to Vocational Rehabilitation services! Anthony has had an exciting and very busy several months, filled with new opportunity as well as many achievements! He excels at Montana School for Deaf and Blind with a 3.9 GPA. He is also quite the talented violinist and vocalist and has received superior ratings for his performances. Most recently, Anthony and his grandmother, Cheryl, received notification that he was selected to attend the Blind Transition Camp in Colorado this summer! Anthony’s VR counselor found the two month program and has sponsored him as well. At this camp he will have many opportunities for both learning and fun. Anthony will live in an apartment with counselors and peers, learn budgeting and personal financial management, work in a college disability service office, and explore confidence building activities during recreation time! The application process for this camp is quite complicated. Anthony completed all the tasks, including, filling out the application, writing an essay, and completing two in-depth phone interviews, one individually and one with his grandmother. Going to camp this summer will help Anthony have opportunities to develop knowledge and skills as he begins his journey towards independent living, higher education, and employment! Go Anthony!!!

North Dakota
ASPIRE North Dakota wrapped up three months of parent and self-determination trainings in Minot, Fargo and Bismarck. Trainings were delivered in a way that fit best with each group of youth and parents. The parent trainings included asking parents to bring their child’s school IEP (Individualized Education Plan) to review and prepare for upcoming meetings. They also focused on many other transition topics including age of majority, independent living, self-advocacy, assistive technology, graduation and more. Youth worked on skill-building activities, choice making, and goal setting during self-determination trainings. After hearing about the resources that are available to their youth, one parent commented “I have a lot of people to contact”

ASPIRE case managers continually work to connect youth with employment opportunities including setting up job shadowing experiences, and connecting youth to pre-employment skills trainings offered through WIOA and Vocational Rehabilitation summer work experiences. Case Managers are also assisting families with exploring summer activities including summer camp and programs. Each month, Case Managers help families to work on goals that meet ASPIRE outcomes in education, employment and independent living. One youth took a very creative approach to meet her independent living goal. She hosted a dinner party for family friends. She completed each task: making and e-mailing invitations, creating a menu, grocery shopping, cooking/baking, decorating and serving her guests. It was a successful event!

ASPIRE North Dakota youth, families and staff are looking forward to spring including warm weather, proms and graduations!

South Dakota
Sometimes ASPIRE stories have a sequel. Such is the case with Cassie, an ASPIRE South Dakota youth. Two years ago Cassie wrote an essay that was featured in the ASPIRE April 2016 Newsletter. Because of her accomplishments and determination while in high school, she was in the process of being selected for that year’s Youth Leadership Forum. Since that time Cassie has taken on many challenges with that same determination.

Cassie graduated from high school, but hadn’t decided on a course of study for college. So she decided to move out on her own and look for work. She settled into an accessible apartment, signed up for a work training program through Vocational Rehabilitation, and started to learn how to use the paratransit system to get to her appointments. After Cassie completed the training program, she found a job in the community working at a day care facility.

With success in the workforce, Cassie began to manage her own finances and realized she could also manage her Social Security benefits. She went to the local Social Security office and successfully advocated to be her own payee. Recently she was selected to be an assistant leader at the 2019 Youth Leadership Forum. Younger students will learn from her examples of independence and self-determination. ASPIRE is honored to work with such self-determined young woman! Keep up the good work, Cassie. We know you’ll accomplish even more in the future.

Jordyn Jordyn was one of the earlier youth to enroll with ASPIRE Utah. She has worked with her Case Manager, Misty, for more than 3 years.

At the beginning, Jordyn was often hesitant to try new things. But that’s not what’s happening today. So what changed? It all began with Jordyn’s high school drama class. Jordyn is blind, and she loves drama. But to be eligible to try out for a role in an upcoming school performance, Jordyn would need to earn higher grades. So Jordyn and her ASPIRE Case Manager identified a goal and a number of tasks that would help her improve her grades. When she accomplished her goal, Jordyn tried out for her high school stage production, and got the part! She performed in the women’s ensemble of Les Miserables.

Jordyn didn’t stop with that one goal accomplished. Because of her recent experience at school and new found confidence, she recently applied for a part-time job. Just like before, she got the part… or rather, the job. So what's next? If you ask Jordyn she's hinting that she may run for student council. Jordyn has found great success by setting goals and working to achieve them! Jordyn’s ASPIRE Case Manager, Misty is sure she will win the election and be on next year’s student council.

April 15, 2018

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

Time is flying in ASPIRE. With just 16 months to go, there’s much to be done. Spring is a good time to look forward to summer employment.

Improving employment and having a job while in school is a primary goal of all six PROMISE projects nationally. ASPIRE staff are working to make that happen! They are working with ASPIRE partners to make jobs available to ASPIRE youth. They include the local vocational rehabilitation and workforce agencies, local and state government and business networks.

Working in the summer is what teenagers do! I remember mowing lawns and planting flower beds in my neighborhood during the summer. One summer I even did seasonal work with a tourism agency. It may not be the career we dream of doing for the rest of our lives, but summer jobs help young people 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 discover that the job they thought they wanted, isn’t actually all they thought! They can then scratch that one off their list! Finding out what you don’t like is as important as finding what you enjoy.

So watch for ASPIRE youth to be out and working this summer. They’ll be right there with their school friends making a working in their communities.


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.