Volume 4 Issue 5

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State Updates:

ASPIRE Arizona is proud of what youth are accomplishing! This month, 70 youth graduating from high school! Congratulations!

ASPIRE youth are also looking into the future and taking the steps to achieve their dreams. Antony learned about his benefits and working by meeting with a Benefits Specialist at Ability 360. Before receiving this service, he worked for a daily rate, two hours a week at a daycare. After learning about SSI’s student earned income exclusion, how to report earnings to Social Security, and ABLE accounts, he accepted a full-time position at $10 an hour at the daycare!

Like Antony, you too can learn about benefits, going to work and being on your own. There are lots of workshops coming soon to a town near you. We hope to see you there!

  • Self Determination workshops in Laveen, Peoria, Tuscon, Mesa, Sierra Vista, Casa Grande, Avondale, Phoenix, Glendale, Prescott, and Tempe
  • Financial Education workshop series in Prescott, Chandler, Tucson, and Northern AZ
  • Raising Special Kids workshops in Phoenix and Payson
  • Employment workshops including help with resumes and interview skills
  • ASPIRE Conferences in Tucson (June 16th) and Flagstaff (June 30th)

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

Miguel May is an exciting month, ASPIRE youth are completing another year in school, planning for summer employment, and one of the most important milestones, graduating from high school. Miguel is a great example of a young man who is tackling (pun intended) both graduation and employment.

Miguel enrolled with ASPIRE in 2015 and is a senior at East High School. He will graduate in June with a certificate of completion, and will attend The Community Transition House after high school. Miguel enjoys drawing, and playing sports. Since the 8th grade, Miguel has participated in wrestling and has been a member of East High School’s wrestling team. Miguel’s long term goal is to become a firefighter because he likes to help others. Recently Miguel did a situation assessment at Pizza Ranch in Pueblo. He shared that he has learned the following skills; figuring out what time he needs to leave home to get to work on time, how to work with customers, make pizzas, do dishes, and interact with his co-workers. Miguel shared he would like begin working at Pizza Ranch once he’s done with his situational assessment.

Miguel shares the following with other students with disabilities: “Just because you have special needs, does not mean that you cannot achieve your dreams. You have to put your mind to it and put aside what people tell you. You have to prove them wrong.”

Miguel’s Case Manager Cruzita Tafoya, recognizes his determination to succeed. He is setting goals and achieving them! Congratulations to Miguel and the entire graduation class of 2018!

Jon Youth and families benefit from ASPIRE. Jon and his mother, Farrahl, are a great example. When Jon and his mother enrolled in ASPIRE in 2015, Jon didn’t believe he could set goals to get what he wants. Three years later, we have to wonder if that was ever the case. Jon has long struggled with getting up in the morning and being ready for school. Recently he set this goal for himself. He’s not only met this goal, but plans to keep it up through the end of the school year. Independence has a whole new meaning for Jon.

Farrahl, wants Jon to get the supports he needs to succeed in school. With the help of the ASPIRE Case Manager, she has learned when and how to ask for services and help. As Farrahl has learned how to do this, she’s also helping Jon to advocate for himself. This includes taking more advanced Math classes so he can achieve his goal of attending college.

Back in 2015, Jon had not considered going to work. Through ASPIRE he set and achieved a goal to enroll with Vocational Rehabilitation and got a job at Hardee’s. Jon and his mother were concerned that the fast-food workplace would be too busy and loud, overstimulating Jon. As it turns out, Jon has enjoyed working at Hardee’s for almost a year and wants to take on more responsibility.

Three years into ASPIRE, Jon and Farrahl have learned to set goals, and apply themselves to achieving them. With the right supports in place, Jon can indeed set goals and get what he wants.

North Dakota
It is starting to look a lot like… Graduation! Six ASPIRE North Dakota students are graduating this year. These young people have worked hard to achieve this milestone! They have been very dedicated to this goal and are ready to that the next step toward independence.

When it comes to working hard, ASPIRE North Dakota youth and their families have been very busy to reach their goals. ASPIRE youth and parents attended a Financial Literacy training by Independence, Inc. This training addressed the goal of becoming independent – how to pay for college, and home/renter’s insurance. Youth have also been learning about college by taking campus tours at colleges all over North Dakota.

Many youth are looking for work after graduation. For one youth who is already working, it’s about advancing his career and getting the job he wants, where he wants! Danny already has a job working at a local fast-food restaurant, but he’s thinking about his next job! He took a ‘behind the scenes’ tour of WalMart, met the team and attending the morning staff meeting. He’s already planning how to be the next best applicant!

Graduation can be a scary time. It’s the end of many years of commitment and hard work. It means a change for the ASPIRE young people. As youth, families and ASPIRE staff attend Commencement, we are reminded that it means ‘beginning’. In other words, Graduation isn’t the end, but rather the beginning, the opening of new doors, new opportunities.

ASPIRE youth are well equipped to find resources to improve education and explore career choices as they graduate from high school.

South Dakota
Josh enrolled in ASPIRE over 3 years ago and has been very busy accomplishing many goals since then. Josh and his mom have been the “ideal” ASPIRE family who always meet with their Case Manager, Linda Schoon each month, attend all Self Determination and Parent trainings, and complete all annual surveys. Just how committed are they? Josh and his mother drive about 120 miles round trip to attend trainings!

Shortly after enrolling, Josh started working with Vocational Rehabilitation. He learned job skills that prepared him for a job through Project Skills where he gained a paid work experience working in a nursing home. He also volunteers at his school by delivering newspapers to staff and helps clean buses at the Boys club. He is actively involved in Special Olympics and has earned many medals in swimming, basketball, and bowling. He placed 2nd in the Special Olympics state bowling tournament!

Last week, Josh’s team met to plan for his future, and discuss the options that are available to him when he graduates May 27th. Because of Josh and his mom’s close involvement with services such as Vocational Rehabilitation, Project Skills, Family Support, Benefits Specialist Services and working closely with the school, they are well prepared and fully informed to make the decisions that will best meet Josh’s needs as he transitions to life after High School.

Linda Schoon, Josh’s ASPIRE Case Manager says, “It has been such a pleasure to work with Josh and his family and to be a part of their successes and achievements. I see a bright future for this young man! I am excited to see what the next year will bring!” Congratulations for all you’ve done, Josh!

ASPIRE Utah youth and families have many opportunities to learn new things and develop new skills. ASPIRE Utah trainings for both the parents and the youth are offered for groups or for individuals. Recently more and more parents want to learn about the guardianship or power of attorney process. They are concerned about how their child will take care of themselves, make medical decisions, manage their money and more. The Utah State Courts have a program that assists families to understand what these mean and what the best plan is for an individual. ASPIRE Utah has arranged for families to meet individually with attorneys or “Court Visitors” to understand this process and assist with court documents and testimony.

Erin Talley, ASPIRE Utah Case Manager reports that parents often begin with thinking they need full guardianship of their child. In the end they discover that a limited guardianship or even a power of attorney is best for their situation. In making this choice, young adults maintain appropriate control of their lives in the areas in which they are capable.

To learn more about this training, contact your ASPIRE Utah Case Manager or call (844) 880-9171 toll free.

May 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

ASPIRE has been around for over four years. Even youth and families who enrolled later, have had two years of meetings, trainings and lots of opportunities. When PROMISE first began in 2013, we understood that there was limited time to work with youth and families. We hope to show that all ASPIRE does, and all the youth and families do, results in better education, employment and independence in the future, than those not assigned to the study group. But time seemed so short!

Now we have great news! ASPIRE and all the PROMISE projects have been given the opportunity of more time! Originally, ASPIRE planned to end this fall in September 2018. The US Department of Education is allowing us to extend ASPIRE’s work until May, 2019. I am very excited for this opportunity!! ASPIRE can learn so much as youth graduate and move into college or work. In fact, we learn a great deal from parents when that happens too. Youth may become more independent and parents may be less involved, but parents’ perspectives and thoughts are just as important when the ASPIRE youth is 20 years old as when they are 14 years old. Parents are always an important part of a child’s life, no matter the age.

So how does this extended time impact ASPIRE? Youth and parents will complete another survey (36-months after enrolling). More workshops and individual help will be available. That means it’s not too late! Youth and parents can learn more about Social Security, healthcare, finances, legal rights and more. I hope you’ll take advantage of these opportunities.

To learn more about what’s happening near you, be sure to contact your ASPIRE Case Manager! Don’t miss the chance!


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.