Volume 4 Issue 6

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State Updates:

Kali ASPIRE youth have really grown in their time working with Case Managers and learning new skills as they prepare for adult life! This is true for Kali, a youth who works with ASPIRE Case Manager, Debbie. Kali is a happy young lady who loves her kitten whom she rescued from being hurt and abandoned near her school.

When she started ASPIRE, her mom was worried about Kali being able to get around town on her own. They decided it was time for Kali to get travel training through Valley Metro. The program provides one on one training to learn how to ride the bus system. Kali’s trainer worked with her for a few hours a day for six days. Kali learned how to get to school and back home again, she also learned to talk to the driver if she needs help, and even earned a free annual bus pass! She rode the bus with her brother to and from school, but after he started football she had to ride from school alone, making her feel very independent.

This training has lifted Kali's confidence and showed her she can do things on her own and doesn’t have to depend on others. Debbie has seen a sureness develop in her that is affecting other areas of her life as well. Kali loves to sing but was always too shy to do so in public. This past school year she joined the choir at school and has sung in a few concerts and now is looking forward to doing a solo! Debbie knows she will use these skills now and in the future. Kali will succeed in whatever she does.

Coming up in ASPIRE Arizona for June/July are:

  • Self Determination workshops in Phoenix, Tempe, Chandler, and Kingman
  • Financial Education workshop series in Phoenix and Tucson
  • Raising Special Kids workshops in Phoenix and Yuma, including the 3rd Annual Transition Institute for Parents, Youth, and Young Adults on July 28th
  • Employment workshops including help with resumes and interview skills
  • ASPIRE Regional Conferences in Tucson (June 16th), Flagstaff (June 30th), and Glendale (July 21st)

Talk to your ASPIRE Case Manager or check out the ASPIRE Arizona calendar: https://tinyurl.com/ycw87v23. Feel free to contact us with any questions! Our toll free number is 844-260-2890.

Teonna and Stacy May is always a special time. It’s also a time of transition, change and growth, and for one family in Western Colorado this May was even more memorable. This year an ASPIRE youth and her mother succeeded in being the first people in their family to receive degrees.

Teonna Legrand, became the first person in her family to graduate from high school. When her name was called, she walked across the stage with a shining smile. Her mother, Stacy, cheered from the stands as she watched her daughter. Teonna had overcome many obstacles to do something she herself had failed to do when she was a teenager - graduate from high school.

Stacy has been a powerful force and inspiration to her daughter. This May she was the first person in her family to graduate from a university with a Bachelor’s degree. While working, raising her children and helping Teonna finish high school, she pushed herself to get her degree. She knows that her university degree is a gateway, a transition, to a better life for her family.

Two generations of the Legrand family made history in the same week. Both mother and daughter graduated glowing with pride and achievement. With support and encouragement, as well as great determination, this ASPIRE family show all of us a future filled with opportunities.

Malik When Malik first started working with ASPIRE he lived in Colorado. He lived with his mom and siblings whom he loves very much. While in Colorado he frequently experienced homelessness, difficulty in school, and confusion about his future. After working on career plans with an ASPIRE Case Manager, Malik set a long term goal to become a nurse. With such as a large goal, Malik had to explore the best way to achieve it. He tackled this and all the necessary tasks with the great determination!

Malik and his mom decided the best way to do this was through Job Corps. He applied for and was accepted into a program in Montana. After moving to Montana, his ASPIRE case was transferred to a Montana Case Manager who continued to meet with him regularly. Together they are working on securing his social security benefits and strategizing about life after Job Corps. While ASPIRE is helping, there’s no question Malik is taking the lead and making his goals come true.

While at Job Corps, Malik has worked very hard and achieved getting nursing assistant certification (CNA) and his national certification in phlebotomy. His Case Manager, Debi beamed with pride as Malik shared an important recent achievement - obtaining his high school equivalency diploma. His next objective is to get his driver’s license. Every month, Malik continues to set and achieve goals. His most recent accomplishment? Malik, has been accepted into the local community college.

Malik’s long term goal has not changed but it’s now more refined. He wants to earn his RN and become a trauma nurse in the Emergency Department of a hospital. Everyone, Malik, his family and ASPIRE are very proud of his determination and perseverance. Malik works very hard to make his dreams come true! Way to go Malik!

North Dakota
ASPIRE North Dakota is celebrating summer and all the activities youth are completing! Many ASPIRE youth are looking for jobs, or already have them! Employment includes work at a university horticulture department, work as cooks and servers in restaurants, and one youth who is interested in sports is exploring positions at Scheels Sporting Goods and Dick’s Sporting Goods stores. Another youth has teamed up with Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) and is working at the Goodwill Store. He will also learn public transportation with help from VR and his job coach.

Many youth are also attending summer camp and have contributed to their camps fees with money earned from employment. Youth have set goals that can be accomplished by attending camps such as working on independent living, social skills and self-determination skills. Summer camps include sessions offered by Camp Grassick’s transitional camp, the Anne Carlsen Center Techno Camp and a two-week Camp Grassick. Camp Grassick includes a selection of workshops, classes and recreational activities, to prepare young adults for the transition of moving from high school and living at home to independent living and jobs while gaining more independence. ASPIRE youth are also attending a Deaf and Hard of Hearing camp and a Farmer’s Union Camp.

Summer may be short in North Dakota, but the ASPIRE youth and their Case Managers will be very busy and make the most of the summer season!

South Dakota
Emma To set and achieve personal goals is a key component of ASPIRE. Emma, an ASPIRE South Dakota youth is doing just that! Emma has had a goal to attend college and run cross country. She has just finished her freshman year at Black Hills State University where she is majoring in Pre-Veterinary Medicine. Emma had a great start to her college career and passed all her classes her first 2 semesters, barely missing the Dean's List first semester.

A knee injury has put her goal to run cross country in college on hold, but she hasn't given up on that dream. She underwent surgery to repair her injuries shortly after she finished finals. Emma is recovering very well and is excited to begin running again. She anticipates being able to compete in cross country by her junior year, if not earlier.

Emma is as determined in the classroom as she is while competing in races. She recently was awarded a $1000 scholarship from LaCreek Electric, and was named TRIO Student of the Month for February. Her hard work and determination are definitely paying off!

Once Emma's knee is healed, she plans to get a summer job before heading back to Black Hills State University in the fall. Emma continues to show her maturity and self-determination while being on her own for the first time. Emma has set goals, maintains her priorities, and continues to impress all those who are around her! Keep up the great work, Emma!

281691 ASPIRE always celebrates the many accomplishments of youth and families. Recently, more than 30 family members attended a youth dinner and recognition night in Northern Utah. Local businesses and universities donated items that made the celebration even more fun! Here are some facts worth celebrating in ASPIRE Utah.

  • 85% of the youth who were honored are attending school or have graduated.
  • 85% of the youth have attended ASPIRE trainings to help them become more independent
  • 70% of the families previously attended or participated in services provided by Roads to Independence (the local independent living center) including: how to use public transportation, shopping and cooking skills, and even an ergonomic assessment of a home.
  • 30% of the youth are employed.
  • 85% of the parents have attended ASPIRE training that address financial literacy, community resources, and educational opportunities.
ASPIRE celebrated families as well. Youth and families enjoyed Syrian cuisine catered by an ASPIRE youth’s refugee family. This young man’s mother also recently received the prestigious “Mother of the Year” award from the non-profit organization Women of the World.

ASPIRE Utah families, be sure to check out the monthly newsletter for the many upcoming events. We hope to see you there!

June 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

Summer always brings so many celebrations! ASPIRE youth are graduating and moving on to adult life. They are getting jobs and earning money. Youth are ready to head out to summer camps. Some are preparing for even more school, heading off to college or specialized training. Summer is a time of transition, a time of change. And this summer is no different.

The goals of ASPIRE are that youth will become employed, further their education and become more independent. Case Managers and ASPIRE partners have now spent several years with these goals in mind when working with youth and families. And it’s coming true! Recent analysis by the ASPIRE Evaluation Team is showing that the more youth and families participate in ASPIRE, the higher their expectations for the future. Having high expectations and learning new skills for adult living means that more personal goals are set and more are being accomplished.

As you enjoy the articles in this month’s newsletter, I know you’ll celebrate all that ASPIRE youth and families have reached. Stay tuned for all that’s still to come! With one year to go, youth and families will be achieving even more.


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.