Volume 4 Issue 7

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State Updates:

Regional Conference ASPIRE Arizona is very excited about our Regional Conferences this summer, being organized by the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension! The first conference was held June 16th in Tucson. Attendees and presenters alike greatly enjoyed the day. Everyone had the chance to learn about SSI from Ability 360. They discussed college and career options with Vocational Rehabilitation. There are more Regional Conferences coming, so be sure to talk with your Case Manager and attend. There’s more happening this summer.

Coming up in ASPIRE Arizona for July/August are:

  • Self Determination workshops in Phoenix, San Luis, Yuma, Queen Creek, Kingman, Window Rock, Tucson, and Glendale
  • Financial Education workshop series in Phoenix and Glendale
  • Raising Special Kids workshops in Phoenix and Yuma, including the 3rd Annual Transition Institute for Parents, Youth, and Young Adults on July 28th. Register here:
  • Job Fairs and Employment workshops including help with resumes and interview skills, and training on customer service and time management
  • ASPIRE Regional Conferences. Register here: tinyurl.com/y7ygoxtm

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.

Peak Parent Center to offering the ASPIRE Parent Education and Training and the ASPIRE Youth Self-Determination Training. They created a six-part curriculum and have travelled to eight areas across Colorado from the Eastern Plains to the Western Slope to facilitated training to ASPIRE youth and families.

Peak Parent Center staff have seen remarkable trends of the parents and youth who have attended the training. ASPIRE parents have learned how to help their youth find independence. They report they are more confident to let their youth take chances and expand their horizons. They are comfortable guiding rather than controlling their youth. ASPIRE youth are now reporting that they feel they have a future and can achieve their dreams. Many are pursing college or other training, and getting jobs, when they didn’t think they could in the past. Some have moved out on their own, surprising their parents. Youth are learning new skills, and when combined with their talents, are being successful as they move into adult life.

Peak Parent Center will continue the Parent Education trainings and the Youth Self-Determination trainings until February 28, 2019. Talk with your Case Manager and get the schedule of trainings for the coming months.

Dakota When ASPIRE Montana Case Manager, Mark first met Dakota a year ago, he came into the meeting with a brilliant shock of blue hair. Dakota let me know it was his visual tribute to Autism Awareness Month. Dakota is a person with autism who is living and working toward his own definition of independence and success.

Dakota recently graduated from high school, and has been employed at various times during his education. His mother, Amy has helped facilitate his post-secondary education plans by contacting Rocky Mountain College regarding enrollment. In my last meeting Dakota and Amy were pleased to report he has been accepted to audit two courses during Fall semester. He will be taking a drama and voice class. His career goal is to work as a DJ, voice over actor or another job within the media arts.

Dakota Dakota is following his interest and passion for the arts after being involved in the Drama Club at his high school. He has acted and participated in all student productions for the past two years. He starred as Captain Hook in the production of Peter Pan! (“Avast ye swabbies!”).

Dakota and his family have been very active in ASPIRE attending the trainings offered, doing work experiences, going to the Montana Youth Leadership Forum and volunteering. In addition to these ASPIRE activities, Dakota is a super star athlete with Special Olympics and volunteers at his church as a greeter and child care worker.

Amy is the rock of this family and has worked very hard to support Dakota’s goals. She herself has completed the requirements to become a paraprofessional at the local school district. Amy is now working full time at a local Middle School and works tirelessly to facilitate Dakota’s continued success. Amy and Dakota inspire many in their community!

North Dakota
Summer for ASPIRE North Dakota youth is focused on achieving goals! This summer there are more youth employed in their communities with summer jobs. Several youths have registered to begin attending college in the fall. In addition, many of these youth are teamed up with North Dakota Vocational Rehabilitation for support. Employment support includes assisting with exploring jobs in their interest area, applying for jobs, preparing and interviewing for positions, and providing on the job supports to help them learn the job tasks to be as successful as possible. Several youth going to college in the fall will be making use of smart pens to help them take notes. An ADA fire alarm has been installed in the dorm room of one youth, and funds to assist with tuition, fees and books are ready. Other youth are working with North Dakota’s Centers for Independent Living to gain the skills needed to complete driver’s license exams. ASPIRE Case Managers are helping with filling out FAFSA applications, reminding youth and families of deadlines, completing applications for college residence halls, setting up college tours and discussing future employment options.

There is so much happening this summer that will lead to continued success and achieving goals for these self-determined youth.

South Dakota
Bryce One of the most important aspects of the Parent Training Interventions provided to ASPIRE families is the tools and resources to advocate for their children. This has proven its worth in the case of Bryce’s dad, Brian. Brian is a single parent raising a son with multiple disabilities. He is also dealing with his own medical issues and financial struggles. He and Bryce have always been active participants in the ASPIRE. They attend Self-Determination Classes, financial and parent training and special events. This last school year Bryce was exhibiting extreme behaviors at school resulting in his suspension. With school no longer an option and the local hospital not offering inpatient services for children with autism, Brian was on his own to find answers. Using the tools and resources he has gathered over the last four years he went above and beyond to advocate for Bryce.

Brian requested a special meeting with the school. He put together a support team of family members, staff from the Family Support Program and ASPIRE, as well as Bryce’s therapist. During the meeting Brian pushed for service. Together they developed an alternative placement plan for Bryce to complete the school year. However, he wasn’t done yet. Because Bryce was a senior and had just turned 18 his dad continued to advocate for him to participate in the 18 to 21 year old work transition program next year. He also set up a summer school program and got him signed up for camps and the Companion Care Program so he would continue to have structure through the summer months. Bryce is doing much better now. He even lead the last ASPIRE Self-Determination Class. Thanks to his Dad’s love and dedication, Bryce will have a chance to accomplish many more goals.

We often hear stories from ASPIRE youth, parents and Case Managers. Let’s hear from an ASPIRE Utah provider, the Fair Credit Foundation (FCF).

An ASPIRE Utah family contacted the Fair Credit Foundation wanting to pay off debts. They had learned of the Debt Management Program from an ASPIRE training with one of the FCF Certified Personal Financial Counselors. The family, had purchased an older home that needed a lot of repairs. To finance those repairs, they put the expenses on their credit card. Meanwhile, between adjusting to a new mortgage and paying down the balances, the family’s finances became very tight.

The family decided to enroll in the FCF Debt Management Program. They discussed debt repayment options with a counselor, and set up a spending plan. This five-year (or less) program is designed to help people pay down debt with monthly consolidated payments through a nonprofit credit counseling agency, such as Fair Credit Foundation. For this family, enrolling in this program has resulted in extra disposable income at the end of each month. In turn, the family has put this extra money towards other necessities and emergency savings.

If you would like free, personal assistance to address budget, savings, credit or debt concerns, tell your ASPIRE Case Manager. They are happy to connect you with a Certified Personal Financial Counselor from the Fair Credit Foundation.

July 27, 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 is a busy time! Children and teens are out of school. Parents are figuring out how to keep them busy! The best option for young people is to get out in the community. Did you know that about 30% of teens in high school get jobs? And even more volunteer. Whichever a teen is doing, they are learning the many skills needed to move on to careers in the future, whether they are paid or not. Arriving on time, being friendly, dressing appropriately, doing job tasks – these are all important skills for the future.

ASPIRE youth are doing just that. ASPIRE’s research shows that youth who volunteer are more likely to become employed. So if you are a business, open your doors to youth with disabilities and diversify your workplace. Local museums, libraries and others welcome young people to volunteer. Teens, check out all the opportunities in your town or community. You might be surprised at what’s out there for you.

Some ASPIRE youth are getting a jump on college! Several recent graduates are taking classes this summer. Even taking one class during the slower summer helps a young person adjust to college life, whether that’s a technical school or a university.

So before summer is over, get busy! Make choices today that mean a career in the future!


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.