Volume 4 Issue 8

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State Updates:

Regional Conference ASPIRE Arizona is celebrating three more Regional Conferences. The Mesa, Flagstaff and Glendale Conferences were great successes and a total of 20 families attended both conferences. In addition to learning about SSI from Ability 360 and discussing career options with Vocational Rehabilitation, youth and families enjoyed hearing from Key note speaker Mica Stewart from the Arizona Youth Leadership Forum. A new break out session was also introduced, called Just Breathe, Just Believe. Hosted by Maren Kato, Just Breathe, Just Believe is an engaging, empowering, creative, and expressive workshop for teens to experience a variety of mindful living practices and stress management tools for navigating the next stage of life. The youth enjoyed the conferences and we look forward to continued success in their lives

Coming up in ASPIRE Arizona for August/September are:

  • Self Determination workshops in Glendale, Phoenix, and Kingman
  • Financial Education workshop series in Window Rock, Yuma, Phoenix, and Glendale
  • Raising Special Kids workshops in Phoenix, Yuma, Tucson, Sahuarita, Mesa, and Bullhead City
  • Job Fairs and Employment workshops including help with resumes and interview skills, and training on customer service and time management
Contact ASPIRE Arizona with any questions at 844-260-2890, toll free.

Matthew, an ASPIRE Colorado youth recently participated in the Colorado Youth Leadership Forum on the campus of Colorado State University Campus in Fort Collins. Matt was hesitant to go, saying, “Yes, I have a special need which is ADHD, but other than that, I'm just fine”.

With each day of the weeklong program, Matt felt better and better, and became more involved. He loved the many activities he participated in and, he eventually opened up to the other youth. He cited, “I made it my mission to help the youth come out of their shells”. The Colorado Youth Leadership Program staff supported each youth by helping them through thick and thin. By the end of the week, Matt says, “I loved the community that was there, supportive and understanding people, willing to look over your flaws and see the person that you are.”

Derrick is an ASPIRE youth who was born and raised in Montana. He lives with his mom and sister, as well as some extended family. Family is very important to Derrick, and he does his best to help in the daily household chores as well as look after his younger nieces and nephews.

While Derrick would like to have his high school diploma, the traditional classroom has proven to be difficult for Derrick. He stopped attending during his junior year and enrolled in adult education. Unfortunately, transportation became a daily challenge as the family does not own a car and the distance to the school is far. Since adult education was not easily accessible for Derrick, he stopped going. Even though Derrick’s hope for a diploma dwindled his mom, Belva, continued to encourage him to find a way to get one.

Marilyn, Derrick’s ASPIRE Case Manager, had several conversations with him and researched options for Derrick. With support and encouragement from his mom, Derrick agreed to take a tour of the Job Corps in his home state. Again, transportation from his hometown to the Job Corp’s location proved to be a challenge. There was no bus route that traveled to Job Corps, Derrick did not know anyone who could give him a ride, and practices within various agencies did not permit staff to transport Derrick.

With hope nearly gone, Marilyn was able to coordinate a team to research agency policies. The team soon found a way for a Case Manager from another agency to provide transportation to Job Corp. Armed with this new knowledge of policy, Marilyn organized a ride for Derrick and his mom to tour Job Corps the next day.

While initially hesitant, once on the tour, Derrick found that Job Corps provides many opportunities suited for his needs… even if it may be a bit scary to live away from his family for a short time. While touring, Derrick even ran into a friend who is currently attending Job Corps. His friend raved about the opportunities Job Corps can provide for Derrick. He will be able to earn his high school diploma, acquire his driver’s license, and get a certification in construction!

Derrick is currently in the process of enrolling and will enter the Job Corps program soon. Best of luck Derrick. You are courageous and determined. We know you will do well!

North Dakota
ASPIRE North Dakota has been finding new ways for families to spend time together - encouraging healthy life styles, being socially active and participating in their communities. Families are setting ASPIRE goals to increase their social skills, volunteer in their hometowns and spend more time together. One family has a seasonal zoo pass, while others have been using their local wellness centers to swim, stay active and participate in group activities.

A summer job means ASPIRE youth are having their own spending money for the first time ever. They report spending their hard-earned money on hover boards used to get to work, cellphones, college textbooks and contributing to family expenses. One youth stated, “Well, look at me, I’m buying food!” Other youth have opened personal checking and savings accounts. They look forward to meeting with Financial Capability Trainers to learn how to budget, and better use their saving accounts.

ASPIRE North Dakota Case Managers are helping families prepare for back to school by sharing community resources for school supplies. In addition, students are attending school open houses, receiving their class schedules, and making plans for the start of the school year. While students may be content for the summer to continue, parents are eager for the start of the school year to once again have good routines.

South Dakota
Ari is a perfect example of what can happen when a youth has goals, attends ASPIRE trainings, and has consistently met each month with her Case Manager.

When Ari started working with an ASPIRE Case Manager, she was in high school and was working on her goal to graduate. She was very successful at school and graduated with a diploma. After graduation, she wanted to learn job skills but was not interested in post-secondary education. Ari applied for Project Search, which is a unique business-led transition program for students with disabilities. It provides students a chance to explore careers and develop transferable job skills with the goal of becoming an independent adult working in a competitive job environment. Project Search is an internship at a business with three 10-12 week rotations where students are in real-life situations where they learn all about getting and keeping a job. This was a perfect fit for Ari since she received individualized job development and placement based on her interests, skills, and strengths. Ari completed the three job training rotations in a hospital, then applied for a job in health care, and was hired!

Ari has now worked in the same job position for almost 2 years. She enjoys working about 24 hours a week, and receives medical and dental benefits. Getting a job with benefits was very important to Ari since she did not qualify for SSI benefits or Medicaid when she turned 18. Ari decided to use the job skills she learned through Project Search to get a job that would help lead her to independent living. At age 20, Ari continues to work on her goals for independent living. Knowing ASPIRE will continue till May, 2019, Ari and her Case Manager have discussed how Ari can best use that time to work on her remaining goals. Ari is a great example of a youth in the ASPIRE Project who has achieved positive outcomes in education and employment and is working toward independent living.

ASPIRE Utah youth, Miranda is working toward getting a good job that will allow her to travel a lot. She particularly wants to visit the Bahamas, Switzerland and somewhere in Africa because she likes to learn and experience different cultures. But recently, these goals were in jeopardy. Just 18 months ago Miranda was on probation and without any job prospects, and her sophomore year in high school was not going well. Her ASPIRE Case Manager, Anjanae, offered a couple of important suggestions. First, sign up with vocational rehabilitation, and second check out the training and schooling opportunities through Job Corp. Miranda followed through with both recommendations. In fact, Miranda left home just two weeks ago to begin attending Job Corp.

At Job Corp, Miranda plans to spend the first 60 to 90 days exploring the training options. She is considering painting, culinary arts, and bill coding. She has an opened mind and knows this may change, but she really wants learn new things -- as well as to earn her high school diploma. After Job Corp, Miranda wants to get an apartment with her friend and move to Texas. She added, “I think it will actually happen.”

When prompted, Miranda reflected on how her circumstances have turned for the better. She said, “I feel really positive about life and slowly I’m getting to where I need to be.” Anjanae and all the ASPIRE Utah team agree and wish her the best.

August 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

There is so much happening, as ASPIRE ends our last summer with youth and families. With five years now complete, we are very excited for the progress youth and families have made. 260 ASPIRE youth or 28% of ASPIRE youth have now graduated or exited high school. 37 have already gone on to college or specialized training. With the beginning of school just around the corner I suspect the number in college and technical programs will go up this month.

ASPIRE families have been preparing for their children to move on to adult living. It’s not without challenges. ASPIRE Case Managers work with families to make plans for the future. This includes tours of college and other training programs, establishing bank accounts, finding safe and affordable housing and moving from a pediatrician to an adult physician and more. There are so many things adults take for granted, but young people need help to figure all of this out.

Be sure to be in touch with your ASPIRE Case Manager. They are a great resource and can help with the many changes after high school.


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.