Aggies Elevated receives Sorenson grant

May 29, 2015 by Sue Reeves

A group of Aggies Elevated students.

Aggies Elevated program director Sarah Bodily (center) with a group of students. The program recently received a Sorenson Legacy Foundation grant.

Aggies Elevated, an inclusive college experience for young adults with intellectual disabilities, based at Utah State University’s Center for Persons with Disabilities, was recently named the recipient of a $100,000 grant from the Salt Lake City-based Sorenson Legacy Foundation.

“Becoming sustainable is a challenge we face daily with Aggies Elevated,” said Sarah Bodily, program director for Aggies Elevated. “We want to be here to support students for many years to come, and funding such as this grant from the Sorenson Legacy Foundation will allow us to continue. We are beyond grateful for the money from this foundation. It will allow us to provide daily supports for our Aggies Elevated students.”

The Sorenson Legacy Foundation is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit corporation established by James LeVoy Sorenson and his wife Beverley for the purpose of promoting charitable, artistic, religious, educational, literary and scientific endeavors. The foundation’s board meets quarterly to consider grant applications. Grant applications are judged on several criteria, including:

–Assist the disenfranchised of society, such as but not limited to, abused spouses and children, in order that they receive the full benefits of membership in society and fulfill their potential as human beings; and

–Advance the programs at private and state universities and colleges that are consistent with the foundation’s charter.

“Through this grant the Sorenson Legacy Foundation is having a direct and profound impact on the lives of our students,” said Shane Johnson, CPD associate director of development, who submitted the grant proposal. “This funding is vital to helping us sustain the Aggies Elevated program and helps ensure that another class of students will get to have the same life-changing experience that our first Aggies Elevated class is having now. We are very grateful to the Sorenson Legacy Foundation board members for supporting this program and we are excited to demonstrate to them how big an impact this grant will have on the lives of our students.”


May is Better Speech & Hearing Month

May 28, 2015 by Sue Reeves

May Pediatrics-Childhood-Speech-Hearing-Disorders-750x1072is Better Speech and Hearing Month, and professionals at Utah State University’s Center for Persons with Disabilities say that early intervention is key to helping at-risk children develop vital communication skills.

The power of early intervention can be seen locally in the CPD’s Up to 3 program, which provides early intervention services to children in Cache, Box Elder and Rich counties. This program is part of the federally mandated early intervention program and provide not only speech-language therapy, but also occupational and physical therapy, education, parent training, nutrition and care-coordination services.

“One aspect in which early intervention is extremely important is in the evaluation and diagnosis of children who have an autism spectrum disorder,” said Vicki Simonsmeier, speech-language pathologist and URLEND faculty member. “Again, families are fortunate that here locally, these services can be obtained here at the CPD. Once a correct diagnosis is made, families can get the early intervention that is so necessary for their child to be able to reach their full academic and social potential.”

Simonsmeier said if speech-language services are provided early, often children will not require services once they are enrolled in elementary school. If left untreated however, speech-language problems may have a negative impact on academic skills like reading, spelling, written language and social interactions. The goal of all early intervention is to alleviate or minimize the impact of these problems on a child’s academic, home and social life.

CPD hosts Russian Visitors

May 14, 2015 by Kelly Smith


A delegation of Russian professional educators and specialists visited the CPD May 11 as part of the Open World Program, hosted by Firefly. Firely is a charitable NGO with a vision of securing a healthy, productive life for all disadvantaged children. Their mission is to prevent children from being raised in institutions. Firefly is dedicated to helping Russian professionals significantly reduce the number of children in institutions by developing support programs for families who are socially at risk, raising young children with disabilities, and fostering or adopting young children.

Delegates toured the CPD and received a brief overview of services and projects at the Center. Dr. Mark Innocenti, Dr. Lori Roggman, and Dr. Vonda Jump discussed their research efforts in supporting parents and caregivers in improbing development outcomes. This presentation highlighted the PICCOLO research instrument.

The afternoon was spent in the ASSERT (Autism Support Services: Education, Research, and Training) classroom, hosted by Dr. Thomas S. Higbee. The visit provided a valuable opportunity for the delegates to see the ASSERT program in action.









IOTI grant to fund suicide prevention efforts

May 7, 2015 by Sue Reeves

An Interagency Outreach Training Initiative (IOTI) grant has been awarded to the Center for Persons with Disabilities at Utah State University to fund suicide prevention efforts.

According to Jeanie Peck, licensed clinical social worker and the project coordinator for the IOTI Suicide Prevention grant, the goal of the project is to do training and instruction in suicide prevention to the communities in Utah served by the Independent Living Centers.

“We will target people with disabilities or mental illness, but also the communities at large,” Peck said. “The number one cause of death in Utah is suicide. It has surpassed motor vehicle deaths, which I think is tragic.”

Utah is #5 in the nation in suicide completion, Peck said, and is part of the so-called “suicide belt” consisting of Wyoming (#1), Montana (#3), New Mexico (#4), Colorado (#6), Idaho (#7), Nevada (#8) and Arizona (not in the top 10). Oregon is rated #9 and Oklahoma rounds out the top 10.

According to information from the Utah Department of Health, one in 15 adults in Utah have had serious thoughts of suicide.

In 2012, Utah ranked #7 for suicides ages 10-17, and in 2013, suicide was the #1 cause of death for Utahns ages 10-17 in 2013. That same year, Logan had the highest youth suicide rate.

In an average classroom of 30 youth, eight will report feeling sad and hopeless. Five will have seriously considered suicide, and four will have made a plan. Two will have attempted suicide one or more times, and one will have had medical treatment for a suicide attempt.

Statistical information regarding suicide attempts and completions specifically among people with disabilities is not available.