DLC produces transition report

June 19, 2015 by Sue Reeves

Image of three students walking, and pushing one in a wheelchair.

Project PEER students at USU.

The Disability Law Center, a Salt Lake City-based non-profit organization that is Utah’s designated Protection and Advocacy (P&A) agency, has produced a report on transition in the state of Utah. In the report, the DLC explores opportunities and barriers to the success of students with disabilities in competitive and integrated employment. It also provides insights from students, parents, rural communities, agencies, higher education, employers, and academics. Promising practices, challenges, and recommendations are provided in each area.

The DLC report recognized successes in school districts and programs that recognized and worked with student strengths and interests during transition planning, worked to increase parent involvement, generated positive employment experiences, utilized the support of state agencies, and programs located at universities, colleges and technical schools. The report mentioned two programs located at Utah State University’s Center for Persons with Disabilities: Project PEER (Post-secondary education, employment and research) and Aggies Elevated.

The report also made recommendations for improvements throughout the state.

To download an electronic version of the report, click here.

To visit the Disability Law Center web site, click here.


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Transition Institute supports youth with disabilities

March 24, 2015 by Sue Reeves

Images of Mendenhall and Wilson.

Kim Mendenhall (left) and Emily Wilson.

The third annual Utah Transition Institute was held at Davis Conference Center in Layton in February with more than 150 attendees from 40 local education agencies (LEAs).  The Institute was planned by Kim Mendenhall and Emily Wilson, instructional coaches/implementation specialists for the Utah Professional Development Network. UPDN is a program of the Center for Technical Assistance for Excellence in Special education at Utah State University’s Center for Persons with Disabilities.

Participants from LEAs gathered to focus on outcomes from Utah’s current State Strategic Transition Plan for youth with disabilities ages 16-24. The outcomes include: 1) Supporting youth in their postsecondary goals, particularly linguistically and culturally diverse youth, 2) Ensuring consistent transition team procedures across the state, and 3) Ensuring all team members have knowledge of their roles and responsibilities and can effectively execute them into student transition planning.

“It truly was exciting to see the fire ignite within these LEA teams,” Wilson said. “The major intent of the institute was to affect student outcomes in the area of transition from secondary to post-secondary experiences–I think this event allowed the participating LEA transition teams to plan for that end.

Topics discussed during the three-day event included an overview of what is happening with transition nationally, transition and adult services, implementation science and transition planning, IEP development and compliance, and a college readiness panel. Sarah Bodily, director of Aggies Elevated at USU, participated in the college readiness panel.

“Working with stakeholders nationally and locally for the purpose of improving outcomes for students with disabilities towards college/career readiness and independent living was an amazing experience,” Mendenhall said. She and Wilson shared anonymous comments from participants.

“I feel much more focused and less overwhelmed with the whole transition process. I am really excited at what can be accomplished!”

“Getting materials and resources to help us in our quest to improve transition at our school.”

“The dedicated time to reflect on my data and work on an aspect of it to create a plan.”


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Youth challenged to find their strengths

June 14, 2013 by Sue Reeves

Image of Todd Christensen making a presentation.

Motivational speaker and leadership trainer Todd Christensen speaks to the participant of the first-ever leadership conference for youth with disabilities.

Motivational speaker and leadership trainer Todd Christensen challenged the participants of a new leadership conference for youth with disabilities to “Look at your strengths … remember who you are. Be true to yourself. If you find something you are passionate about, you will make a difference.”

Christensen spoke to the youth and their group leaders earlier this week at a conference coordinated in part by Jeff Sheen of Utah State University’s Center for Persons with Disabilities. Sheen is a training and development specialist and program coordinator at the CPD.

Christensen asked the 10 young men and women, who were participants in youth groups sponsored by Centers for Independent Living around the state of Utah, to define what makes a leader. Their responses included: “Always directing a cause,” “showing you can be a leader and not a follower,” “a person who’s not afraid to be themselves,” “a person who stands up for themselves or someone else,” “someone who doesn’t care what people think—they know what’s right,” “someone who is willing to learn or always learning,” “humble,” and “someone who is willing to listen and understand people.”

During the two-hour session, Christensen led the students through several exercises meant to help them define the concept of leadership, how the principles of leadership could be applied to their own lives, and the importance of moving outside of one’s comfort zone.

“What kind of life do you live if you’re not willing to step up and take risks and stand up for something?” he asked. “You’re a zombie … Great leaders crash and burn, but they live life and they make others’ lives better.”

Christensen said that the only thing necessary to be a leader is to have a follower, but a leader has to be someone that people want to follow. Leadership is not intimidation, he said, but about building relationships and visualizing the future.

“A lot of people will talk leadership,” he said. “But you have to decide: who is the kind of leader you’d like to follow? Who is the kind of leader you’d like to be?”

He quoted a survey in which 88 percent of the respondents said honesty was the most important attribute in a leader, followed by forward-looking at 71 percent, competent at 66 percent and inspiring at 65 percent.

“If you’re not honest, how can you inspire people to follow you?” he asked.

Christensen said the seven keys to success as a leader are passion for your cause, belief in yourself and your product or service, energy, strategy, the ability to build rapport, communication, and 100 percent commitment.

“A leader needs to be passionate,” he said. “Managers are appointed, but leaders are chosen by their constituents … The followers, the constituents, make the leader want to be a better leader. You are leaders, you just don’t know it yet.”

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New training projects funded in Utah

August 25, 2012 by cpehrson

In order to improve the lives of people with disabilities,  the Interagency Outreach Training Initiative (IOTI) funds training projects for consumers and agency personnel.  The focus is on gaps in training that is already offered in Utah so that it can support areas that have critical needs.  A Steering Council determines which proposals will be funded each year.  Since 1995, the CPD has coordinated the funding which comes from the Utah State Legislature for training in Utah.  IOTI has funded more than 100 projects conducted by over 30 public and private agencies and organizations through the years.

There were eight new IOTI training grants funded for 2012-2013:

  1. Adult Services/Transition: Will provide training to key personnel who work with youth with psychiatric disorders who are transitioning to postsecondary education.
  2. Bullying and Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports: The Utah Parent Center will provide web-based information and training on PBIS and Bullying, as well as provide workshops for parents/families of children and youth with disabilities, and other providers who work with them.
  3. Equity and Access to Judicial Services:  Will provide training and online information to  judicial staff on IDEA requirements for people with disabilities to help reduce the barriers they find within the judicial system.                                                                                                   
  4. Family Preservation through Positive Behavior Supports:  Will provide training to parents to help them manage difficult behaviors in their children with disabilities  by using Positive Behavior Supports.
  5. Provider Education:  Will provide training to staff within public agencies who work directly with individuals with severe and persistent disabilities/brain disorders about mental illness and the resources and services available to individuals and families.
  6. Supported Employment and Job-based Training: Will provide online and direct training to paraprofessionals to certify as job coaches in supported employment of adults with disabilities.
  7. Transition to Adult Life:  The Utah Parent Center will train young adults with disabilities and their families, disability organizations and special educators about resources related to transitioning  into employment situations and understanding issues related to maturation.
  8. Guardianship Training:  Will train families with children and adults with disabilities about the process of guardianship and how to attain it

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Let’s Talk! about health care transition for young adults

September 2, 2011 by cpehrson

There is a great blog written by CPD’s Jeff Sheen about transition topics for youth with developmental disabilities.  The blog is sponsored by the New Community Opportunities Center, a training and technical assistance program of the Independent Living Research Utilization organization (ILRU).

The latest CIL Transition blog is about just that–young adults transitioning from pediatric health care to adult health care services.  Youth, and their parents, often have strong ties with their pediatric caregiver and are reluctant to transfer to another doctor when they are older.

Today’s Let’s Talk topic is addressing the benefits and challenges that come when youth need to transition to an adult health care provider.

What challenges did you face when you transitioned from pediatric to adult health care?

What benefits have you found by having an adult health care provider?

What advice would you give to a young adult and their parents who are needing to move to an adult health care provider?

We would love to have you share your experiences with our readers!

Ready, set, Let’s Talk!

Let us know of other topics that you would like to talk about on the Let’s Talk! blog.

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