Council-Sponsored Grant Activities
Partners in Policymaking Class 36
September 21–22, 2018 was the first weekend session for Class 36 Partners in Policymaking. Thirty-five individuals – 11 self advocates and 24 parents (four individuals from racial/ethnic minority communities) are participating in this year's leadership training program.
Inclusive Education was the theme and focus for the second weekend session on October 12–13, 2018. Participants learned and applied the concepts and principles of best practices in schools and all leaning environments, and the rules of civil discourse in difficult conversations and meetings.
The weekend of November 16–17, 2018 highlighted the County Role in Developmental Disabilities, the purpose and functions of local government, and meetings with County Commissioners to begin the process of establishing partnerships with elected officials.
The weekend of January 11–12, 2019 highlighted Living – the full range of types of housing that are available and financing options, and Supported and Customized Employment – emphasizing that "everyone can work."
The weekend of February 8–9, 2019 introduced participants to the concept of Community Organizing and small group work that focused on Minnesota's Olmstead Plan – why the Plan is important, Plan goals and strategies, and preparing and presenting testimony to support or strengthen amendments to the Plan.
This year's State Legislative weekend session was on March 17–18, 2019. An overview of the legislative process; an introduction to bill reading, and preparing and presenting testimony during mock hearings filled much of the first day. The opportunity to transfer that classroom learning followed the next day as participants met with their state legislators, sharing personal stories about policy issues as well as proposed legislation, and enjoyed a tour of our State Capitol.
The weekend of April 12–13, 2019 focused on the federal level of government – an overview of the role and function of the three branches of our government, the budget making process and appropriations, and major policy issues of national concern that affect individuals with developmental disabilities and their families. Participants also met with Congressional staff to discuss these issues and those aspects of proposed legislation that can lead to greater inclusion and community integration.
The weekend of May 17-18, 2019 brought to a close Partners in Policymaking Class 36, highlighting the role of the Federal Court in disability issues with US District Court Judge Donovan Frank; and hearing the personal perspectives about public policy issues from US Senator Durenberger and Susan Foote through readings of books they each released in 2018. The weekend also featured a new approach for responding to life changes and challenges – "Top 20 Thinking and Bottom 20 Thinking."
Cultural Outreach Program in the Somali Community
The Cultural Outreach Program in the Somali community had a very successful first training program year with 18 graduates. HAARAN is continuing to coordinate and carry out this program for the second year. Twenty-one individuals were recruited from Nicollet and Blue Earth counties. Training sessions are again being held in St. Peter, Minnesota where HAARAN is located. The first session was held on January 9, 2019.
Self Advocacy – Ambassadors for Respect Anti-Bullying Campaign
The Ambassadors for Respect Anti-Bully Campaign is beginning a new phase in order to both replicate and expand the program, making it available to other schools and many other students. In the Spring of 2017, the replication process began and the Ambassadors for Respect Handbook was created.
The Handbook was designed to reflect the spirit and intent of the anti-bullying program, inspired by four self advocates who had experienced bullying. Under the guidance and support of Colleen Timbers, the program was first introduced in 2013 in three elementary schools in the Northeast Metro area, reaching 330 students. Over four years, 10 additional schools waned to participate and thus the program grew.
The Handbook begins by addressing the problem of bullying, the incidence among school age children generally and the even greater incidence among students with disabilities. The Handbook is intended to serve as a guide, incorporating information and tips on how to develop presentations, and provide the support and assistance to transition students, the next generation of Ambassadors for Respect, as they develop and strengthen their teaching and leadership skills in the classroom with fourth grade elementary school students.
In 2018, PeaceMaker Minnesota created content for the training sessions and developed a replication plan. PeaceMaker schools and Board members, transition programs, staff from participating schools, and individuals who had requested copies of the Handbook were invited to provide input into the replication process. That was the basis for launching this next phase, building on what was learned in those early years.
The first training session was held at Otter Lake Elementary School on March 22, 2019 with four teachers and 110 students participating.
During the month of April, ten training sessions were held at six elementary schools. A total of 465 students and 15 teachers participated. Ambassadors for Respect from Merrick (Roseville and White Bear Lake School Districts), The Next Step Transition Program (North St. Paul – Maplewood-Oakdale School District), and Transition Plus (Minneapolis School District) presented the training sessions. All received very positive comments and all sessions received high evaluation scores for the presentations.
The Discovery Process serves as a person centered planning tool, a strategy for learning about a person's interests and talents, and the skills that he/she would bring to the workplace. Each person's school, volunteer, and past work experiences are important in identifying vocational themes to create a match between a field of work and the job seeker's areas of interest. This is a process that builds on personal strengths and abilities and, through informational interviews, offers the opportunity to learn what a specific job before deciding if a match would be a good one.
In 2018, twelve adults found employment through the discovery process in jobs of their choosing. They worked between eight and 23 hours per week, earning between $9.65 and $ 15.00 per hour. Four transition students found competitive jobs, one student had a paid work experience while he was in school, five students worked through a modified discovery process, and four students completed postsecondary education classes.