Council-Sponsored Grant Activities
Partners in Policymaking Class 35
September 15 - 16, 2017 was the first weekend session for Class 35 Partners in Policymaking. Thirty-five individuals – 16 self advocates, 17 parents, and 2 self advocates who are also parents (four individuals are racial/ethnic minority communities) are participating in this year’s leadership training program.
The weekend of October 13 - 14, 2017 was devoted to Inclusive Education. Participants were introduced to the history of education for students with disabilities; the meaning of "inclusion" in school and community, and some practical curriculum adaptations to better support learners in the classroom.
The weekend of November 17 – 18, 2017 was devoted to the county’s role in developmental disabilities; creating vision statements for 2025; and meeting with county commissioners to share what’s working and not working in terms of services and supports, with ideas for making system improvements.
The weekend of January 12 – 13, 2018 covered Housing, and Supported and Customized Employment. Through a Real Colors training exercise, participants identified the values that are important to them and characteristics that contribute to their personal leadership styles.
A portion of the February 16 – 17, 2018 weekend addressed Community Organizing, in the context of Minnesota's Olmstead Plan, and how to prepare and present testimony on proposed Plan amendments. An introduction to Parliamentary Procedure and how to work with the Media were also covered.
The weekend of March 18-19, 2018 focused on the state legislative process and policy issues that are the responsibility of our state legislators to address. Participants met with their legislators and a State Capitol Tour was arranged. The role and purpose of Parliamentary Procedure in conducting meetings, and working effectively with the media were also covered.
The weekend of April 13-14, 2018 highlighted federal issues, the role of the federal government, and proposed legislation on disability issues with a broader, national, impact on individuals with developmental disabilities and their families. The weekend was shortened to the Friday afternoon session only due to a winter storm and very adverse weather conditions.
The weekend of May 18-19, 2018 was graduation weekend for Partners Class 35. United States District Court Judge Donovan Frank talked about the court's role in addressing disability issues. Participants learned about narrative research, a story telling approach, that focused on health care issues and experiences. In bringing the year to a close, a panel of Partners graduates shared their experiences since graduation and Class 35 participants offered testimonials about what the program has meant to them.
Cultural Outreach Program in the Somali Community
Since 1992, a cultural outreach and leadership training program was offered in the African American community. Most participants were residents of Hennepin County and training sessions were held in North Minneapolis.
In 2017, the cultural outreach program was introduced to the Somali community. The Horn of Africa Aid and Rehabilitation Network (HAARAN) is carrying out the program. Participants are residents of Nicollet and Mankato counties and training sessions are held in St. Peter, Minnesota where HAARAN is located.
Many of the residents in this part of the state resettled to the United States from refugee camps in the five countries that comprise the Horn of Africa. They all bring their cultural and religious beliefs, customs and practices here; and all inform the new knowledge, awareness, and understanding of the services and supports that are available for parents with children with developmental disabilities and adults with disabilities.
In their homeland, children with disabilities had no access to services or care, parents were shunned, and may not have been allowed to participate in community life. In contrast, the knowledge they are gaining and skills they are learning in the training sessions are providing them and their children with a quality of life that before they had not known.
Abdi Matan, President of HAARAN, is recognized and respected as a leader in his community. He founded HARAAN in 2008 in Maine to bring knowledge about disabilities and disability services to refugees. In 2014, he came to Minnesota and brought his organization to St. Peter, Minnesota. He is dedicated and committed to serve the Somali community, and carry out programs that will change attitudes and the lives of individuals with disabilities and their families. Together with Christina Feller, he is helping to coordinate this cultural outreach program and serve as interpreter.
Twenty individuals were recruited to participate in the Cultural Outreach Program. On October 27 – 29, 2017, the first three training sessions were held.
Self Advocacy – Ambassadors for Respect Anti-Bullying Campaign
The Anti-Bullying Campaign began a new project year in early February 2017 with the Ambassadors for Respect preparing classroom kits for the 13 schools that will be participating this year.
Returning schools include Cowern, Richardson, and Parkview Center (North St. Paul); Willow Lane, Otter Lake, Vadnais Heights, and Matoska International (White Bear Lake); St. John the Baptist (New Brighton); Little Canada (Little Canada); Brimhall (Roseville); and Harambee Cultural Communities and Environmental Science School. A new partnership has begun with Bruce Vento Elementary School in St. Paul.
St. John the Baptist in New Brighton is the first school to receive PeaceMaker Foundation funding.
The first training sessions were held at Richardson Elementary School on February 13, 2017 followed a week later with training sessions at Willow Lane.
Seven Ambassadors for Respect, including one self advocate who will be a first time teacher/trainer, will rotate through the participating schools during this project year.
On February 13, 2017, three sessions were held at Richardson Elementary School with a total of 92 students and four teachers.
On February 20, 2017, three sessions were held at Willow Lane Elementary School with a total of 84 students and three teachers.
On March 13, 2017, three sessions were held at Matoska International School with a total of 81 students and three teachers.
On March 30, 2017, four sessions were held at Little Canada Elementary School; a total of 98 students and three teachers participated.
On April 13, 2017, three sessions were held at Vadnais Heights Elementary School; a total of 81 students and four teachers participated.
On April 20, 2017, three sessions were held at Parkview Elementary School with a total of 84 students and six teachers.
On May 5, 2017, two sessions were held at St. John’s Elementary School; a total of 56 students and three teachers participated.
On May 11, 2017, two sessions were held at Birch Lake Elementary School; a total of 62 students and three teachers participated.
The Discovery Process is a tool, an information gathering strategy, that involves seven stages of learning about an individual's interest and skills to better match with employment opportunities, or shape job possibilities that will be successful and productive for the individual.
During 2017, Mounds View Life Training Transition Program and North St. Paul's Next step Transition Program completed initial work with students using a modified discovery process. That work is continuing in 2018 resulting in students finding jobs that are in keeping with person centered planning principles.
On Eagle's Wings
Cultural Outreach Program in the African American Community
A cultural outreach and leadership training program has been offered in the African American Community since 1992. The original intent remains – providing outreach services to minority parents; personal support; and a training program that gives participants resource information about available programs and services, teaches beginning leadership and communication skills to work effectively with their elected public officials, and introduces the concepts of the Partners program.