Council-Sponsored Grant Activities
Partners in Policymaking Class 37
September 13 - 14, 2019, the kickoff weekend session for Class 37 Partners in Policymaking, was the start of another classroom program year. Thirty-five individuals – 10 self advocates, 23 parents, and two self advocates who are also parents, including six participants from racial/ethnic 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 learning environments, and the rules of civil discourse in difficult conversations and meetings.
The November 15 – 16, 2019 weekend session covered county services, and gave participants the opportunity to learn and practice their communication skills in small group meetings with county commissioners. Participants shared personal stories of their successful experiences with accessing programs and services; the many challenges, difficulties, and delays in getting individual and family needs met; and their vision for the year 2030.
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.
During the month of May, 13 training sessions were held at nine elementary schools. A total of 454 students and 17 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 their 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.