Opportunities – February 2020

SPECIAL EVENTS Research dinner on mental illnesses NAMI Minnesota (National Alliance on Mental Illness) and the University of Minnesota will […]


Research dinner on mental illnesses

NAMI Minnesota (National Alliance on Mental Illness) and the University of Minnesota will host the 17th Annual Research Dinner Wed, Feb. 26 at Delta Hotels by Marriott Mpls Northeast, 1330 Industrial Blvd. NE, Mpls. Tickets can now be purchased. Researchers from the University of Minnesota will present findings on how can positive psychology interventions benefit treatment for first episode psychosis, psychosis across the lifespan, and engineering brain networks to treat mental health disorders. The event is approved for 1.5 CEUs by the Minnesota Board of Social Work. Seating begins at 5:30 p.m. Dinner and program starts at 6 p.m. FFI: 651-645-2948.

Retirement celebration

A man who has helped many people with disabilities find employment is retiring. Steve Kuntz, the 2010 Access Press Charlie Smith Award winner, has worked at Goodwill/Easter Seals and TBI Metro Services (for what is now Opportunity Partners). He is currently a program specialist in rehabilitation services in the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), working out of the North Minneapolis office. He will be honored 1-4 p.m. Tuesday, March 3 at CareerForce Minneapolis North, 800 W. Broadway Ave., Mpls. A program is planned at 2 p.m. All are welcome. FFI: Chris McVey, [email protected] 

ADVOCACY Networking and support

The Autism Society of Minnesota (AuSM) Professional Networking Group meetings bring together mental health professionals who provide support to individuals on the autism spectrum together to learn. Each meeting will focus on a topic, such as therapeutic alliance, support services, or other problem-solving challenges. An AuSM counseling and consulting services staff member will present a case example and then facilitate an open group discussion for sharing relevant cases. Troubleshoot challenges and learn from other professionals. All meetings are held from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at AuSM’s office, 2380 Wycliff St. #102, St. Paul. Upcoming dates include March 23. RSVP. FFI: [email protected], 651-647-1083 


Autism web portal is updated

A new look and a new navigational feel are features of the Minnesota Autism Resource Portal. The redesigned site will better equip communities, parents, self-advocates and professionals with information and tools about Autism Spectrum Disorder and its impact on family life, education and work in Minnesota. Key portal features include a resource map showing locations of ASD evaluation and intervention providers throughout Minnesota; videos that raise awareness and understanding of ASD and services available, including real Minnesota families from African American, American Indian, Hmong, Latino and Somali communities talking about their journeys from receiving a diagnosis to accessing services and supports and a resource list with links to topics such as health care, screening and diagnosis, research, intervention services and other supports. The site is part of a joint effort by multiple state agencies (the Minnesota Departments of Human Services, Education, Health, and Employment and Economic Development). The Institute on Community Integration at the University of Minnesota is a key partner, along with the Minnesota Department of Information Technology.

Family course on mental illnesses

NAMI Minnesota (National Alliance on Mental Illness) offers a free educational course that helps families gain a greater understanding of mental illness, discuss resources, build communication skills, reduce stress and find support. More than 4,000 Minnesota families have benefited from this course. Join others for this series taught by family members who have walked the walk. The Family-to-Family course meets weekly for eight weeks on Tues, 6-8:30 p.m. Feb. 18 to April 7, at Bethlehem Lutheran Church, 4100 Lyndale Ave S., Mpls. Preregistration required. FFI: Bruce, 307-250-0211

Apply for Project KITE

Project KITE is a series of five free workshops that travels to Minnesota locations. These workshops bring together education professionals and the parents of children with whom they work. Through collaborative trainings, teams learn about assistive technology designed to enhance learning and increase inclusion of students with disabilities. Three separate teams with three members per team are needed to make a complete application. Teams must be from a similar geographic area. Each single team is built around a focus child (aged 3-8) and consists of a parent of a child with special needs, a classroom teacher and a related service provider working with the child. Service providers can include special education teachers, paraprofessionals, speech therapists, occupational therapists and others. Each team member must apply individual. Deadline is Sat, Feb. 22. FFI: 952-838-9000.

PACER workshop sampling

PACER Center offers many useful free or low-cost workshops and other resources for families of children with any disabilities. Workshops are at PACER Center, 8161 Normandale Blvd., Bloomington, unless specified. Workshops are offered throughout the state, with some workshops available online. Advance registration is required for all workshops. At least 48 hours’ notice is needed for interpretation. Many workshops are live-streamed. Check out PACER’s website and link to the newsletter of statewide workshops that allows participants to pick and choose sessions designed for their needs. FFI: 952-838-9000, www.pacer.org

  • Housing: Starting the Journey: How do we start? (Step 1) is 6:30-9 p.m. Tue, Feb. 18 at PACER Center. Help adult children get started with their vision for community living, housing, and services. An overview of housing and service options will be provided. Registration recommended for all three workshops in the Housing: Starting the Journey series (Tue 2/18, Mon 3/2, Mon 3/16).
  • An Exploration of Augmentative and Alternative Communication Devices and Tools is 2-3:30 p.m. Tue, Feb. 18 at PACER Center. Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) tools can help individuals express thoughts, wants, needs and more. The workshop will introduce AAC and explore the range of AAC tools available.
  • ‘Appy Hour’: Apps that Support Independence for Vision Loss is 3-4 p.m. Wed, Feb 19 at PACER Center. The workshop will provide an overview of apps that support independence for individuals who are blind or low vision.
  • The ABCs of the IEP: Making the Individualized Education Program (IEP) Work for Your Child is 6:30-8:30 a.m. Tue, Feb. 25. The workshop will help parents understand how to use the Individualized Education Program (IEP) to benefit a child. Participants use a PACER booklet to understand how each required part of the IEP can be developed to meet the child’s needs. Parents will gain knowledge about how to participate effectively in the annual IEP meeting. To participate in the workshop, parents will need to bring a copy of their child’s most recent school special education evaluation report, and their child’s current IEP. In Duluth.


Autism social group for Ages 15+

Reach for Resources offers a social program, Social Seekers, for individuals (ages 15+) on the autism spectrum. Social Seekers activities include games, crafts, discussions, outdoor recreation, and other opportunities for socializing. The program is designed to build group cohesion, sustain friendships, and provide gentle verbal redirection when needed to assist individuals with issues surrounding conflict, assertiveness, boundaries, and more. The next session will run on Wednesdays, 5:00-6:30 p.m., from March 25-May 27, but participants can join at any time with advance registration and a required intake. The group meets at the Depot in Hopkins, and cost is $205 for the 10 weeks. FFI: 952-393-4277. . 


MCIL hosts classes and activities

The Metropolitan Center for Independent Living provides many life skills classes as well as fun outings and events for people with disabilities. MCIL is at 530 N. Robert Street, St Paul and most activities are there or start there. Classes and events are listed on the website. Click on “Classes Groups and Sessions” for updated information or to print their calendar. Please give two weeks’ notice if the alternative format or other accommodations are needed. Events are free, accessible and mostly scent-free. FFI: 651-603-2030

Classes and support in Sauk Rapids

Independent Lifestyles, Inc., 215 N. Benton Dr., Sauk Rapids, offers many groups and classes, for free or a small fee. These include advocates for independence, post-polio and Parkinson’s support groups, and sports including bowling. Advocates for Independence meets 2-4 p.m. the first and third Wed of each month. Make a difference in the community for people with disabilities. Increase leadership, assertiveness and communications skills. Become a better advocate and have fun. People of all abilities are welcome. FFI: Michele Pelka, 320-281-2042. Learn self-defense and improve fitness with adapted martial arts and Tae Guk Known Do. Wear loose clothing and bring a bottle of water. The classes are on Fridays unless there is a holiday. Scott Ridlon is instructor. FFI: 320-267-7717, 320- 281-2042

Mental health support offered

NAMI Minnesota offers more than 500 free educational classes and presentations statewide each year, along with help in navigating the mental health system. NAMI also has more than 70 free support groups for people living with a mental illness and their families. In the Twin Cities NAMI has about two dozen family support groups, more than 20 support groups for people living with a mental illness, anxiety support groups, groups for veterans and other groups. Led by trained facilitators, groups provide help and support.

  • Parent resource groups are facilitated by a parent who has a child with a mental illness and who has been trained to lead support groups. A group meets 6:30-8 p.m. on the second and fourth Monday at Eagle Brook Church, 2401 East Buffalo St., White Bear Lake. FFI: Jody Lyons 651-645-2948 x109.
  • Family support groups help families who have a relative with a mental illness. A group meets at 6:30 p.m. the second and fourth Wed at Centennial United Methodist Church, 1524 Co. Rd. C-2 West, Roseville. FFI: Anne Mae. 651-484-0599.
  • Open Door Anxiety and Panic support groups help people cope with anxiety disorders. One group meets 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. the second and fourth Thu in Room 104, Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, 700 Snelling Ave. S., St. Paul. Another group meets 6:30-8 p.m. the first and third Thu at Woodland Hills Church, 1740 Van Dyke St., St. Paul.
  • A peer support group is offered for LGBTQ adults living with a mental illness. The group meets 1-2:30 p.m. Sat, Living Table United Church of Christ, 3805 E. 40th St, Mpls. FFI: David, 612-920-3925, 651-645-2948.
  • Young Adult NAMI Connection is a free support group for persons ages 16-20. One group meets 7-8:30 the first and third Thu at Friends Meeting House, 1725 Grand Ave., St. Paul. A group also meets 7-8:30 p.m. on the first and third Thursdays at the dental office of Dr. Crandall & Associates, 2300 E. Highway 96, White Bear Lake. The group is facilitated by young adults who live with mental illnesses and are doing well in recovery.

A full calendar of all events is offered online. FFI: 651- 645-2948.

Vision loss group offers activities

Vision Loss Resources provides free and low-cost activities in the Twin Cities for people who are blind or visually impaired. Check out the newly redone website, accessible on smartphones, tablets, and laptops. Life skills classes for those with low vision; card games, craft classes, book clubs, walking groups, dinners out, special outings and technology classes are among the offerings. Participants need to RVSP to participate, at least three working days prior to an event. The calendar is also available on the Vision Loss Resources website and as a printable large-print PDF document for those who wish to print their own or additional copies. FFI: RSVP hotline, 612-843-3439; activity line and audio calendar,  

  • Work with your care provider to stay healthy. Protect yourself. Vaccines are your best protection against being sick.
  • Wash your hands! Hands that look can still have icky germs!

You are not alone. Minnesota Autism Resource Portal.