Opportunities – February 2022

Advocate  Attend rally days  The Minnesota Legislature is in session so it’s time to sign up for rallies and events. […]

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Attend rally days 

The Minnesota Legislature is in session so it’s time to sign up for rallies and events. In 2022 the events will again be virtual. Some events will be on Facebook as well as live-streamed so check with sponsoring groups.

 Disability Advocacy Day is Tue, Feb. 22, with several groups leading organizing efforts. A virtual poster gallery will be from 10 -11:00 a.m. The virtual rally is 11-11:45 a. m. An in-depth policy Lunch & Learn is noon-1:30 p.m. Preregister at https://bit.ly/3zvtkow. Keep the email response after registration as that is needed to log into the event. FFI: Grace Seifert, [email protected] 

Mental Health Day on the Hill is Thu, Feb. 24, and includes policy updates and a chance to meet with lawmakers. FFI: https://mentalhealthmn.org/events/mental-health-day-on-the-hill/ 

Disability Services Day is Tue, March 8, led by ARRM and MOHR. The day includes a policy briefing, 10 a.m. rally, and meetings with lawmakers. FFI: https://www.arrm.org/arrmevents/day-at-capitol 

Minnesota Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities offers regular policy updates and events. FFI: https://www.mnccd.org/ 

Virtual information offered 

The Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund’s TypeOneNation summit set for Sat, Feb. 19 will be postponed. Organizers had hoped for an in-person event and will look at a spring or summer date instead. The JDRF’s National Virtual TypeOneNation Summit will launch on March 3, offering educational sessions each month throughout the year. It covers topics including research, mental health, exercise, and nutrition. FFI: https://www.jdrf.org/minnesotadakotas/ 

Children and families 

Launch Project KITE  

PACER Center’s Project KITE is a series of five free virtual workshops that brings 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 KITE group. Teams must be from Minnesota. 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. Each team member must apply individually. Applications for Spring 2022 teams are due by Feb. 22. 

During Project KITE, teams of parents and professionals learn and work together to discover and trial assistive technology that can benefit their child, student, and the classroom. 

Project KITE includes the loan of an iPad loaded with useful learning and communication apps for the duration of the program (one iPad per team), free year-long membership to the PACER Simon Technology Center assistive technology lending library (all participants) 

Useful technology training with a PACER assistive technology specialist and ongoing support. 

FFI: www.pacer.org/stc/kite 

PACER workshops sampling 

PACER Center offers many useful free or low-cost workshops and other resources for families of children with any disabilities. Workshops are online and live-streamed at this time. Advance registration is required for all workshops. At least 48 hours notice is needed for interpretation. 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. 

Social Security Disability: Qualifying for Benefits is 1-2:30 p.m. Thu, Feb. 1. Learn how the Social Security Administration makes eligibility decisions, what is needed for the application, and a review of the appeal process. Co-sponsored by MN Disability Determination Services 

Tools to Help Your Child De-Stress is 6:30-7:30 p.m. Thu, Feb. 10. Learn about tools that can help children deal with stressors related to school, friends, and life. This information is relevant for all children, as well as those with a mental health diagnosis. 

Back on Track for School Success: Mental Health and Education is noon – 1:10 p.m. Thu, Feb. 10. Many children and youth experienced challenges managing their mental health and emotional wellness during the past school year. The webinar will provide parents and others with information and strategies for supporting school success when mental health impacts learning. It is a broadcasting of a previously recorded workshop. 

Tech for Girls Club: Creative Coding: Using Code to Make Art is 10-11 a.m. Sat, Feb. 12. Use coding to do many things, even make art. Join the virtual workshop and use TurtleArt coding to create works of art and share them. 

Lunch & Learn: All About Switches is noon-1 p.m. Wed, Feb. 16. Switches can help individuals with disabilities control devices such as toys, computers, tablets, or communication devices. The workshop will cover different types of switches, switch interfaces, and matching switches to needs. 

Working Toward Positive Educational Outcomes: Mental Health and Special Education is 6:30-8 p.m. Thu, Feb. 24. The workshop will provide parents and others with information to help prepare for a positive IEP team approach to supporting a child’s mental health needs in school and during distance learning. Funded in part by a grant from the Minnesota Department of Education. FFI: PACER, 952-838-9000, 800-537-2237, www.pacer.org

Info & Assistance

Can Do Canines open house 

Can Do Canines hosts an open house noon-2 p.m. Sat, Feb. 5 at its Can Do Canines campus (9440 Science Center Drive, New Hope, Minn.). Potential clients, volunteers or anyone who might be interested in supporting the organization is invited to attend to learn how an assistance dog changes the life of a person with a disability. Through a self-guided tour, attendees will be able to watch a trainer working with an assistance dog, talk with a Puppy Program volunteer, and meet graduate teams from each of the five types of areas Can Do Canines trains dogs: hearing, mobility, seizure, diabetes and childhood autism. Preregistration isn’t required. FFI: www.candocanines.org 

Online and in-person groups offered in suburbs 

NAMI Minnesota (National Alliance on Mental Illness) sponsors free support groups for families and friends of individuals living with a mental illness. Groups are offered virtually and in person. Led by trained facilitators who also have a family member with mental illness, the support groups help families develop better coping skills and find strength through sharing their experiences. An online Washington County support group meets on the second and fourth Wed of each month, from 6:30-8:00 p.m. FFI: Dan, 612-341-8918. 

NAMI also offers an in-person family support group that meets on the first and third Mon of each month,  from 6:30-8:00 p.m., at the Bayport Public Library, 582 4th St. N., Bayport. Group members are required to wear masks and follow COVID-19 protocols.  

A support group is offered in West St. Paul for families and friends of individuals living with a mental illness. The group meets 6:30-8 p.m. second and fourth Mon at Augustana Lutheran Church, 1400 S. Robert St. Group members are required to be vaccinated, wear masks and follow COVID-19 protocols. FFI: Joanne, 651-815-9556.  

A support group is offered in Eden Prairie for families and friends of individuals living with a mental illness. The group meets 6:30-8 p.m. second and fourth Thu at St. Andrews Lutheran, 13600 Technology Dr., Room 207A. Group members are required to be vaccinated, wear masks and follow COVID-19 protocols. FFI: Carol, 518-331-8099, or [email protected]. FFI: www.nami.org 

New website announced 

The System of Technology to Achieve Results (STAR) Program has a new website for its library of loanable devices. Visit Minnesota Assistive Technology for All (MNAT4ALL) at https://mn.at4all.com/ and check out the new database. The STAR Program team has developed a site which features images of devices and links to manufacturer websites. MNAT4ALL allow users to create their own account, track the history of items they have borrowed, request loans, request demonstrations, and complete surveys. Feedback is sought on the new database. FFI: 651-201-2640; 1-888-234-1267; MN Relay: 711 or toll free at 800-627-3529 

Centers for independent living statewide 

Minnesota centers for independent living statewide have gone to more in-person operations. Typically centers offer an array of classes, training programs and other services tied to independent living. Centers that proving PCA, homemaker and other staffing for clients continue to do that in person. Check with a local center for open hours. FFI: www.macil.org/ 

Classes offered online 

NAMI Minnesota (National Alliance on Mental Illness) has set up a wide variety of free online mental health classes. Choices include Hope for Recovery, Transitions, Ending the Silence, Understanding Early Episode Psychosis for Families, In Our Own Voice, Family to Family, Positive Psychology, Creating Caring Communities, a suicide prevention class called QPR – Question, Persuade and Refer, a special QPR class for Agricultural Communities and many more. 

The classes are designed for family members and caregivers, persons living with a mental illness, service providers, and also the general public. Find a complete listing of these classes and how to join in by going to namimn.org and clicking on “Classes” or go straight to https://namimn.org/education-public-awareness/classes/scheduled/ 

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