Opportunities - January 2022

Advocate 

2022 virtual legislative forum 

The Minnesota Council on Disability 2022 Legislative Forum is noon-2 p.m. Thu, Jan. 13. Disability advocates will interact with state officials via Zoom. The 2022 Virtual Legislative Forum is an opportunity for the council to present priorities for the 2022 legislative session.  

MCD is looking for people to share stories related to its 2022 legislative agenda items. Review the public policy agenda online and visit the council’s events page for more information. Stories cannot be taken on the day of the forum so plan in advance. FFI: https://www.disability.state.mn.us/events/ 

Apply to serve the state 

Many state boards, commissions and committees actively seek members with disabilities, to bring lived experience to the table when policies, budgets and programs take shape. Groups work on issues focused on specific disabilities or aspects of everyday life. The Minnesota Olmstead Plan office has information on groups that seek members, at https://mn.gov/olmstead/ Or check the Minnesota Secretary of State’s website. FFI: https://www.sos.state.mn.us/boards-commissions/ 

Children and families 

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. 

Effective Communication with the IEP Team is noon-1:30 p.m. Mon, Jan. 10. Parents will gain tips to become comfortable speaking up to share ideas, ask questions, and voice concerns or objections to what the school is proposing, and overall, building more effective communication skills with a child’s IEP team.

Special Education: What Do I Need to Know is 6:30-8:30 p.m. Tue, Jan. 11. Parents will gain an understanding of special education, how to resolve disagreements, and discover the role of parents in the process.

Uncovering the Mysteries of VRS and Work is 1-2:30 p.m. Thu, January 13. Learn about rights to services from Vocational Rehabilitation Services (VRS) and State Services for the Blind (SSB). Information will be presented about the Minnesota Disability Law Center’s Client Assistance Project. Co-sponsored by the Minnesota Disability Law Center

Tech for Teens Club: Building Websites is 10-11:30 a.m. Sat, Jan. 15. The workshop will introduce teens with disabilities to a method of designing websites using the free online tool at Weebly.com. Students will learn how to use template designs and insert small amounts of code to customize and publish their own websites online. This is an extension of the coding websites workshop but past attendance isn’t required. FFI: PACER, 952-838-9000, 800-537-2237, www.pacer.org

Info & Assistance 

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.  

Starting Mon, Jan. 10, a support group will be 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.  

Starting Thu, Jan. 13, a support group will be 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 crwebster45@gmail.com. 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 

Online mental health support 

NAMI Minnesota (National Alliance on Mental Illness) offers a variety of free online peer support groups for adults and young adults living with a mental illness, their families, friends, spouses/partners, as well as parents of children and teens. Led by trained peer facilitators, the support groups help individuals and families learn coping skills and find strength through sharing their experiences. The groups are specifically for those individuals suggested by the group’s title. For example, Family Support Group is only for family members and NAMI Connection is only for those who live with a mental illness and are over 18 years old, etc. 

Three new groups are offered: 

BIPOC Connections Support Group: A peer-led support group for people in BIPOC (Black, indigenous, people of color) communities who live with mental illness. Meets 10-11:30 a.m. 2nd and 4th Sat. 

Young Adult Family Support Group: A young adult peer-led support group for families and friends of a person living with a mental illness. Meets 5-6:30 p.m. the 4th Wed. 

BIPOC Family Support Group: A peer-led support group in BIPOC (Black, indigenous, people of color) communities for families and friends of a person living with a mental illness. Meets 5-6:30 p.m. 1st and 3rd Sat. 

Find a complete list of NAMI Minnesota support groups, meetings and how to join in by going to namimn.org and clicking on support groups. FFI: https://namimn.org/support/nami-minnesota-support-groups/. 

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/