People and Places – August 2011

Hewitt Named New Director of University of Minnesota RTC Amy Hewitt, PhD, has been selected as the new Director of […]

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Hewitt Named New Director of University of Minnesota RTC

Amy Hewitt, PhD, has been selected as the new Director of the Research and Training Center on Community Living (RTC) at the University of Minnesota’s Institute on Community Integration. She will assume the new role effective August 15 , succeeding Dr. Charlie Lakin, who has been appointed Director of the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research in the U.S. Department of Education.

Over the past 20 years Hewitt’s work within the RTC has earned her a national reputation as a leader in the area of community supports to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Among her areas of expertise are Medicaid policy, consumer-directed services, direct support workforce development, and interdisciplinary training. She currently serves on the board of directors of the Association of University Centers on Disabilities, the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, Arc Minnesota, and Arc Greater Twin Cities.


Minnesotans do well at Special Olympics

After ten days of exciting competition, eight Special Olympics Minnesota athletes and two coaches returned to Minnesota from Special Olympics World Summer Games Athens 2011 where they won 13 medals as part of Special Olympics Team USA. Team USA competed alongside 7,000 athletes from almost 180 nations June 25–July 4.

The Minnesota natives competed in 22 events while claiming four gold, five silver and four bronze medals for Team USA. Gold medals were won in bowling (doubles), bocce (doubles), swimming

(4×100 freestyle relay) and equestrian competition (English equitation). The five silver medals were earned in track & field (400-meter walk), swimming (50 freestyle), tennis (mixed doubles and doubles), and equestrian competition (working trails). Bronze medal victories came in track & field (800-meter walk), swimming (50 backstroke and 100 individual medley) and tennis (singles).

Minnesotans on Team USA include:

• Blaine Cox, 24, bowling, North Mankato

• Tyler DeVries, 25, bocce, Underwood

• Kristina Fritz, 33, track and field, Woodbury

• Amy Holty, 31, swimmer, Rochester

• Richard Martin, 28, tennis, Hibbing

• Jake Sawyer, 22, swimming, Champlin

• Matthew Schoenbauer, 14, equestrian, New Prague

• Katie VandenBosch, 21, Farmington

The team also included Minnesota track and field coach Corinne Schattschneider of  Perham and golf coach Nancy Schwindel of Richmond. To view specific results for individual athletes, go to Team USA included 315 athletes from every state and the District of Columbia, as well as 125 coaches and managers.

Alternating between Summer Games and Winter Games, Special Olympics World Games bring public attention to the talents and capabilities of people with intellectual disabilities, helping to change attitudes and break down barriers that excluded them from the mainstream of the community. The 13th Special Olympics World Summer Games drew more than 25,000 volunteers, 3,000 event officials and thousands of families, spectators and journalists from every continent.


Members named to advisory council

The Metropolitan Council has appointed nine members to the Transportation Accessibility Advisory Committee (TAAC) to serve four-year terms. The TAAC was created by the Minnesota Legislature as a committee of users and advocates for the disability community that advises the Metropolitan Council on short and long-rang management plans and policies for special transportation services.

TAAC membership includes a chair and eight citizen district representatives appointed by the Metropolitan Council, two members appointed by the Minnesota State Council on Disabilities, two by Minnesota Senior Federation, two by the Minnesota Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities, and one by the Minnesota Chapter of AARP.

The appointments include:

• Ron Biss, Bloomington –Chair

• John Lund, Greenfield –District A

• Kim Kang, Orono–District B

• John Schatzlein, Bloomington –District C

• Chad McGuire, Minneapolis –District D

• James Williams, Shoreview –District E

• Bruce Lattu, Centerville –District F

• Nichole Villavicencio, St. Paul –District G

• Darrell Paulsen, South St. Paul–District H.

The TAAC members provide input during the planning stages of transportation services in the metro area.

“The TAAC is playing an increasingly important role in offering guidance and recommendations about incorporating pedestrian amenities and design consistency for fixed-route bus and light-rail service,” said Andy Streasick, Metro Mobility customer service manager. “They were involved with making sure the Hiawatha LRT line was not only accessible but also standardized, especially at station platforms, in order to meet the needs of all persons with disabilities. That process has really been beneficial with the implementation of the Marquette and 2nd Avenue redesign in downtown Minneapolis and now on the Central Corridor.”

At least half of the TAAC must be certified as Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) paratransiteligible and be active users of ground transportation in the metro area.



Disabled veterans to benefit from generous donation

A ceremony was held July 19 in Minneapolis to recognize the donation of a medical transportation van benefiting disabled veterans. This donation by the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) of Minnesota is part of a program that ensures that veterans have the opportunity to receive care at VA medical facilities around the state, sometimes at a great distance from their homes.

The DAV of Minnesota operates this statewide transportation network out of the VA Healthcare Systems in Minneapolis and St. Cloud. Last year, volunteer drivers traveled more than 1.2 million miles and provided 18,000 rides. This donation will augment the existing transportation fleet.

“Too often age, disability, or geography act as barriers that prevent veterans from accessing care they have earned through service to our nation. This transportation network is a way to make sure that the veterans who need it most can get to their appointments,” said Foundation Director Martin Ludden. The DAV of Minnesota raised the funds through a golf benefit and other activities.



Homeless get help bridging digital divide

In a short period, access to the Internet has become a tool that is necessary to function in society. For people who are homeless, their connection to the digital mainstream and having access to the internet is tenuous. Open Access Connections, community partners and sponsors released a new report on community internet space for the homeless. The agency was formerly known as Twin Cities Community Voice Mail.

The report outlines how people who are homeless are marginalized in accessing technology and the Internet—and describes a unique solution. With support from the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA) at the University of Minnesota, Open Access Connections was able to do a major research report on providing homeless Twin Citians with the communications tools that they need. Homeless individuals shared their experiences during the gathering.

Anyone needing information on the program can contact Open Access Connections at 651-643-0883 or


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