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DSAIA welcomes guest bloggers.  Have something to share that will benefit the local/regional Down syndrome organization? Contact us today at info@dsaia.org! 

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  • Mon, October 21, 2019 8:36 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    From Guest Blogger Kari Jones, executive director of the Down Syndrome Association of Central Ohio

    When the Walk’s Over: The event hangover… and then the rally.

    Thank goodness for my DSAIA friends and colleagues who make me feel normal this time of year.

    I’ve basically cut off communication to the outside world—all friends, most family, and about everyone who doesn’t need something until AFTER my Walk. The only people I talk to in the weeks leading up to our Walk are my office team, about 200 team captains (WHY DON’T THEY READ THEIR EMAILS EXPLAINING ALL THE THINGS THEY CALL/TEXT/FB MESSAGE/EMAIL ME ABOUT?!), my immediate family, and my Starbucks barista. Oh, and of course my lovely colleagues from around the country who are in the trenches with me, venting about the madness, celebrating the victories, and basking in the glory of another year in the record books. Or maybe just the books. Who cares, it’s over! I’m so exhausted. We’re ALL so.very.exhausted.

    But wait, why do I always seem to forget this HUGE thing: The Walk is just the START to Down Syndrome Awareness Month. It’s 31 days filled with programs, events, “have we locked in our World Down Syndrome Day venue yet?”, social media posts, public speaking engagements, “we should really be doing more with employment…”, classroom visits, “I don’t even want to THINK about the 2020 budget yet…”, awareness campaigns, fill-in-the-blank-next-event planning, and really doing everything we can to honor people with Down syndrome, their families, and the community professionals who serve them.

    It’s amazing and glorious and tiring and beautiful and rewarding and… so many things. I love it. And you know what? I’m so grateful that I have colleagues that TOTALLY get it. Colleagues that I’ve met at DSAIA conferences, or on Leadership Circle calls, or on a DSAIA committee, or through another member who said, “You really should call so-and-so… they have a great program like what you’re trying to do…”. These incredible people (that’s YOU) make me feel like it’s totally typical to spend my day driving around in a box truck to pick up pumpkins for our Walk (that I KNOW most of the children will leave, painted and rotting, at the Walk...). The ones who validate that it’s totally typical to scream at your computer and hope your Panera delivery guy (who just happened to walk in with your lunch…) didn’t hear you. The ones who can relate to you wanting a job in which you work normal 9-5 hours while simultaneously squealing with glee when the prenatal momma you spoke to last week decides to keep the baby.

    How do I really quantify the value that DSAIA brings to me? I imagine it’s like what we hear from new parents who found their local Down syndrome association: They’re so grateful they found us. They can’t imagine life without us. And they’re so, so, so appreciative they’ve found people who “get it.” People who are walking in their shoes.

    So, to all of my friends whom I’ve met through DSAIA, the ones who are exhausted and grateful for doing work that we love, rallying through a month of October madness, and genuinely trying to do as much as possible to honor people with Down syndrome while also genuinely wishing it was November already: You can do it-- and I’m so thankful we’re in this together.

  • Wed, October 16, 2019 3:35 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Today's guest blogger is David Forney, see below for full biography:

    As a retired marketing communication consultant who worked with some of the biggest companies in the for-profit world and as a former board member for DSAIA, here’s what I’ve been thinking about lately

    Down Syndrome Affiliates In Action (DSAIA) presents an interesting dichotomy --best practices AND experiential learning.

    DSAIA opens the door for members to current, well-developed and sophisticated programs and processes that they can apply to sustain and improve their organizations – the best practices.

    Access to those assets, however, is essentially experiential often accessed when two or three – a group – of leaders gather to share insights gained through experience at the Leadership Conference, on a Topical Call, in a Leaders’ Circle or on a webinar. Or, when members connect with DSAIA seeking others who have launched similar programs or dealt with a similar, yet unique situation.

    I think most would agree those natural, open exchanges are at the very heart of DSAIA’s appeal.

    If you have experienced that, it’s obvious, however, it is not obvious to everyone, unfortunately. And that means we have an opportunity to more clearly and consistently communicate this unique property to less-engaged and prospective members.

    The first value expressed by DSAIA is “We model nonprofit best practices.” It is important to recognize that there are two pieces to that – “non-profit” and “best practices.” It’s that dicotomy again. While the latter, perhaps, suggests an aggressive, formal, buttoned-down persona, the former asserts the warmth and care typically associated with human services organizations.

    It might be argued, in fact, that DSAIA came into being because our organizations had matured to the point where we realized that as important as heart may be, raising funds, managing staff, developing programs and managing all efficiently also demanded businesslike discipline – those best practices.

    So, implicit in that dichotomy is the need to find balance between those two, potentially conflicting, poles. So, the pieces parts start to come together as follows:

    1. Mission: We are about Down syndrome – it is our raison d’etre. Ultimately, all that DSAIA does is focused on improving the lives of people with Down syndrome, their families and those who support them.

    2. Vision: We are focused on helping local and regional Down syndrome organizations develop organizational capacity.

    3. We are intent on achieving our vision and mission by helping members access both classic, professional expertise and – importantly – the practical, experience-based knowledge of their fellow members.

    Where improving the lives of people with Down syndrome is what we do, networking among peers and harnessing best practices are, principally, how we do it.

    4. DSAIA leverages the scope of its membership to: a) Open access to resources which would otherwise be beyond the reach of individual DSAIA member while b) helping members reduce a wide range of routine expenses. By pooling our resources we bring in leading experts while negotiating quantity discounts on material purchases.

    5. Increasingly, DSAIA is applying digital technologies to enable remote learning while providing a widely distributed membership with opportunities to gather and exchange ideas (eg. Leadership Circles).

    6. We have established and maintain an archive of materials, encompassing everything from bylaws and procedures manuals to walk promotions and tee-shirt designs which may be accessed on line and used by all DSAIA members.

    Again, I’m an old ad guy so I think in tag lines that encompass what we do, who we are and while many of you think automatically in multiple hashtags and memes, the line I think really sums up this marriage between the heart of DSAIA and the best practices it brings to all of us is this:

    Better & Better.

    Together.

    What do YOU think?

    David Forney, our guest blogger today, is dad to a 41 year old man, Mack, with Down syndrome. He is also dad to a lovely young lady, Catherine, who is mom to the most wonderful humans in earth, his two grand daughters, Madeline (10) and Amelia (5) His spouse is Kathleen McDonnell-Forney — retired (sort of) ED of the DSA of Minnesota, past treasurer and President of DSAIA and just retired member of the National Down Syndrome Congress (NDSC) Board. 

    Forney is a copywriter by trade who became a creative services executive and graduated as the vice president of editorial and client services of a leading graphic design firm with an international clientele.  Clients have included Herman Miller, Steelcase, Baker Furniture, Steinway & Sons, Formica, Potlatch, the French Government, Infiniti, division of Nissan and Northrop- Grumman.

    He attended Northwestern University, graduated from the University of Minnesota and has recently returned to his alma mater since retirement to pursue the arcane topic of early Medieval art.

    He is also a past DSAIA board member and was a board member, secretary and communication director for the NDSC where he conceived of and managed the We’re More Alike Than Different campaign.


  • Thu, October 03, 2019 9:45 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    “Your advice is priceless … because you’ve already been where we are.”  “The conference fast-forwarded our group at least 5 years.” “Together is better.” “When our Executive Director left last year, we called DSAIA.” “We have made friends from numerous groups who are also members and they have freely shared advice, documents and support. We are so much stronger together!” “We saved $4,000 in the first year alone from the Member Rewards.”  “DSAIA is essential to our community.”

    These are just a few of the comments we have read or heard recently as DSAIA reaches out to members, partners and leaders around the country.

    Nowhere else will you find other people who have walked in your shoes and are so willing to share those lessons.

    So, in case you have been a little busy (ok—A LOT busy!) with the business of running your own Ds organization, let us remind you of the power of these connections:

    •  If you have questions or a concern of any kind or need help navigating the next steps for your organization or just want to know which other group already does the new program you are about to roll out, give us a call! We can help.
    • You can reach DSAIA at the same time and place as always: 701-354-7255 or via email here
    •  Become accredited. Today more than ever, donors look for accredited organizations before choosing a nonprofit organization to fund. Accreditation is evidence to donors that an organization is committed to nonprofit best practices, true accountability and serving its community. Donors need only view the rigorous standards that organizations must meet for DSAIA accreditation to know their funds are in good hands. Our application is online and there is no fee. We even provide you with the checklist to help you meet the accreditation standards.
    • The cornerstone of DSAIA: the 14th Annual Down Syndrome Affiliates in Action Leadership Conference Feb. 27-March--attend the only conference exclusively designed for the leaders of nonprofit, Down syndrome associations. Three full days of workshops on fundraising, board and staff development, new programs and outreach templates, networking and more. If you haven’t registered yet, do it today here!
    • And this year, for your convenience and cost-savings, Down Syndrome Affiliates in Action (DSAIA) and National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) are thrilled to announce a collaboration between the DSAIA and NDSS National Buddy Walk® Organizer’s Conference. This collaboration will bring even more education and leadership-growth opportunities for affiliate leaders, advocates, and individuals dedicated to the Down syndrome community. In February 2020 in Orlando, Down syndrome affiliate leaders, whose organizations hold a Buddy Walk®, can attend both annual conferences during the same weekend in the same location.
    • February 27  -  NDSS Buddy Walk Organizer's Conference
    • February 28 - March 1 -  DSAIA Leadership Conference
    • And of course, this doesn’t even touch on our Leaders Circles (new ones will form in Spring 2020), the members-only library of shared documents and templates (hundreds!) as well as corporate discounts on insurance, event tshirts, etc. We’ll talk about those in our next blog post.

    See you in Orlando Feb. 27!

  • Fri, September 20, 2019 11:05 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Valued DSAIA Affiliate Members,

    After more than 9 years, Executive Director, Deanna Tharpe has decided to move on from the Down Syndrome Affiliates in Action and will step down as of September 20, 2019.

    Under Tharpe’s leadership the organization has grown into a national, respected resource for the Down syndrome leadership community.  “Deanna’s passion has produced growth and progress both for the organization and the community at-large.” said DSAIA Board President, Lauren Camp.

    “It has been a privilege to serve DSAIA.” Tharpe said. “This organization continues to lead the way in the Down syndrome affiliate community due to the dedication of the Board and the wisdom of our membership.”

    Tharpe will be joining the executive team of Global Down Syndrome Foundation as their Senior Membership Consultant. She is looking forward to continuing to serve the Down syndrome community in her new role. Tharpe will remain in a strategic advisory role with DSAIA for the next few months of transition. The DSAIA Board looks forward to working with Deanna through our strong and long-time relationship with Global.

    The DSAIA Board of Directors is excited to welcome Amy Van Bergen into the role as interim executive director. She will help us reach our membership and conference goals and brings a wealth of knowledge and energy to DSAIA. Amy has a vast amount of experience within Down syndrome and nonprofit organizations of all sizes. She is a native to Florida and happens to have a son with Down syndrome.

    DSAIA’s first priority is and will always be serving our membership, and through you, the Down syndrome community. During this period of having an interim director, the DSAIA Board will also be analyzing the organization’s current structure, mission and strategy.  We will look to you for feedback about why DSAIA is important and how we can strengthen programming to serve your ever-changing needs.  We invite you to join us for a Town Hall Zoom Meeting on Monday, September 23rd at 6:30pm Central Time. This will be an opportunity for members to ask questions, share input and engage with the DSAIA Board of Directors. If you are unable to attend, but would like to speak with our board President, Lauren Camp, please email info@dsaia.org or call 302-757-2303.

    Down Syndrome Affiliates in Action is dedicated to helping our members develop organizational capacity. We look forward to seeing you in Orlando for another amazing conference and hope to hear from you at the meeting on Monday. Thank you for all you do!

    Join the Town Hall Zoom Meeting on Monday, September 23rd at 6:30PM CT via this link HERE.  Let’s discuss: What is the biggest benefit to your organization from being DSAIA members? What do you want more of? How can we improve and better serve you?


  • Tue, August 13, 2019 8:44 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Guest blog author:  Kari Jones, President/CEO of Down Syndrome Association of Central Ohio, DSAIA board member, and sibling

    Today, over lunch, I drove by my brother’s house as I was heading to a meeting. Sometimes I just want to make sure everything looks “right” and it’s just kind of a habit since he lives so close now. When I passed by, a blue paper on the front door caught my eye. I immediately jumped to “protective mode” and had already made up my mind that whatever it was, it was probably bad because I didn’t see any similar notes on other houses on the block.


    As I parked my car and ran up the steps, lots of things were flashing through my head. Is it a mean note? Someone “marking” his house somehow? Someone trying to take advantage of him somehow? A neighbor writing that he needs to close his blinds?! (Note: If that letter hasn’t actually come yet, it’s undoubtedly on the way...  )

    I got to the door, looked closely, and realized it was an invitation to the neighborhood block party.

    I immediately felt several emotions, but mostly I just felt overwhelming happiness. All my life, all I have ever wanted for Alex is for him to have a community around him that makes sure to have him be a part of it. Not one that lives around him, but one that lives with him. One that includes. Today, in the neighborhood I hope he grows old in, it officially happened.

    Over his lifetime, Alex has had countless pieces of paper that meant something to him and to us as his family. Report cards, IEP’s, ISP’s, diplomas, paychecks... and many other things that represented the milestones in his life. It’s more than just milestones, though. These papers represent inclusion.

    It hasn’t always been glamorous, but I firmly believe that all of the years of hard work (my parents’ mostly) and pushing (I’ll take credit there... I’m the oldest! Isn’t that my job?!) which led to this blue paper being taped to the door today.

    Inclusion isn’t just a one-time decision. It isn’t just about school, or sports, or work. It’s raising awareness so others think “Hey, I should make sure to give him a note since he may not see it on Facebook like many of the other neighbors.” It’s a lifetime of choices that lead to someone’s acceptance. If we all do it, eventually maybe there won’t be overbearing sisters pouring their hearts out about what a big deal it was to have their brother with Down syndrome invited to the neighborhood block party. Wouldn’t that be awesome?


  • Wed, July 17, 2019 9:58 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Deanna Tharpe, DSAIA Executive Director

    We have all been there. You leave a meeting and wonder why it was even necessary. What was the purpose?  Nothing was really accomplished anyway. And actually, it probably was a giant waste of your precious time. But it didn’t have to be. No, not at all. 


    Meetings are supposed to have purpose…and most do.  There is an agenda and lots of discussion. So, why do you leave feeling like nothing was accomplished? Maybe it’s because there were no decisions made, no action items assigned. Sure, some meetings are meant to be a way for staff or committees to keep the rest of the team updated. But if that is all that happens in a meeting, just mail that info in, right?

    If you are leading a team, here’s a couple of tips on how meetings can be a useful tool rather than a time-sucker:

    Take some time on the agenda.

    Rather than just a round-robin of departments, consider adding some bullet points under each category/department with action items from the last meeting as well as future deadlines and/or next steps in order to cover everything and keep everyone future-focused.

    Always add a discussion item to the meeting agenda.

    It doesn’t matter if it needs a true vote or decision made, but adding an item that needs input of the whole team means engagement! It can be a small detail or a large-scale idea. Whatever it is, the goal is to get the creative juices flowing…or thoughtful ideas shared. But here is the kicker…as the facilitator of the meeting, it’s your job to make sure that everyone participates in this discussion and that it doesn’t go on forever. So, keep a list of your team members and check off who shares.  Then encourage others who haven’t by a short prompt: “Sarah, what do you think about John’s idea?” Or keep talkers from monopolizing the conversation: “Jean, I want to hear what you have to add, but we haven’t heard from Sarah yet.”  And start your stopwatch on your phone to keep it all in check.

    Don’t leave the meeting without Action Items!

    I think this is the most important of all. After each discussion, make sure that a decision is made and that it is noted. “So, we agree that we are going to go with the purple shirts this year and Tom is going to check on pricing with vendors and report back to us at the next meeting.” There.  Now, write that down and create a deadline for Tom. It’s all about accountability and we are all adults here. You can always set a reminder for yourself to check in with Tom in 2 weeks to check progress, but that action item is already going to be listed on the next meeting’s agenda. And guess what? Two or three action items recalled at the end of the meeting and BAM…it feels like you guys accomplished something!

    Good luck at your next meeting!  Oops, I have to go! Yep, I’m late for a meeting!


  • Tue, May 28, 2019 9:12 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Deanna Tharpe, DSAIA Executive Director

    Some people only know me as the executive director of DSAIA. But once upon a time, I founded a Down syndrome association in Paris, Texas. I resigned in 2010, moved to North Dakota and was able to continue my journey in the DS community by becoming part of DSAIA.

    Two years ago, I moved back to Texas. Hanging out after a golf scramble, I had someone come up to me and ask “You probably don’t remember me, but I remember you.” After a little hesitation (I mean, I wasn’t sure where this was going), I asked her name. She related that she had a daughter with Down syndrome and 7 years before, I had come to her house for a new parent visit.  Whew… 

    I instantly remembered her and her daughter because that was the very last new parent visit I did before leaving Texas for North Dakota. She told me that she was struggling back then…very young with a baby, not to mention that the baby had Down syndrome. She said I stayed a long time and she appreciated it.  (Actually, it was my last visit so that was probably me being selfish.)

    She told the person next to me that I held the baby, fed the baby, and so on.  She looked at me and told me that the visit CHANGED HER PERSPECTIVE.  She showed me pictures of her now 7 year old daughter who is doing well and told me that I put Down syndrome on the back burner and helped her understand that this sweet little baby was a baby first.

    Now, about this time, I am tearing up (I am tearing up right now as I write this) and I am pretty sure a few others were around me. I don’t remember everything she said to me that night, but I walked away with the realization that even one interaction (a few hours or a few minutes) can make a world of difference in the life of another person.

    It also reminded me that not every area in the country has an active Down syndrome association to be able to make that difference in someone’s life. To be fair, it’s more than just existing…  Being a professional organization with proven programs and top-notch training is so important and that is why I LOVE what DSAIA does for organizations.

    But as you read this and think back about the many lives your DS organization has touched, think about what would happen if your organization didn’t exist. And I think I’ll leave that right here for you to ponder.


    (If you have a story to share, send it to info@dsaia.org. We want to hear it!)


  • Mon, April 08, 2019 12:39 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Guest blogger:  Sterling Lynk

    What great things for people with Down syndrome could you do with $9,000?  Launch a new educational program?  Host a new fundraising event?  Serve more families?

    I do executive coaching and strategic consulting for all manner of non-profits around the country, so I took this question to a few of the organizations I have worked with.  One agency I know could keep a family in danger of homelessness off the streets for nearly a year.  Another service provider I’m a fan of could reliably use that money to raise three-times as much.  For one DSA, $9,000 would mean they could serve 15 additional families this year.


    I didn’t pick $9,000 out of thin air; this is not an arbitrary number.  Back on August 28th of 2018, Jamie Dianna Harper, former board president of the Down Syndrome Association of Tulsa, was arrested on double digit counts of embezzlement and “pattern of criminal offense”.  Authorities said she stole over $9,000 of donations intended for the DSA, and this former leader in our movement cost her organization an unmeasured amount of credibility (see https://ktul.com/news/local/down-syndrome-association-moving-past-embezzlement-scandal and http://www.newson6.com/story/38986640/tulsa-woman-facing-19-embezzlement-charges-booked-into-jail).  And, what happened in Tulsa is not an isolated incident in the non-profit world.   A buddy of mine is an Assistant US Attorney and 1/3 of his caseload involves embezzlement of money from non-profits and churches.

    Illegal activity is not the only way for your DSA to lose $9,000.  Have you had a year where the budget didn’t work, a program ended up costing more than expected, a fundraiser underperformed, or you got blindsided with hidden charges in a contract?  I have, despite my best efforts and I bet you have too.

    DSAIA can help.  As member of this trade association you can access our accreditation program customized for the needs of DSAs and their affiliates.  This program can help your team get organized, protect your resources and the people you serve, and line you up with best practices in programming.  Signing up could you save you $9,000.

    Learn more at www.dsaia.org/accreditation.


  • Mon, March 18, 2019 9:52 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Guest contributor:  Deborah Tomai of Rio Grande Valley Down Syndrome Association

    “Everything’s bigger in Texas” is an unofficial state motto.  Texas has 254 counties and over 28 million residents. One out of every ten U.S. children lives and is educated in Texas.  It’s the second largest state in both area and population (Alaska and California are first, respectively). I live almost on the southern border of Texas, and it would take me over 11 hours to reach Amarillo, which is near the state’s northern border.

    Because Texas is so spread out, our DSA leaders don’t have many opportunities to see each other; oftentimes, we get together at conferences in other states.  Last summer at the NDSC Convention in Dallas, Cameron LaHaise formerly of DSA of Central Texas, Jennifer Ford from the Down Syndrome Guild of Dallas, and Deanna Tharpe from DSAIA (and relocated Texan) pulled together a group of leaders from across the state to have a conversation about connecting.  Cameron had a passion for making sure that each family with a new baby was receiving information required by the newly passed Down Syndrome Information Act; she asked each group to distribute a survey to new families. Deanna was excited because DSAIA had the foresight to buy domains for each state.  Texas would have the site downsyndrometexas.org, modeled on downsyndromeohio.org. The website is not designed as a stand-alone resource, but it points people toward local support.

    Since that meeting, we’ve slowly but surely started growing our connections.  We’ve had the occasional conference call, and there’s an email chain. What really got us moving is the Texas Legislature.  The Texas Legislature is in session only 140 calendar days every other year, so if there are any policy concerns that impact people with Down syndrome, we have to address them now or wait until 2021.  

    The stars aligned in another way: the new speaker pro-tem of the Texas House of Representatives has a sister with Down syndrome.  Rep. Joe Moody has been supportive of the disability community, and his family thought this would be a great year to celebrate World Down Syndrome Day in Austin.  With their encouragement, our organizations decided to meet for a celebration at the Texas Capitol.

    This Thursday, we will have over 50 people from across the Great State of Texas joining us at the State Capitol to receive World Down Syndrome Day proclamations in the Texas House and Senate.  While we’re there, we’ll meet with legislators about current issues in special education, transition, employment, Medicaid waiver wait lists and more. We’re excited to kick off our Down Syndrome Texas collaboration with a visible, impactful day at the Capitol.  

    We’re still figuring out how our state collaboration will work in the long run, but we can already see that it’s making a difference.  In June, DSA leadership will meet in College Station to flesh out the longer term goals of working together - state advocacy, sharing info about events and conferences across the state, and working together to ensure that families in all 254 Texas counties have access to local support.  Thank you DSAIA for hosting the website and giving us the push to get together as a state. 

    We are more powerful together.


  • Tue, February 05, 2019 11:43 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Guest Contributor:  Emily Iland, Educational Consultant, Writer and Producer, BE SAFE The Movie

    When my son Tom was learning to drive, I was terrified. I wasn’t worried about the rules of the road, I knew he’d memorize those. I was worried that if he was stopped by the police, the first thing that would come of his mouth would be “video-talk” from a favorite Jim Carrey movie, like Liar, Liar or Dumb & Dumber! No matter which movie it was, it wouldn’t be good! Tom has autism, and while he usually manages things very well, he is at-risk in a police encounter for multiple reasons related to his disability, like others with I/DD.

    As a parent and a parent leader, I know that other parents and leaders (like you) have fears about safety. Our children (including adults) may wander, have little sense of danger, or have limited communication skills. We are all disturbed by disastrous incidents between police and individuals with disabilities, even those who are accompanied by a caretaker. None of us will ever forget the tragic death of Ethan Saylor.

    My response to this fear-inducing situation was to DO SOMETHING! My first step was organizing with other parents to train local sheriff’s deputies about developmental disabilities. In 2006, I authored the autism training for the Los Angeles Police Department which has been presented to well over 7,000 officers to date. I thought that training the police about disabilities would be the answer to the problem, but I was wrong. It’s essential, but it’s not enough.

    One day a trained deputy said to me, “Emily, even when I know that someone has a disability, if they run from me I still have to chase them. If they fight with me I have to fight back and win.” This was the scariest thing anyone ever said to me. I was stunned, but it was true. Particular actions can trigger tactical responses from the police, disability or not. My question to him was, “Who is training our population not to run and not to fight?” and the answer was, “Nobody.”

    More fear, more action! I decided to make a movie to show individuals with I/DD and related conditions what to do to in everyday encounters with the police! Joey Travolta of Inclusion Films co-produced BE SAFE the Movie, starring differently-abled individuals interacting with real police officers. We re-framed the Don’ts (Don’t run, Don’t fight) into Do’s: Stay where you are, Follow instructions, and five other life-saving skills.  I created a differentiated curriculum to go along with the Movie to reach learners of all abilities. 

    It’s our responsibility as parents and leaders to ensure that we explicitly teach everyone these skills. Whatever tools you want to use, resolve to DO SOMETHING about safety! The alternative to being proactive is leaving safety to chance, and we know how that’s working.

    I hope you’ll want to learn more about BE SAFE and how you can help the people in your life on a personal and a community level! Please join Tom and me for our 3-hour workshop, BE SAFE: How to Interact Safely with the Police on Friday March 1 from 1:30 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. See you there!


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I want to tell you what WONDERFUL time I had at the conference. I learned so much and came away with lots of ideas for our organization. -Barb Waddle, The Upside of Downs of Northeast Ohio

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