Fruition: Families Demonstrating the Adult Lives that are Possible
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The webinar banner: an image of an African-American mother and daughter at a crafts table. The girl is standing on her chair and has facepaint on her cheek and hair in pigtails. The mother holds a paint brush. The two are turned toward the center of the image and looking back at the viewer.

When: Thursday, September 15th 2016
1:00-2:00 PM Eastern
Where: Via Adobe Connect
United States
Contact: Donald Taylor

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About this Series

This is Episode 2 of 3 in the Autumn 2016 webinar series, Envisioning a Full Future for your Child with a Disability. This series is co-presented by TASH and the State Wide Advocacy Network's National Resources for Access, Independence, Self-Advocacy and Employment (RAISE) Technical Assistance Center.

About this presentation

This episode will showcase the lives, accomplishments, and experiences of three young adults who have successfully gone through the transition process. Each of the young people presenting live independent, thriving lives. The three parts are as follows:

My Impossible Dream...Isn't

About this presentation: You will learn about how Nate Trainor created the future that he wanted. You'll learn about the importance of having a vision. While Nate's life is a work in progress, he'll share his story of finding his "voice" and the importance of presuming competence. Nate and his mother will share the key players that helped along the way and the lessons learned. Nate's hope is that his story will help others on their journey. He believes that inclusion is the answer to many of the issues we are dealing with today and that it is possible to change the world if we welcome and value everyone.

A color portrait of Jean Trainor. A smiling Jean Trainor is standing with her left side facing slightly more toward the camera than her right. She has a dark brown pixie cut, and a pair of dark framed glasses. Jean is wearing a white dress shirt under a pin striped blazer.Jean Trainor, a Cedar Falls, Iowa native, graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with an Accounting Degree and earned her Certified Public Accountant designation. Jean “recalibrated” from her position as CEO/Chief Inclusion Officer of Veridian Credit Union in May of 2015 to begin working with her son, Nate. Jean currently serves at Inclusion Connection, a not-for-profit organization with the goal of promoting inclusive communities that live, learn, work and play together. She also is a former Board member of TASH.

A slightly sepia tone filtered portrait of Nate Trainor. He is a young man smiling so big that his eyes nearly closed and he is showing considerable laugh-lines. His head is tilted slightly back, he has a short-cropped haircut with a widow's peak hairline. He is wearing a hoodie and sitting in his wheelchair.Nate Trainor is an advocate for the acceptance of people with disabilities. He, although non-verbal, is a powerful “voice” for inclusion. Nate has experienced firsthand what rejection, exclusion and assumed incompetence feels like. He volunteers his time to help others understand that everyone has many abilities, communicates, and belongs. He is currently living with two roommates, is employed at the “W” Wellness Center, volunteers for a sixth grade class, and provides many presentations throughout the country, advocating for people with disabilities. Nate is a passionate advocate for those without a “voice” or means to communicate.

Mapping Independence

About this presentation: David Maennle is a 27 year old adult living and working in his community. This is a realization of his dreams and goals he set shortly following his graduation from high school. Following attending a postsecondary education program that taught him independent living and vocational skills, he, with the help of his mom and the coordinator of his postsecondary education program, mapped his community and assisted him in accessing resources in his community. Using paid and natural supports and assistive technology, as well as utilizing community transit, David is successfully maintaining an independent apartment and continues to enjoy his work in his job with Graham County EMS in Robbinsville, North Carolina. David and his mom, Becky, will discuss the challenges they face and share how they have maintained his independence successfully for three years.

A color portrait of Becky Garland, a woman with short hair and low-profile glasses. She is smiling and a bit of the pick collar of her shirt is in-picture. The concrete steps in a park are in the background.Becky Garland is David's mom. Becky works full time for Graham County, North Carolina as Director of Finance and is a certified public accountant. She is also the parent support coordinator for the University Participation Program (UP) at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, North Carolina. UP is a postsecondary education program for persons with disabilities. She is also mom to Bekah—who is an Early Childhood teacher—and a grandma. Her spare time is filled with traveling with David to speak about inclusion in school, work, and community.

A color photograph of David Maennle. He is striking a casual pose is wearing cargo pants and an EMT shirt. There is a medical transport helicopter in the distance.David Maennle is a 27 year old who lives and works in his community. He also has Down Syndrome. David was raised in Cherokee County, North Carolina and educated in an inclusive setting from kindergarten until his graduation in 2010. David attended the University Participation Program (UP) at Western Carolina University a post-secondary education program where he learned independent vocational and community living skills. Since graduation, he has been employed by Graham County EMS as a custodian and a part time paramedic helper and he also volunteers in his community. With the assistance of paid and unpaid community supports and assistive technology, he has lived in his own apartment since December 2014. In his spare time, David travels with his mom Becky speaking about the value of inclusion in school, work, and community settings for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Beyond Expectations: A Woman's Journey in Achieving a Fully Inclusive Future

About this presentation: Trail blazing is not new for Michelle Sommerstein. She has been at the forefront of the movement of full inclusion for individuals with disabilities for twenty-five years. She was one of the test cases for school inclusion in the 1980's and pioneered the movement for individuals with developmental disabilities to have a college experience in 1993. Michelle now lives in her own apartment with support and works in a law office. Michelle and her mother, Lynne, will share their experiences in what Lynne calls this great "adventure" and lessons learned along the way about advocacy, guardianship, independence and planning for the future.

A color portrait of Lynne Sommerstein, a woman with tossed bangs and short, dark hair. She is wearing a black cardigan against a neutral, but shadowy, beige background.Lynne Sommerstein, M.Ed., is an educator at Buffalo State College in the Exceptional Education Department specializing in education students with significant disabilities in general education classrooms. She has been a consultant to school districts on inclusion, curriculum modification, and friendship facilitation for students with developmental disabilities. She is a trained lay advocate and leader in the field of supported full inclusion in schools and communities. She is founder and adviser to the Buffalo State Chapter of Best Buddies and of the College Based Transition Program at Buffalo State. She is also co-founder of Hand in Hand, an inclusion advocacy organization for faith communities. Her major claim to fame is being Michelle’s mother!

A color portrait of Michelle Sommerstein, a woman with shoulder-length dark hair, wearing an olive shirt. She is mid-expression as a friend makes bunny-ears behind her head.Being a pioneer and exceeding expectations are nothing new to Michelle Sommerstein. At a time when inclusion was considered to be radical and unworkable, Michelle became the first included student with developmental disabilities in western New York State in 1987. Every year was a new challenge as she paved the way for other students to follow. After graduation from high school, she became the first student with developmental disabilities to live in the dorms at Trinity College in Vermont where she audited classes and earned her Certificate of Continuing Education in 1995. Michelle frequently speaks at conferences about living with disabilities, including presentations in Chicago, Miami, New York City, Washington, D.C., Buffalo, Baltimore and Syracuse. She has advocated for disability legislation with political leaders and is proud to be working and living semi-independently in her own apartment, achievements which once had been considered impossible for her. In recognition of her achievements, United Cerebral Palsy of Western New York honored Michelle with the “Consumer Inspiration Award”.

Learning Objectives

By the end of the session, participants will be able to:

  • Create a vision and a person centered plan.
  • Advocate for inclusive settings for persons with I/DD.
  • Employ five methods of targeting individualized support to meet living, work and social needs.
  • Adapt Medicaid supported plans in a more flexible way.
  • Create strategies to generate social networks for community participation.

Intended Audience

Young and transition-age people with disabilities, family members, transition teachers, and adult service providers.

How to participate

This series of live webinars will be streamed over the web. Each presentation will be about fifty minutes, followed by ten minutes for questions and answers. Registered participants will receive an e-mail with instructions and the link to join the webinar on Tuesday (two days prior) and a reminder the morning of the event.

This is a three episode long webinar series. Individual sessions are $5.00 each. You will receive one episode for free when you register for the entire Envisioning a Full Future for your Child with a Disability webinar series.

Register for the Complete Series   Register for this Episode Only

If you have any questions about the series please contact Donald Taylor at (202) 888-2419 or