The Arc Amplified Blog Cover 2

Welcome!

Welcome Post Cover The Arc Amplified

Welcome to The Arc Amplified!

The Arc Amplified is a new online publication and source for sharing stories of inclusion and belonging,
bold activism and local change-makers in action. The mission of this platform is to amplify diverse voices
and “good news” stories from within the disability community in Snohomish County and across the
region.



Do you have a story of inclusion you want to share?
Are you leading local advocacy efforts?
Has your family or loved one benefited from activities or programs in Snohomish County that are
designed to advance community inclusion?

We want to know! Email Whitney Stohr, Parent to Parent Coordinator, at whitney@arcsno.org or call
425-258-2459 x 106.

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The Arc Amplified is an online publication of The Arc of Snohomish County.
Learn more about our mission and values at arcsno.org.

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The Arc of Snohomish County: Focus on Transportation

Originally published by The Arc of Snohomish County in Leadership Newsletter (2021, Issue 3)

Transportation is an essential service of everyday life. Whether it’s going to the store, work, a doctor’s appointment, or simply visiting a friend, everyone needs transportation. For the DD [Developmental Disabilities] community, accessible transportation continues to be difficult to obtain.

SNOTRAC

Snotrac advocates for connecting people and communities in Snohomish County and beyond with safe, equitable, and accessible transportation. Snotrac’s priorities include creating & coordinating mobility services, education, outreach, and engagement, planning & design of livable communities, securing public support & funding, and emergency response coordination. For more information on Snotrac or to join in their advocacy efforts, check them out at https://www.gosnotrac.org/.

DISABILITY RIGHTS WASHINGTON

At Disability Rights Washington, access to transportation is consistently listed as one of the top concerns for their constituents. Those who can’t drive or don’t have access to a car are more likely to be disabled, BIPOC, indigenous, and immigrants. There are also elders and young people, as well as those who can’t afford to own or maintain a vehicle.

DRW believes in a model of change that begins with sharing stories with each other. DRW’s organizing and these stories will begin to shift the narrative that only drivers in Washington State have mobility needs worth prioritizing. Read DRW’s research paper, and if you’re a non-driver and live in Washington State, DRW wants to connect with you through their story map. For more information about DRW, check them out at https://www.disabilityrightswa.org/.

COMMUNITY TRANSIT TRAVEL TRAINING PROGRAM

Need help figuring out the bus system? Community Transit’s Travel Training program could be the tool you need. The Travel Training program is designed to teach the basic skills necessary to ride the Community Transit’s bus service. Travel Trainers ride with you during training, guiding you through the transit experience all the way to your destination. Travel Training is geared for anyone who needs a little extra help navigating the transit system, including

  • Senior citizens
  • Students
  • People with disabilities
  • Non-English speakers
  • New residents
  • New riders

The program is customized to meet your individual needs and can last from one hour to several sessions – as long as you need to feel safe and confident. Signing up is easy and there is no cost to you.

EVERETT TRANSIT

Everett Transit is committed to providing equal access to all services. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) prohibits discrimination and ensures equal opportunity and access for persons with disabilities. Information for Everett Transit ADA compliance and complaints can be found here.

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Contact: Email Leigh@arcsno.org or Jake@arcsno.org

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READ-ALOUD

The Legend of Spookley the Square Pumpkin

Read by Whitney Stohr, Parent to Parent Coordinator

Have you ever heard The Legend of Spookley the Square Pumpkin?

Do you know what he did? How he once saved Halloween for everyone?

Spookley the Square Pumpkin was different. All the other pumpkins teased him, until Spookley proved that being different can save the day!

Join Whitney Stohr, a Parent to Parent Coordinator at The Arc of Snohomish County, as she reads: The Legend of Spookley the Square Pumpkin, written by Joe Troiano and illustrated by Susan Banta (published 2001 by Holiday Hill Enterprises).

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Whitney Stohr is a Parent to Parent Coordinator at The Arc of Snohomish County. She is passionate about advocating for medically complex children and children with disabilities, and their families. She is a mom and medical caregiver herself, who is energized by working closely with other parent/family caregivers. She lives with her three-year-old son Malachi and husband Jason in Lynnwood.

Contact: whitney@arcsno.org.

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Supported Living in Arlington

Havalah is a 34 year old woman with I/DD and has lived in a house shared with older male roommate with Down syndrome for two years now.  A caregiver is on staff at the apartment 24 hours a day.   In a typical day, Havalah is learning how to take care of her home and a caregiver is there to prepare meals and assist with chores.  On Sundays, she enjoys the Voices of the Village concerts at Smokey Point.  She loves watching the kites at Boxcar Park in Everett.   A special treat is going to Courageous Connections to visit the horses.

Havalah’s caregiving is provided by Village Community Services.  Village is contracted through DDA.  Havalah’s CORE waiver allows her to receive 24 hour caregiving.  Her family takes comfort in knowing Village’s caregivers are specially trained in assisting adults with I/DD and are continually receiving education.  

Havalah pays for her reduced rent (due to a housing voucher) from her monthly SSI benefit.  The rest of her SSI goes towards other living expenses.  Her parents set up a special needs trust through the Developmental Disabilities Endowment Trust Fund.  She does not have an ABLE account yet although her parents will likely set up one soon.  Without an ABLE account, her account balance needs to remain under $2000.   Special Needs Trusts are able to pay for anything to make her life better like medical care, electronics, hobbies, and entertainment.  The trust is not designed for basic expenses because that is what SSI (public benefits) should be used for.

In order to receive services from Village, an individual must be qualified for a CORE waiver through DDA.  Village may be able to place a client in an apartment with other clients if there is a vacancy.   Village considers roommate compatibility and support needs among other factors when accepting clients.  In addition to caregiving, Village offers employment services and an experience learning center where clients gain life skills and job readiness in a fun environment.

If you want to start planning for your loved one’s independent living future, contact the Arc of Snohomish County and we can help you create a plan based on your vision.

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Courtney Criss, Independent Living Coordinator, The Arc of Snohomish County
Courtney@arcsno.org | 425-258-2459 ext. 113

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Community Residential Services for Adults

DDA Eligibility and Services Guide

Supported Living Program Locator

Understanding ABLE and DD Endowment Trust Fund

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What Can You Do to Stay Involved at Your Child’s School This Year?

 

After nearly two, long years of challenging schedules, remote learning and uncertainty, most of our kids have returned to in-person learning.

In. An. Actual. Classroom.

Can we get a round of applause?! Heck yes!

A special shout out to the real MVPs – the teachers, school staff and administrators at districts across Snohomish County – who leaned into the unprecedented challenges that arose over these past school years. Your courage and leadership are seen and valued. The way you rolled with every punch thrown your way was nothing short of inspiring.

While the pandemic is not (yet) past and strict precautions remain necessary, parents and families are, understandably, overjoyed to feel some sense of regularity returning to their lives. This pandemic era has been, in so many ways, a daily struggle for families – and especially, for families of children with unique circumstances, such as those living with developmental disabilities and high-risk medical conditions.

And, yet, in other ways, the abrupt deceleration of life that began with the onset of the pandemic, and the periods of isolated family time that followed, were, for many, a silver-lining that provided families an opportunity to grow closer, establish new traditions and take up hobbies. Parents and kids spent more time together, and, out of necessity, parents became directly involved in their children’s education.

But, what now?

Now that kids are back in school, what can parents do to remain so highly involved in their child’s schooling?

Here in Snohomish County, local school districts offer parents and family caregivers various opportunities to get involved. Do not hesitate to reach out to your child’s school or district office to inquire about specific avenues for parent engagement.

Consider the following ideas.

Become a “Classroom Parent,” aka the Go-To School Volunteer

Classroom TeacherPerhaps one of the best ways to stay abreast of your child’s education is to volunteer at their school. While volunteer access to school buildings is limited during the COVID-19 pandemic, parent volunteers are beginning to return to campus. For parents who work during the day, many schools also welcome volunteer help with events and activities, either before or after school, or in the evenings. For an example of a school volunteer program, visit the Arlington School District or Snohomish School District website.

Note: Remember to bring proof of vaccination against the COVID-19 virus if you intend to volunteer in local public schools. Vaccination will be required for many volunteer opportunities.

 

Join a Parent Organization

Joining a Parent Teacher Association (PTA) is an obvious avenue to connect with other involved parents and caregivers working to support your child’s school. The parents and family caregivers of students with disabilities may also consider joining (or even starting) a Special Education parent group such as the Special Education Advisory Council in the Edmonds School District or the Everett Special Education PTSA.

Serve on a District Committee

There are often openings for parents and family caregivers to serve as a volunteer on school and district-wide advisory committees. These advisory committees may be established for a variety of reasons, from facilities management and design to planning and developing policies and programs to advance equity, diversity and inclusion goals. The Mukilteo School District provides one example of the ways in which parent volunteers participate in district committees. Parent volunteers are often a welcome voice on these committees, and the input of parents of students with disabilities or other intersectional identities is especially valuable as it is informed by unique lived experiences.

Campaign for a Position on the School Board

Custom Graphic CampaigningPublic school districts are overseen by a board of local residents elected to serve in a leadership role. This group of elected officials is responsible for managing many critical aspects of the operation of the school district in which they are elected to serve. (Learn more about the role of a School Board here.) Election to a School Board affords parents and family caregivers the ability to significantly impact local schools. Imagine the shift in perspective that might occur within a district if parents of children with developmental disabilities were to be elected and serve in such important roles.

Start a Conversation

Of course, signing up as a school volunteer or launching an election campaign of your own are not the only methods of staying involved and attuned to your child’s academic needs and the school environment. Successful parent involvement may be as simple as investing time in conversations – certainly, with your own child, but also with others you happen to meet through their time at school. Reach out and schedule a quick phone call with their teacher. Establish a relationship with their therapists via email. Introduce yourself to the other parents waiting in the pick-up line after school. Get to know people. The networks we establish around ourselves can keep us involved and connected.

What about you?

How do you plan to get involved this school year?

 

Whitney Stohr is a Parent to Parent Coordinator at The Arc of Snohomish County. She is passionate about advocating for medically complex children and children with disabilities, and their families. She is a mom and medical caregiver herself, who is energized by working closely with other parent/family caregivers. She lives with her three-year-old son Malachi and husband Jason in Lynnwood. Connect with her online at whitney@arcsno.org.

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On September 21st, 2021, Snohomish County Economic Alliance hosted a virtual panel discussion on the topic of the “Untapped Workforce” – that is to say, the employment demographic comprised of historically overlooked (and, unfortunately, undervalued) populations of workers, including individuals with disabilities.

Guest speakers included Michelle Crowther and Bridget Espinola from Washington Vocational Services, an organization that matches the employment skills and talents of individuals with disabilities with the specific business needs of employers. Washington Vocational Services works in several counties throughout western Washington. Also present on the panel was Kate Mallahan from Orion Works, a Washington-based manufacturer of machine parts for the aerospace and defense industries, which is also a social enterprise and job training program in manufacturing and office skills. Orion Works maintains office space in both Auburn and Mukilteo.

View the recorded conversation HERE.

Snohomish County Economic Alliance (SCEA) is a non-profit organization that serves as both an economic development organization and a county-wide chamber of commerce. Visit the SCEA website at economicalliancesc.org.

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