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Celebration of Champions: An Evening to Benefit Starbridge

May 13, 2017 ~ 6:00-11:00pm

Holiday Inn Rochester Downtown, 70 State St, Rochester, NY 14614

Join us for a festive and inspiring evening as we honor people and organizations creating positive change in the lives of people who have disabilities, and raise funds to support Starbridge’s programs connecting people with the HOPE and the HOW. Don Alhart of 13WHAM-TV will serve as emcee for the event.
We are pleased to be honoring two Outstanding Community Partners: George Gray, Individual Award; and Wegmans, Organization Award

If you or your company would like to sponsor this celebration, please contact Krystyna Staub at (585) 224-7247 or email kstaub@starbridgeinc.org. For updated information or to purchase tickets, please visit the event webpage.

Community Awards

Our annual Community Awards honor people and organizations creating positive change in the lives of people who have disabilities. Award recipients are invited as guests to our Celebration of Champions. Each recipient is recognized for their contributions.

Would you like to nominate someone for one of our 2017 Community Awards? Please submit a Nomination. The packet is available on our website. Nominations must be turned in by March 17, 2017

Award Descriptions

Community Impact Award: An individual or organization who creates inclusive opportunities in the community for people who have disabilities

Education Award: A devoted individual in the field of education whose extraordinary efforts empower students who have disabilities to succeed

Founders Award: A parent or family member of a person who has a disability who exemplifies our founders’ commitment through their efforts to improve the quality of life for people who have disabilities

Self Advocacy Award: A person who has a disability who leads the direction of his or her daily life through advocacy, personal choice, and responsibility

Youth Award: A person age 21 or younger, whose efforts make a positive difference in the lives of people who have disabilities

To read more about the 2015 winners and their stories, go to http://www.starbridgeinc.org/2015-community-awards

Thank you for helping us to recognize outstanding people and organizations in our community!


What Is Social Capital?

Dr. Al Condeluci, PH.D., is CEO of Community Living and Support Services (CLASS), teaches at the University of Pittsburgh, and writes, speaks, and consults on issues related to culture, community, and social capital.

"Social Capital" is the value that relationships bring to our lives. In his books, university lectures, consultations, and in nation-wide presentations, Al describes how people who have disabilities often have less social capital, and how damaging that can be.

Research shows that health, happiness, jobs, advancement in work, and longevity are all tied to social capital.

Parents, educators, and health care providers focus on providing support to meet important developmental and educational goals. But one crucial area that is often overlooked — maybe because it can be difficult to achieve or requires extra cultivation — is social engagement, the need for friends and connectedness.

"Social capital, relationships, and networks among people who share resources with one another, is essential to the successful transition into adulthood for all individuals—with or without disabilities." – Social Capital During the Postsecondary Transition for Young Adults with High Incidence Disabilities, By Audrey A. Trainor, Ph.D., Mary Morningstar, Ph.D., Angela Murray, Ph.D., and Hyejung Kim, M.A.

"We as parents have to learn the technology, too. Our kids are smart and know their way around a computer. We have barely mastered Facebook when we realize our kids are also using Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter. We need to protect our kids and make sure they are making good decisions. This is not always easy!" – Laura Arrington, Family and Youth Education Coordinator, Starbridge

Books about friendship/inclusion/anti-bullying for young children:

Strictly No Elephants, Written by Lisa Mantchev and Illustrated by Taeeun Yoo. Suggested Audiences: Pre-Kindergarten and older

Stick and Stone, Written by Beth Ferry, Illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld. Suggested Audiences: Ages 4-8

– from Pacer Center’s Book Club


Four Steps to Building Social Capital

1. Find what the person has in common with others

That could be any interest or activity: reading, golf, computers, music, dance, nature walks, drawing, movies, or video games, etc.

2. Find a matching community venue that meets on a regular basis

Is there a club or group in the community focused on this activity? It might be a book club, drumming circle, gardening club, or hiking group.

3. Understand how the group or club works

What is expected of people in this group? How do the members behave? What jargon do they use? Share this information with the person who has a disability as it relates to them.

4. Find a "gatekeeper"

A gatekeeper is a person already in the group who can introduce a new person to the group. Maybe your neighbor or co-worker pitches for a community softball team. He could be a gatekeeper for your daughter who wants to play softball. Everyone in the group knows the gatekeeper and will readily accept the new member if the gatekeeper brings the person in.


Change – What Does It Take? by Dr. Al Condeluci

I chose a career in Human Services because I wanted to help people be more included in the greater community. Growing up I witnessed how people treated my cousin Carrie, who had Down syndrome, and although she was a natural part of our family, often the greater community members treated her in negative and distantiated ways. These negative behaviors prompted me into the field.

When I started graduate school of social work at the University of Pittsburgh we talked about being “change agents,” and I took the moniker to heart. Initially, I was taught that the change that was needed for Carrie to be accepted rested more with how she functioned and behaved. The manifestations of her Down syndrome suggested that she needed to learn things to behave more "normally" to fit into the community.

After years of trying this route it became clear to me that the change that was needed did not lie with Carrie, but rested more in the behaviors of the greater community. This kind of change, we call "macro change," is much more challenging and hard to realize. It demands a shift in thinking, and moving outside of the box.

This kind of change also starts with an external recognition that seems to defy that which seems clear. It is captured in a quote I recently saw attributed to Henry Ford. He said: "The light bulb was not the result of continuous improvement of the candle." This quote suggests that meaningful change might require that we move to another platform.

Einstein famously said: "The problems we face today cannot be solved with the same level of thinking that created them." Both of these quotes suggest a paradigm shift from what seems obvious to a better, more evolved place.

People in the greater community see disabilities as the problem, when, in fact, the real problem might be their attitudes. So the next time you are looking at a problem that needs solved, or a change that needs to occur, look again. It might be that the solution lies in another place.

– January 24, 2017 


Advantages & Risks of Social Networking

Advantages of Social Networking

Social skills

Social networking allows people to keep up with current friends and make new ones. When used in the right way, social media can increase self-esteem and help someone feel less isolated.

Independence and self-expression

Creating your own "home page" allows people to express themselves and discuss their interests. They can join groups, support fan pages, and find out about other people's interests.

Digital competence

Technology is evolving faster than ever. As teens and young adults adapt to new technologies (or new applications of existing technologies), they will be better equipped to adapt to future technology.

Educational development

Young adults in secondary and post-secondary education will often use social networking to discuss schoolwork and share discussions about assignments.


Young adults can gather information about topics that are hard to discuss with others, such as drug use and sexual health.

Additional advantages for youth who have disabilities:

Social networking can open up a new world of communication, integration, and community participation. Young adults can express themselves, including their thoughts and feelings, more easily and without fear of the rejection or stigma they may experience in real life. Research also suggests that these young adults may be more willing to ask for help online than in face-to-face situations. Furthermore, young adults who experience difficulty with social skills can socialize anonymously, and can experiment with different personas and practice initiating and maintaining online friendships. They can also respond to others by taking advantage of having time to review and edit communications before sending it on.
Ultimately, this skill may carry over into "real life" and give a sense of new courage to make and maintain friendships in everyday life.


Risks of Social Networking

Sharing personal information with the wrong crowd

Young adults need to be aware that information given out online could also put them at risk of victimization. People looking to do harm could use posted information to identify them, gain their trust, or pretend to know a young person. Encourage young people to privatize their online social networking accounts (such as Facebook and Twitter).


Harassment may occur online only (cyberbullying), or it may spill over to offline bullying committed by a person who has located his victim online. Cyberbullying can cause significant emotional harm resulting in depression, anger, school avoidance, violence, and suicide.

The permanency of online profiles

Once information has been shared on the Internet, it’s out there — forever! Retrieving information that others have read and captured is nearly impossible. Inappropriate pictures, captions, and comments could come back to haunt youth as they start applying to colleges or looking for jobs.


People tend to be far bolder and less discreet with information shared online versus in person. This means there is a greater risk of giving out information including the presence of a disability that, given a second thought, we might not have wanted to disclose.

Additional potential risks for youth who have disabilities:

Social networking may further isolate those who may already feel isolated or not included, and can ultimately lead to depression and loneliness. Also, young adults who have disabilities must make important life decisions regarding disclosure of their disability (if, how, when, and to whom). Unintended disclosure is possible by posting pictures or becoming fans of disability support groups, for example. While this might not be an issue, it makes the "disclosure" discussion even more important.

For more information on disability disclosure, see The 411 on disability disclosure: A workbook for youth with disabilities (available online at: http://www.ncwd-youth.info/411-on-disability-disclosure) and Cyber Disclosure for Youth with Disabilities (available online at: http://www.ncwd-youth.info/cyber-disclosure).

Social Media Facts and Tips

Kids ages 8-18 spend 7 hours and 38 minutes per day online.

  • 95% of teens use the internet
  • 77% of teens use Facebook
  • 53% of teens use Instagram
  • 24% of teens use Twitter
  • 10% of teens use Tumblr

Common Sense Rules Apply Online:

  • Don't talk to strangers
  • Look both ways... don't enter contests, join clubs, share personal information...
  • If the offer seems too good to be true, then it probably is.

From Julie Buick, Family, Education Specialist, Starbridge


Calendar of Events

Family Skill Building Series

A half-day series to boost your educational efforts

March 25, 10:00am-1:30pm at Arc of Yates County, 240 Powell Lane, Penn Yan, NY 14527 (Behind Keuka School)

Individualized Education Program: The Essentials ~ 10:00-11:30am

When a child qualifies for special education services, federal law requires the development of a document, called an Individualized Education Program. The IEP serves as a roadmap for services, including important information about a child’s levels of performance and needs, as well as goals for the child. This workshop will prepare participants to actively participate on the IEP team.

Preventing Parent Burnout for Parents of Children Who Have Special Needs ~ 12:00-1:30pm

Extraordinary parenting responsibilities create extraordinary pressures on parents. At the same time, parenting a child with special needs requires energy, focus, and enthusiasm. The better off we are emotionally and physically, the better off our families will be. Join us to discover positive ways to cope with and effectively manage stress.


To register please go to the event calendar on our website or call Registration at 585-224-7399. Please request special accommodations at least two weeks before the event.

Discipline and Suspension: Understanding the Rights of Students Who Have Disabilities

March 27, 6:00-7:30pm

Charles Settlement House, 71 Parkway, Rochester, NY 14608

Did you know there is a difference between general discipline procedures and discipline procedures for students with disabilities? Children with disabilities have specific rights under state and federal laws when it comes to suspensions and school discipline. This workshop will provide an overview of these rights and the process used for discipline and suspensions. Participants will learn about Functional Behavioral Assessments and how to create a proactive behavior management plan to help avoid future conflict.


Registration is required. This workshop is FREE to family members. To register, please go to the event calendar on our website or call Registration at 585-224-7399. Refreshments will be served.

How to Be a Good Advocate for Your Child Through Communication

March 13, 6:00-7:30 pm at Allegany Arc Shine Habilitation Center, 240 O’Connor St, Wellsville, NY 14895
March 16, 6:00-7:30pm at Jamestown Community College, 240 N Union St, Olean, NY 14760

Do you come away from meetings not saying what you intended or feeling as though your viewpoint is misunderstood? Do you listen to what other team members say? How do you respond? Communication is key to effective partnerships. Learn to recognize the barriers in communication that can get in the way of collaboration and positive outcomes. Strengthen your advocacy skills by learning effective and collaborative communication strategies.


Registration is required. This workshop is FREE to family members. To register please go to the event calendar on our website or call Registration at 585-224-7399. Please request special accommodations at least two weeks before the event.

Pizza and beverages will be available. Either a gas card or a grocery gift card will be available for each participant.

How to Create an Advocacy Notebook for Your Child

April 10, 6:00-7:30pm at Allegany Arc Shine Habilitation Center, 240 O’Connor St, Wellsville, NY 14895
April 13, 6:00-7:30pm at Jamestown Community College, 240 N Union St, Olean, NY 14760

An advocacy notebook is an indispensable tool for every educational team member, especially families and educators. Combining individual vision, family input, educational recommendations and professional references creates a powerful springboard to advocate for your student. This workshop provides participants with the skills, knowledge, and resources to maintain the documentation and records needed for effective advocacy. Participants will leave equipped with a notebook, handouts, reproducible forms, correct educational and legal terms, and greater confidence in communicating with the whole team.


Registration is required. This workshop is FREE to family members. To register, please go to the event calendar on our website or call Registration at 585-224-7399.

Pizza and beverages will be available. Either a gas card or a grocery gift card will be available for each participant.

Family Empowerment Series

Are you a family member of a child who has disabilities?

Take part in a free, seven-session training to learn about the special education process and acquire skills to effectively advocate for your child! This series is open to families of children with developmental, educational and suspected disabilities.



Saturdays ~ 9:30am – 2:00pm ~ March 29, April 12, May 3 and May 17

Cayuga Community College, 197 Franklin St. Auburn, NY 13021


April 5, April 26 and May 19

  • Can be completed anytime during those weeks!
  • Will be completed through http://moodle.starbridgeonlinelearning.org/
  • Independent computer access is required

REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED. To register, please go to http://supac.org/spring-2017-family-empowerment-series-registration/ or call (315) 443-4336 or 1-877-824-9555.

Please request special accommodations at least two weeks before the event.

Friends Helping Friends Monthly Meetings

Wednesdays, March 15, April 19, May 17, 4:30-7:00pm, at Starbridge

Friends Helping Friends is a group for self-advocates and their supporters. Friends believe all individuals have value, talents, and gifts. We will not be defined by a label or the limitations of disability. We believe that with determination, we can achieve anything we put our minds to.
Join us on Facebook by liking the Friends Helping Friends page.

Educational Webinars and Videos: a great fit for your busy schedule

Are you looking for opportunities to learn from our experienced presenters? We have informational videos and recordings of many of our webinars available free of charge. Just a few of our titles include: Preparing for the Annual Review, Overview of the CSE Process, ABCs of a School Meeting, and Advocacy Steps.

See our website for more: www.starbridgeinc.org/resources/webinar-recordings


From the Editor

As parents of children who have disabilities, we are often concerned about them forming meaningful relationships. Our kids may have communication difficulties, cognitive and emotional challenges, or physical barriers that can prove problematic.

Step 1 in Building Social Capital (See page 4) is to find what interests the person has in common with others. Step 2 involves finding a matching community group that meets on a regular basis.

In my family's case, our son, Nick, has a passion for movies. But we couldn’t find a "movie club" near us that meets on a regular basis.

Nick's Community Hab staff person, Kristen, decided to help Nick facilitate the creation of a movie club. She asked Nick to pick out movies he wanted to share and to type the titles. While he typed titles, Kristen found an online tool that alphabetized the list. A few weeks later, they approached our town's library and asked if the library might partner with Nick by providing a space for him to share movies from his collection. He presented the librarian with several pages of typewritten movie titles to show how much he had to share. After a couple of meetings and conversations, Nick's Action Movie Club was created.

After the initial meeting in February, Nick's project has already taught him how he can transform a mostly solitary pursuit into a social one. By sharing with others, Nick is taking his love of movies to a new level. Even the simple act of inviting Facebook friends to attend has already opened up some new conversations.

We hope that this endeavor will help to build Nick's social network and provide community members an enjoyable, free, action movie per month. I'll let you know in future issues how the club is progressing.

– Maria Schartel



NYS Partners in Policymaking

New York State Partners in Policymaking®

Want to learn about NYS Partners in Policymaking? Please visit: www.nyspip.org.

Interested in becoming a NYS Partner in Policymaking? The 2017 class runs from April 3rd to September. A special introductory session will take place April 3-4 in Albany and the class will continue via webinar sessions until September. Learn more about Partners and complete your 2017 application now at http://nyspip.org/apply


Publication Information

This newsletter is published by
1650 South Avenue, Suite 200
Rochester, NY 14620
(585) 546-1700

Funding is partially provided by a Family Support Services Grant by the OPWDD (Office for People With Developmental Disabilities) and by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services.

Publication within this journal of articles and information should not be considered an endorsement by Starbridge and/or the funders.

EDITOR: Maria Schaertel

DESIGN & PRINT: On the Move Contracting Services - Maát Reed and Sarah Stein

This issue underwritten by James Traylor, Upstate Special Needs Planning