Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Highlights from the NYS Association of Black & Puerto Rican Legislators Conference

On Saturday, February 13th, Sinergia Deputy Executive Director Michael Mitchell attended the Gouverneur Parents Association’s Twelfth Annual Seminar at the NYS Association of Black and Puerto Rican Legislators Conference held at the Empire State Plaza in Albany, New York. The event drew hundreds of parents, service providers and vendors that serve people with disabilities and their families. In attendance were many distinguished guests including Assemblyman Adam Clayton Powell IV (right) and Diana Jones Ritter, the commissioner of New York State Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities (OMRDD).

Sinergia participated in a session entitled “Parents and Consumers: Identifying Needs and Finding Alternatives”, whose main purpose was to discuss ways to continue and improve services while working under the constraints of today’s tight fiscal environment. The session, moderated by Jose Rivera of UCP Nassau (left, with Willie Mae Goodman), included various service providers and OMRDD staff who all gave examples of initiatives they have implemented to continue or even improve services while saving resources.

The final speaker was OMRDD Commissioner Diana Jones Ritter, who while reminding all of the realities of operating under a tight state budget, also pointed out that OMRDD was the only NY state agency to actually be the recipient of an increase and the restoration of the trend factor. Ms. Jones Ritter also discussed her personal concerns on continuing to provide quality services while working under fiscal constraints. See a video of this portion of the commissioner’s speech below. Also on hand was Self Advocacy Association member Tony Phillips who eloquently reminded all that the business we are all in is to provide assistance to people.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Sinergia Participates in Self Advocacy Pilot Program for Parents of Children with Disabilities

Sinergia is participating in piloting the curriculums of the Family Advocacy and Support Training project (FAST), a Project of National Significance with funding from the Administration on Developmental Disabilities (ADD). It focuses on the development of training modules to teach families and their children to become self-advocates. We invite parents to participate in one or more of the upcoming free pilot workshops listed below (for more details of each session visit our calendar of events). Your feedback will help to ensure that training materials are appropriate and effective.

Getting and Keeping the First Job
Monday, February 22, 2010 10:00am to 12:00pm
Presenter: Lizzette Dunn-Barcelona

Skills for Effective Parent Advocacy
Wednesday, February 24, 2010 10:00 am to 12:00 pm
Presenter: Cassandra Archie

Working for Change: Using the Power of a Personal Story
Thursday, February 25, 2010 10:00am to 12:00 pm
Presenter: Cassandra Archie
Please bring a picture of your child for the workshop.

The Journey to Adulthood: What Parents Need to Know (Sexuality)

Friday, February 26, 2010 11:00am to 1:00 pm
Presenter: William Bird

Location: Sinergia, 2082 Lexington Avenue, 4th Floor
Dr. Nivia Zavala Conference Center
New York, NY 10035
RSVP: (212) 643-2840

The first phase of the collaboration took place in December. It involved conducting discussions with five parent support groups at Sinergia for feedback from underserved and underrepresented families of children with disabilities.

Each focus group was conducted in Spanish, and facilitated by a Sinergia staff person that was familiar to and had the trust of the participants. The groups were held on weekdays at different times of the day and lasted for two hours. Facilitators were provided with a set of open ended questions that were asked of each focus group and recorded. These are some sample questions and answers from focus groups held at Sinergia:

Question: What type of trainings appeal to you?
"A workshop to prepare parents for their children's independence - for those parents having difficulty letting go"

Question: What would be the most successful way of gaining your participation in a survey 3 months after training to find out if the information was helpful?
"Internet - we need to know how to use the internet because our children know how to use it and we must be able to supervise them and we need to get the knowledge"

Question: What do you think your son or daughter will be doing as an adult?
"My daughter will be an artist or dancer because she is talented artistically"

Question: Have you seen or known of people with disabilities who are in relationships?
"I have seen normal people in a relationship, the thought of my child being in a relationship concerns me because I don't want him being taken advantage of"

Question: Have you ever needed to speak on your child's behalf to an educator or professional?

Please email us at if you're interested in participating in the upcoming focus group sessions.