Disability Network Southwest Michigan quarterly newsletter
April 2019
Spring into the Outdoors!
Exploring Accessible Outdoor Recreation Areas

man in wheelchair on a trail in the woods
There is no denying it -- we had a pretty brutal winter here in Southwest Michigan this year, but that is all behind us now and it's time to get outside! Whether it's a visit to your local neighborhood park or an epic outdoor adventure, the benefits of fresh air and sunshine are tremendous.

If you are a person with a mobility disability, it can be intimidating to explore new recreational areas if you don't know what to expect. Fortunately, more and more recreational sites are providing accessibility and making that information known. Whatever your outdoor activity is, from trails to fishing, to a day at the beach, you can find your place in the sun!

Follow this link for our full article on finding accessible outdoor recreation areas.
Annual ADA Celebration Scheduled for July 26     
July 26

Mark your calendars and join us for a celebration of the twenty-ninth anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act on Friday, July 26 from 11:30 a.m. ­to 1:30 p.m. We are hosting a community-wide event at our Kalamazoo office, including a free lunch, awards, and speakers. We invite all community members and organizations to join us!
Berrien County Transportation Forum
Join the conversation!    
bus icon

Come be part of the conversation with representatives from the public transportation agencies serving Berrien County. This is an opportunity to share your concerns, raise issues, and ask questions about how you are directly affected by the transportation systems in your area. Representatives from area transportation agencies will be at this forum to hear your concerns and answer questions.

April 12, 2019 | 1:00 - 3:00 pm
2900 Lakeview Avenue, St. Joseph, Michigan

Follow this link for more information abut the Berrien County Community Forum on Transportation.
Meet James: Born to be an Advocate!   

The Transportation Forum described above would not be happening if James Ivey didn't make it happen. James is a young adult with a developmental disability and cerebral palsy who has a passion for the disability rights movement and isn't afraid to speak up about it. Through his involvement with the Michigan Developmental Disability Council and SAM board, James identified transportation as the biggest issue for people with disabilities in his area.

Disability Network staff worked with James to connect with community officials, politicians, and people with disabilities in his community to discuss issues around local public transportation and assisted him in planning a local transportation forum.

Follow this link to read more about James and his passion for advocacy.
Summer Employment Program for Young Adults   

young adults around a conference table
We are excited to be offering Advocacy Academy in both Kalamazoo and Battle Creek this year. Advocacy Academy is an eight-week, paid, summer program for youth and young adults. After an introduction to the Disability Rights Movement, participants will work as a group to select, plan and carry out a disability rights advocacy campaign.

We are currently accepting applications for Advocacy Academy 2019. We are seeking individuals with disabilities who are between 16-29 years of age, able to commit to the entire 8 week position, and are motivated to increase their leadership skills. Follow this link for more information or to apply for this year's Advocacy Academy.
You Can't Lose with an MiABLE Account!   

dollar sign
MiABLE is a state-operated, federally approved program where account holders and their loved ones can save and invest money without losing eligibility for government benefits like Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Medicaid. MiABLE accounts are available to individuals who develop their physical, developmental or mental disability before age 26.

With a MiABLE account, you can save and invest up to $15,000 per year to pay for expenses such as rent, tuition, vehicle purchases, healthcare, personal needs and long-term care. If you're employed, you may be able to contribute up to $12,140 of your income -- increasing the total yearly contribution limit to $27,140.

Follow this link for our full article on MiABLE Accounts.
Infinitely Polar Bear 
video cover for Infinitely Polar Bear

In April we wrap up our Lunch & Learn Movie Series with Infinitely Polar Bear, the true story of a father who is recovering from a manic breakdown and soon finds himself in over his head when he takes on the role of primary caregiver for his daughters while his wife returns to graduate school.

This event is being held in Kalamazoo, St. Joseph and Battle Creek. Follow this link for the details and to RSVP for the date and location you plan to attend.
Know Your Rights
Overview of laws protecting people with disabilities 

_Know your Rights_
Coming in May, this all new workshop will cover the laws which protect people with disabilities in the areas of employment, housing, education (K-12 & post-secondary), public places/access, voting, and transportation.

This event is being held in Kalamazoo, St. Joseph and Battle Creek. Follow this link for more information about the Know Your Rights workshop and to register for the date and location of your choice.
hands raised with hearts
We Love Our Volunteers!  

April is Volunteer Appreciation Month and we would like to honor our great volunteers! At Disability Network, our volunteers fill a variety of important roles including board and committee members, advocacy team members, front desk receptionists, ramp builders, and office support.

Thank you for all that you do!

Robert Argue | Patrick Banks | Battle Creek Area Habitat for Humanity | Stephen Bristow | Janet Brode | William Chapman | Cheryl Baker | Diane Dalm | Sharon DeHaan | Doc Doxzon | Ashlee Eichler | Esquare Carpentry | First Congregational Church St. Joseph | First Congregational Church of Kalamazoo | First United Methodist Church of Kalamazoo | Rick Freridge | Janet Germain | Julie Gray | Great Lakes Chapel  | Harvey Hanna | Harbor Habitat For Humanity | Robyn Hill | Eva Huddleston | John Huizinga | Impact Kalamazoo/Dale Miller | James Ivey | Shari Johns | Bob Kisiel | Kevin Klute | Konjoh Konjoh | Hayley Kreg | Tom Kruse | Mindy Kulasa | Ron Lambe | Bill McElhone |  Michelle Moxley | Karlissia Munn | Red Arrow Ministries | Ann Sanford | Pamela Scurry | Senior Services Southwest Michigan | Pat Simmons | Kirk Sims | Tim Sloan | Cheri Stoltzner | Brenda Stubbs | Jill Tooman | Patti Townsend | David Vinci | Jeff Visser | Westwood Christian Reformed

Michigan Alliance for Families Workshops 
MAF logo
Michigan Alliance for Families (MAF) will be hosting workshops in both our Kalamazoo and St. Joseph offices in the coming months. MAF is a statewide resource to connect children with disabilities to resources to help improve their education.

At our St. Joseph Office:
IEP Support Services
Wednesday, April 24 | 8:30 - 9:30 a.m.  
Extended School Year
Wednesday, May 29 | 8:30 - 9:30 a.m.
Inclusion: Free & Appropriate Education
Wednesday, June 26 | 8:30 - 9:30 a.m.

At our Kalamazoo Office:
Getting & Keeping the First Job
Wednesday, May 1 | 11:30 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
About Disability Network Southwest Michigan
Disability Network Southwest Michigan serves 8 counties in Southwest Michigan: Barry, Berrien, Branch, Calhoun, Cass, Kalamazoo, St. Joseph, Van Buren

Office Locations:
Kalamazoo: 517 E. Crosstown Pkwy., Kalamazoo, MI  49001, phone: (269) 345-1516
St. Joseph: 2900 Lakeview Avenue., St. Joseph, MI 49085, phone: (269) 985-0111

For the accessibility and well-being of our employees and visitors, Disability Network Southwest Michigan is a fragrance-free office. Please do not wear perfume, cologne or other scented products when visiting.

Mission Statement:
We educate and connect people with disabilities to resources while advocating social change.

Vision Statement:
Our vision is a community that values disability as human diversity, free of attitudinal barriers, where all people benefit with full access and inclusion.

Our Publications:
The LINK is our quarterly newsletter, available in printed format or emailed in electronic format and is available in alternative format upon request.
Disability Digest is a monthly e-newsletter focused on the Disability Rights Movement and upcoming Disability Network happenings. Available in electronic format only.

You can sign up online for our publications at www.dnswm.org, or contact Dale at
abbottd@dnswm.org or (269) 345-1516 x123.Current and past issues of our publications are available on our website at www.dnswm.org.

This newsletter is available in alternative format upon request.

Support Our Work:
You can help support the work we do with a tax-deductible donation to Disability Network. Visit our website to donate online or call Kristen at (269) 345-1516 x119.