SPAN The Bridge Newsletter pictorial graphic.  Your weekly access to SPAN news, resources and events.

February 28, 2024 | Issue 119 (View newsletter as webpage) Para leer este boletín en Español, haga clic aquí

Important News

A group photo of the SPAN staff at the Parents Inc event.

SPAN staff and SRP volunteers celebrating at the Parents Inc, Parent Leadership Recognition Event are joined by Christine Norbut Beyer (center, top), Commissioner of the NJ Dept. of Children & Families.

National Parent Leadership Month

February is National Parent Leadership Month, a time to recognize, honor, and celebrate parents' vital leadership roles in their homes and communities. Parents Inc. held its Annual Parent Leadership Recognition Event on Thursday, February 22 to honor parent leaders and promote Family Success. Each year at this event, Parents Inc. presents one honoree with their Jolly K Award.

SPAN is proud of our Jolly K Award Nominees: Heroina Beras, David Hock, Joann Nahamis, Cindy Sellitto, Paulina Vargas, Amanda Villamar, and Danielle Ward.

The Jolly K. Award was awarded to SPAN's very own Paulina Vargas for demonstrating strong parent leadership as modeled by Jolly K., the founding parent of Parents Inc (also knows as Parents Anonymous). This award is based on significant contributions to supporting the principles of Parents Anonymous: parent leadership, mutual support, shared leadership, and personal growth.

Congratulations Paulina! 

To learn more about Parents Anonymous, click here.

Photo of SPAN's Paulina Vargas holding the Jolly K Award, sanding beside SPAN's Carolyn Hayer

Pictured L to R: SPAN's Executive Director, Carolyn Hayer with Jolly K Award recipient Paulina Vargas.


US Department of Education logo

U.S. Dept. of Education’s Office for Civil Rights Releases New Resources on Students with Disabilities

On February 20, The Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) released four new resources with information for students, parents and families, and schools addressing civil rights of students with disabilities, as well as a data snapshot about education access for students with disabilities drawn from OCR’s 2020-21 Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC)


OCR issued these new resources to inform students with disabilities, and their families and schools, about their legal rights under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Section 504 prohibits discrimination against students with disabilities by institutions that accept federal financial assistance, which includes almost all public schools and public and private institutions of higher education.

To view the release announcement and the new resources, click here.

SPAN Youth Chat sign-up graphic

Join the SPAN Youth Chat Later Today!

Join us on the SPAN Youth Chat TODAY, February 28, from 4:15 to 5 pm for an engaging discussion with Dylan Campbell, Maine Parent Federation's Youth Coordinator.

Inspired by nature's resilience, just as Lodgepole Pine saplings thrive after wildfires, we will explore how embracing discomfort can lead to transformative opportunities. Let's share strategies on our experiences to break barriers and unlock new pathways to success.

For youth ages 14-26. To register, click here.

Black History Month graphic

Closing Out Black History Month

As we close out Black History Month tomorrow, let us all recommit ourselves to strive for racial justice and equality. Black History Month isn’t only about celebration, it’s also about changing perceptions and recognizing the strengths and contributions of the Black community.

Ways to continue your commitment:

  • Work to recognize your own biases and improve your own cultural awareness: Cultural Competence Self-Assessment Checklist
  • Interrupt everyday bigotry - speak up and express your refusal to tolerate racist/inappropriate comments, language, or acts in your presence: Speak Up! Handbook
  • Continue to educate yourself and others by sharing stories of Black excellence and triumph in appreciation of those who have come before us: StoryCorps
  • Recognize racial trauma as a mental health issue and seek or provide support to those experiencing those challenges: Mental Health America: Racial Trauma
  • You can Honor Black Excellence in Early Childhood by learning more about Black leaders who are on the front lines of racial justice. While you're there, be sure to check out the Black Joy Book Collection.

Black history is the collective history that shapes our experiences today. We hope you will find these resources useful in your efforts to make a difference in your own community. Remember, change starts with each of us.

Upcoming Events

SPAN offers a variety of learning opportunities for families and the professionals who work with them.

Highlighted Event This Week

Medicaid Unwinding Webinar Graphic English

Medical Coverage for Your Loved Ones with Disabilities

10AM - 12PM ET

Saturday, March 2

Via Zoom

Insurance is a critical necessity, particularly if your loved one has a disability. Insurance can be complicated because the rules can be different from insurer to insurer and your specific circumstances. Know that you are not alone. Learn about Medicaid redetermination (also as known as “Medicaid Unwinding”) and other medical coverage.

Confirmed speakers:

  • Jennifer Langer Jacobs, Assistant Commissioner, Division of Medical Assistance and Health Services, NJ Department of Human Services
  • Gwen Orlowski, Executive Director, Disability Rights New Jersey
  • Connor Griffin, Director of Health Care Advocacy, Arc of New Jersey

Multi-lingual closed captioning is available for this event.

For more information and to register, click here.

See all of SPAN's upcoming events with details and registration links here 

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SPAN Youth Hub image showing "How to be Assertive" as a sticky note image.

How to Be Assertive

Read our latest youth blog post, "How To Be Assertive," to seek guidance on assertiveness while staying honest and mature. 

To access the post, click here.

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