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

October 4, 2023 | Issue 99 (View newsletter as webpage) Para leer este boletín en Español, haga clic aquí

Important News

Photo of Commissioner Christine Norbet Beyer on our State Agency Updates and Leadership Opportunities Panel

(Pictured: Commissioner Christine Norbert Beyer, NJ Department of Children and Families)

"Thank You" to All SPAN Parent Leadership Conference Participants, Presenters and Sponsors!

The 2023 SPAN Parent Leadership Conference is a wrap!

As the rainy weather began to break this past Saturday, our welcome breakfast was just beginning, fueling attendees for a total of 20 breakout sessions throughout the day and a panel of state leaders providing agency updates from the NJ Department of Children and Families, NJ Department of Labor - Department of Vocational Rehabilitation Services, NJ Department of Education, and the NJ Department of Health.

SPAN staff were on hand to provide any guidance needed by attendees, and lunch was also provided to allow for even more parent networking.

As the sun began to shine by the afternoon, an abundance of resource and knowledge sharing had taken place.

SPAN would like to once again thank all of our valued sponsors: New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice, Parents, Inc., NJEA, Hackensack Meridian Children's Health, Benway School, and Elizabeth Stone-Sterling.

Photos of the event will be added to the Conference page on our website shortly.

Photo of Dr. Chinwe Osondu, Ed. D., Asst. Director, NJ Dept. of Education, Office of Special Education, Division of Educational Services
Photo of Amy M. Hoehman, MS, LRC, CRC, CPRP, NCC, BC-TMH, Supervising Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor, DVRS, NJ Department of Labor

(Pictured, top: Dr. Chinwe Osondu, Ed.D., Assistant Director, NJ Department of Education, Office of Special Education, Division of Educational Services; bottom: Amy M. Hoehman, MS, LRC, CRC, CPRP, NCC, BC-TMH, Supervising Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor, DVRS, NJ Department of Labor)


Image of Dan and Samuel Habib holding the Emmy Award

My Disability Roadmap Documentary Wins Emmy Award!

In a prior issue of The Bridge, we shared with you information about My Disability Roadmap, a documentary produced by Dan Habib and his son Samuel.

Here's the film's premise as explained on the film website: "Samuel Habib, 21, wants to date, leave home, go to college. But he drives a 350-pound wheelchair, uses a communication device, and can have a seizure at any moment. Determined to find his path forward, he seeks out guidance from America’s most rebellious disability activists."

Samuel engages in a series of interviews with activists like Judy Heumann. The entire lead cast on the project, and the majority of the production and outreach crew, are people with disabilities.

On September 27, My Disability Roadmap won an Emmy!

To watch Samuel's acceptance speech, click here.

To watch and share the film, click here.

NIH Designates People With Disabilities as a Population With Health Disparities

NIH logo

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has officially decided to include people with disabilities as a health disparities population. The decision reflects years of advocacy and follows the recommendations of a subgroup of advisors to the NIH director that included people with disabilities and experts in disability-focused research. It means that people with disabilities will be included in NIH funding and programs focused on addressing health disparities, thereby also increasing the representation of researchers with disabilities and improving inclusion of people with disabilities in research studies. This important step will serve to address the exponential health equity barriers that disabled people from intersecting marginalized groups face - including people of color, people from the LBGTQ+ community, people who live in rural areas, and people who have low incomes.

 “Access to quality health care is a basic human right. It is unacceptable that in 2023, every person in the United States of America does not have that access,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “Research to understand the barriers and unmet needs faced by people with disabilities, and to develop effective interventions to address them, is needed. This designation will help to improve access to healthcare and health outcomes for all people.” 

To read the full NIH announcement, click here.

Upcoming Events

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

Highlighted Event This Week

Decorative image

Join Us for a Parent Circle!

Wednesday, October 11



Parent Circles are informal virtual meetings hosted by SPAN's NJ Inclusive Child Care Project in an effort to provide opportunities for families with young children as well as early childhood professionals to engage in conversations on a variety of topics related to supporting the healthy social-emotional development of young children. These meetings are offered in Spanish as well.

Families and caregivers can expect to receive helpful strategies and resources, including several from the Positive Solutions for Families training (an evidence-based, family-friendly workshop of seven sessions). Please follow us on Eventbrite to be notified when we add more!

Big Emotions/Little Kids:

  • Discuss how children can express & address their emotions in a healthy way
  • Describe the underlying issues that are causing the “big emotions” 
  • Review strategies to address school refusal and burnout at home
  • Identify tools you can use to collaborate with your child’s teacher

Questions? Email:

[email protected] or

[email protected] 

To register, click here.

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

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LEAD Project Introduces Prioritizing Self-Care

Read our latest youth blog post, "LEAD Project Introduces Prioritizing Self-Care," featuring our guests from the Leaders Empowered as Advocates with Dignity (LEAD), who shared insightful tips on healthy eating, decreasing stress, and designing a self-care plan.

To access the post, click here.

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