Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Please complete survey by July 23rd!

Dear Friend:

Last spring, The Arc of Indiana’s Education and Governmental Affairs Committees came together after a conversation with Superintendent of Public Instruction, Dr. Tony Bennett, to brainstorm on issues facing special education.

Now that they have identified key issues, they would like a broader discussion on prioritizing these issues. We are requesting your help!

The Arc of Indiana has put these issues on-line and would like you to send this information out to everyone you think may be interested in education issues. The more input the better.

Dr. Bennett is very interested in hearing what the primary issues are facing special education from a family and advocate perspective.

The deadline for people to get on-line is Friday, July 23. After that the Arc will be putting together a report for Dr. Bennett and the education team. The report will also be on The Arc of Indiana’s website.

Thank you in advance for helping us with this endeavor. We feel it is very important to get as much input as possible and appreciate your time in making this happen.

Here are the directions for participation:

Browse to (no www.) and log in with the following information:

Meeting ID: 14669
Passkey: bennett
E-mail: Your e-mail
Username: Your name

To get started: Double-click “Dr. Bennett Session” in the menu on the left hand side, then you will enter the voting area.

Read through the ballot items on the right. You can slide the vertical red line (left of the Priority tab) left or right to adjust the viewing window to expand the pane and show more or less text. You may also double click the item to see it in full.

To vote: Under priority, click and drag the slider bar from 1 to 5, 5 being the highest priority.

Once you have finished, click Vote on the silver bar at the top, then Cast Vote and your vote will be entered. If you have not voted 1-5 on all of the ballot items, you will be prompted to do so when attempting to cast your vote.

For technical support please feel free to e-mail us at

This request has been sent to several groups. If for some reason you are unable to logon to the sight, it may be because it is full. Please be patient and try again at a later time. Please keep in mind that the deadline to participate is Friday, July 23.

We look forward to everyone’s feedback!


Kim Dodson
Associate Executive Director

Jeff Huffman
Education Committee Chairman

Saturday, July 17, 2010

A Letter of Gratitude

It is a pleasure and an honor to pay tribute to an amazing family that has truly made a positive impact on the lives of individuals with Down syndrome in their local community, their state and the entire nation!

I proudly serve as the Executive Director of Down Syndrome Indiana and can easily tell you that neither myself nor the organization could be what it is today without the effective leadership and guidance of Joe Bockerstette! In 2007, Joe began leading the Indiana Down Syndrome Foundation through a strategic planning process that lasted approximately nine months. During those nine months an amazing team of individuals under the direction of Joe met during countless evenings and Saturday mornings where Joe graciously drove down from Fort Wayne to assist and facilitate a plan that gave birth to a much improved organization. Even after the plan was adopted by the Board of Directors and the organization given the new name, Down Syndrome Indiana, Joe continued to nurture the bonds by coming down to Indy annually to review, check progress, offer suggestions and keep us on track!

One of my favorite children’s movies is an animated film called, Robots. In the movie, the main character, Rodney, says over and over, “see a need, fill a need”. I love the concept of being successful because you find a gap that needs to be filled and you take leadership, step up and just fill it. This is exactly what Joe has done with our organization. He could tell that the then Indiana Down Syndrome Foundation was in need of guidance and he stepped up and voluntarily led us through nine months of strategic planning to the rebirth of the organization now known as Down Syndrome Indiana.

Joe, you have done so much for an organization that is near and dear to my heart that I have no idea how to ever repay your kindness. So, Down Syndrome Indiana would like to make a donation in the name of Amy Bockerstette to the Joshua O’Neill and Zeshan Tabani Enrichment Fund. In addition, we promise to stay true to the mission of enhancing the lives of individuals with Down syndrome that you helped us to develop. Our mission is to serve as a conduit of information, support and advocacy for individuals with Down syndrome and their families, which promotes growth and inclusion in the community. Joe, we have always been proud to say that you were a fellow Hoosier and we will miss you dearly when you move to another state but, your move is just another testament to your dedication as it helps you grow the Ds community a little more!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Pass the Able Act!

I would like to ask each of you to consider contacting your member in the US House of Representatives and ask him to help pass the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act. The ABLE Act will allow individuals with disabilities to create a disability savings account or 'ABLE Accounts' that would accrue interest tax-free. The account could fund a variety of essential expenses for the individual, including medical and dental care, education, community based supports, employment training, assistive technology, housing, and transportation. See the additional details below from the National Down Syndrome Society.

Congressman Ander Crenshaw sponsored this very important legislation. I could try and tell you all about it, but Congressman Crenshaw’s recent Op Ed piece in the Washington Times says it more eloquently than I could ever hope to. Please read about it here:

It is important to take action now! The ABLE Act enjoys strong bi-partisan support in the US House of Representative with 184 representative that have signed on as co-sponsors of this important legislation. As many of you know, the 111th Congress is quickly drawing to a close. If we do not pass this now, we will be starting all over again in the 112th Congress. Many disability advocacy groups have put in countless long hours walking the halls of congress to educate our representatives on the importance of the ABLE Act and the positive impacts it will have on families and individuals with disabilities. Let’s not lose the momentum.

Please call your congressman!. The good news is that most of our representatives in Indiana are already co-sponsors (Steve Buyer and Baron Hill are the only exceptions), so you will be asking them to help move this important legislation out of committee and to the floor of the house for a full vote. And to make it easy, the National Down Syndrome Society has provided a script that you can use when you call. To find your US House Member and the script click on the Take Action link below:
Take Action!

Thank you,
Tom Milvert
Down Syndrome Indiana
Governmental Affairs Committee Chair


Contact Your Representatives to Convene a Hearing and Vote on the ABLE Act Today

As you know, the National Down Syndrome Society endorsed the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act (ABLE) of 2009 (S. 493/H.R. 1205). The ABLE Act will give individuals with disabilities and their families the ability to save for their child's future just like every other American family, and help people with disabilities live full, productive lives in their communities. The ABLE Act will allow individuals with disabilities to create a disability savings accounts or 'ABLE Accounts' that would accrue interest tax-free. The account could fund a variety of essential expenses for the individual, including medical and dental care, education, community based supports, employment training, assistive technology, housing, and transportation.

The legislation continues to have widespread, bipartisan support. Currently, H.R. 1205 has 184 cosponsors, including 19 members of the House Ways & Means Committee.

The time to pass this bill is now- Please contact your Representatives to encourage them to convene a hearing and vote on the ABLE Act today!