Saturday, February 26, 2011

Arc Artisans

Let’s close out February, the month where DSI emphasized Self Advocacy with a brief article about the Arc Artisans. I visited their art workshop last month and as many of you know, I have several pieces of their artwork and am a huge fan of the work they do!

Arc Artisans is an entrepreneurial program where emerging artists at Arc Rehab Services and professional artists from the Central Indiana community come together to create artwork and develop skills in creative expression, craftsmanship and small business management. Artists are active in all areas of design, production and marketing. All proceeds from the sale of artwork go directly back into the program.

The Artisans have quite a few things on their plate right now. For one, they are hosting their first art show from March 3rd to March 25th at Sugar Creek Art Center. More information on this can be found on their Facebook page. In addition, they are beginning to make items from old sweaters. If you would like to donate gently used sweaters to their program, you can send them to Arc Services, c/o Arc Artisans, 900 West Main Street, Lebanon, IN 46052.

Arc Artisans is happy to take special orders for custom pieces and commissioned artwork. You can visit their website at or you can call 765-482-6815 ext. 103.
You will be able to find artwork by the artisans in the silent auction during the Down Syndrome Indiana Fashion Show Gala on Saturday March 19th, 2011, as well as, at the Fly-in at Indianapolis Executive Airport on August 6th. And guess who will be designing and manufacturing the 2011 Down Syndrome Indiana Star Awards? You guessed it! The artisans!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Guest Blogger Katie Shaw talks about her education

I would like to introduce you to guest blogger, Katie Shaw. She is going to tell you about her education and what it means to her....

My Education by guest blogger Katie Shaw

My education is important to me because I have and will have all of my education. I have my certificate of completion and my CDA eventually I will have my GED.

First, I graduated at Pike High School in 2004 with a certificate of completion. This requires to meet the core 40 and to pass part of the math.

Second, I went to Ivy Tech and I got my CDA. I had to take early childhood classes. When you know the stuff it is easy.

Third, right now I am working on my GED. When you start you take an entrance exam to see where you are at then the teacher helps you with your skills.

All and all, when I have my certificate of completion, CDA and my GED that will help me get a job and do what I want to do with my life.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Prenatal Testing

Did you know?

· 1 out of every 691 babies born is born with Down syndrome;
· There has been a 15% decrease in the births of babies with Down syndrome between 1989 and 2005;
· Currently more babies with Down syndrome are aborted than are actually born;
· Yet, there is a waiting list of over 250 families that want to adopt a child with Down syndrome…

As early as the fall of 2011, there could be a blood test on the market that would detect Down syndrome within the first trimester of pregnancy. Of those women who receive a prenatal diagnosis, about 82% of them will choose to terminate the pregnancy. Why?
It very well may be due to a lack of current information about the rich lives that individuals with an intellectual disability, such as Down syndrome, can and do lead. For example, studies have shown that some parents choose to continue a pregnancy over termination because of positive images and stories about people with Down syndrome or because of conversations with parents of children with Down syndrome.

The lack of information provided is recognized by more than just the medical community as evidenced by the passage of the Prenatally and Postnatally Diagnosed Conditions Awareness Act and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) Practice Bulletin No. 88, which both call for the provision of up to date and current information about Down syndrome and referral to a support group when the diagnosis of Down syndrome is made.

As a local support group whose mission is to enhance the lives of individuals with Down syndrome, Down Syndrome Indiana’s Outreach Program strives to build relationships with the medical community through positive interactions and encourages medical personnel to distribute up to date and accurate information about Down syndrome to the families they serve. This is a pro-information movement whose time has come.

Most importantly, we as a community need to showcase our loved ones with Down syndrome. We need everyone to see the value that each brings to their home, family, place of work and their community. We need to reach outside of just families with Down syndrome to recruit those who believe in inclusion not only because they have a child but because it is a value that they hold dear. These people are out there. I speak with them every day.

If you want to be a part of sharing positive information about Down syndrome or would like to volunteer, please visit our website at or call 925-7617 today!

Oh and prepare to be….inspired!

Lisa Tokarz-Gutierrez, Executive Director
Down Syndrome Indiana

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Think College!

Book Review: Think College!
Postsecondary Education Options for Students with Intellectual Disabilities
Author: Meg Grigal & Debra Hart Foreword by Madeleine Will

As more and more students with intellectual disabilities "think college," high schools and postsecondary schools must be fully prepared to meet their needs. Developed by two highly respected experts, this book uncovers the big picture of postsecondary education (PSE) options and reveals how to support students with disabilities before, during, and after a successful transition to college.

A critical resource for education professionals to read and share with families, Think College! helps readers to:
• Understand the philosophical and practical purposes and potential outcomes of supporting students with intellectual disabilities to access PSE
• Explore the three current models for PSE: the inclusive individual support approach, the mixed hybrid approach, and substantially separate options
• Overcome the common challenges to PSE for students with intellectual disabilities
• Plan effective, person-centered transition services for high-school students
• Support students as they manage the practical aspects of a positive PSE experience
• Connect students’ PSE experiences directly to employment and other life goals.

With this thorough guide to today’s PSE options and tomorrow’s possibilities, professionals will help students with intellectual disabilities take full advantage of their educational opportunities – and set the stage for successful, fulfilling community lives.

This book is available to check out from the DSI Lending Library. For more information about the Lending Library or to check out this book please contact Rachel Wood by e-mail at or by phone at 317.925.7617.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Meet Sarah....

Taking pride in her work:
Sarah’s job brings independence and fulfillment

Sarah Schelstraete is proud of her job, and rightfully so. You can hear it in her voice when she talks about her day-to-day work at Underwriters Laboratories, a product-safety testing company in South Bend, Ind.

Sarah, a 36-year-old woman with Down syndrome, landed her job at Underwriters when she was just a high school student. Now in her 17th year on the job, Sarah has successfully maintained her employment thanks to her outstanding work ethic, positive attitude and pure dedication.

“I love my job!” Sarah said. “It’s very important to me.”

Sarah works five days a week and is responsible for various tasks that keep the company operating smoothly, including helping with shipping, cleaning and storing materials.

“She is probably one of our most dependable employees. She has a perfect attendance record,” said Donna Martis, Sarah’s supervisor, in an interview with WSBT-TV in South Bend.

In addition to a steady income, Sarah receives health benefits and an IRA (Individual Retirement Arrangement) through her employer.

“The ways this job has benefited Sarah are innumerable,” said Myrna Schelstraete, Sarah’s mom. “One of the biggest advantages is that she’s accepted by everyone she works with. Nobody treats her differently or gives her special privileges. She’s just like everyone else.”

As the fourth of five children, with two brothers and two sisters, Sarah grew up feeling like every other kid. “Her brothers didn’t let her get by with any special treatment!” Myrna said. “She had to hold her own, and she’s still good at that.”

Myrna is proud of her daughter’s independence and maturity, particularly in how she handles her work duties. She describes Sarah as being very smart, regimented and organized – all valuable qualities that are important to most employers.

“Sarah can do all the things that anyone else can do,” Myrna said. “It may take her a little longer to learn how to do some things, but she never forgets.” Sarah rides the city bus to and from work each day and packs her own lunches, too.

For other parents of children with disabilities, Myrna recommends they help their kids grow up to be excellent employees by teaching them to be well-mannered and responsible. She also suggests that parents think outside the box when helping their children with disabilities find employment. Rather than limiting your search to common places like restaurants and grocery stores, consider places that you do business with every day, such as doctor’s offices, hospitals and libraries.

“It’s a shame that most people don’t realize how many abilities people with disabilities do have,” Myrna said. “Unfortunately, many people think individuals with disabilities are limited to jobs you most typically see them in, such as working for fast food chains, but there are so many other options if you just look for them.”

In addition to her work, Sarah enjoys all kinds of activities and hobbies, including bowling, playing basketball, being outdoors and everything to do with music, including karaoke. She loves watching movies and spending time with friends, too.

“Sarah is a very well-rounded person with many skills and abilities,” Myrna said. “People with disabilities, like Sarah, just need a chance to show what they can do.”

Sarah’s story is an excellent reminder that people with disabilities, with the right support, can be valuable and productive employees. But this story isn’t just about inclusion; it’s also about empowerment. Not only is Sarah a respected employee, she’s earning a paycheck. She’s deciding what goods and services to buy, or not buy, and that is real power as a consumer.

(Reprinted with permission from the Indiana Governor’s Council for People with Disabilities)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Mark to Drive a Car!

I just love this story and am reprinting it with permission from Self Advocate’s of Indiana….

Mark Hublar has never let Down syndrome hold him back. Recently he began driving a car.

The 46 year old New Albany resident and Board Member of Self Advocates of Indiana as well as a member of Self Advocates of Southern Indiana, got his learner’s permit in October and will soon take his driver’s license test. In recognition of Mark’s efforts, the local Maaco Collision Repair & Auto Painting Center painted his 1998 Toyota at no charge.

Mark had been riding his scooter to his job at Wal-Mart and now can drive a great-looking car. “I’ve known Mark’s family a long time and wanted to support his efforts, which are such an inspiration to me and many other people in the area,” Terry Bird of Maaco said.

Mark said, “I always wanted to have my own car so mom gave me her car. I wanted it to look nice so I took it to my buddy Terry to paint it. He did a great job and said it was free. He is my buddy and I am going to give him a ride when I get my license.”

Mark serves on SAI’s Board of Directors as an appointed At-Large member. This article contains information that appeared in a Maaco press release from December 1, 2010.

P.S. For those of you who do not know Mark, he was the winner of a 2008 Down Syndrome Indiana Star Award. Go Mark! For more amazing stories about what our advocates are accomplishing, please plan on attending the Parent Network Meeting on Tuesday, February 22nd at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Indianapolis, IN from 6pm to 8pm.

Prepare to be inspired…

Lisa Tokarz-Gutierrez
Executive Director
2625 N. Meridian Street, #49 Indianapolis, IN 46208
317-925-7617 Office
317-313-9615 Cell
317-925-7619 Fax