What can you add to your PPT/IEP/504* meetings?

by Jake Shumbo, Youth Intern

My first PPT I was bored out of my skull. Over time, I have learned to enjoy them. I enjoy speaking about where I have been successful and where I want to venture next. I enjoy learning about new opportunities and the path to them.

When you are invited to your PPT meeting it may be intimidating at first. It was for me. You may hear your teachers tell you what you can’t do. They did it to me. A bunch of adults talking about you and not to you and reading from reports that are hard to understand. That happened to me too. Here’s what you need to do: prepare yourself. Expect the unexpected. Read the reports ahead of time (and ask for help in understanding). Prepare goals and objectives. Advocate for yourself. Practice leading your meeting.

When I go to my PPT I do the following things with my team:


1.    Set realistic goals

2.    Plan paths to those goals. Include a few options

3.    Choose the right path for you

4.    Put the plan in motion 

5.    Identify supports, accommodations, and modifications needed


Confidence and belief in yourself and your support team is essential to a successful meeting and year. I feel it is important to lead your PPT. Be the boss, it’s your life!

PPT's should not be intimidating. They should be productive and could even be fun. Take control of your life by taking control of your PPT.

Good luck :)


*PPT: Planning and Placement Team

IEP: Individualized Education Program

504:Section 504 Plan

Person First or Identity First: How to Address Your Child with a Disability

By Emily Ball, Mentor Coordinator

Person first language is the belief that emphasizes a person’s individuality and not their disability. It conveys respect that they are a person, and not just defined by their disability.

Identity First language is the belief that a person’s disabilities are a significant part of one’s identity. Some people may prefer this term because it emphasizes the effect their disability has on their life.

Person first and identity first are two different individual preferences. The key term in this sentence is preference. A parent may know their child like no one else, but that child knows what living with a disability is like firsthand. Depending on a child’s age, they may have their own preferences. For example, if they were born with a disability, they may see their disability as a part of themselves. Or they may be born with their disability but feel very disconnected to that side of their identity in which case they prefer person first language. Parents and caregivers should listen to their preferences and respect them.

Language regarding the disability community is a very personal choice. For nondisabled caregivers or parents, I suggest letting your child take the lead. Whichever identity the child chooses, better it be their decision, because it is their body and their choice

Self-Care during the times of COVID-19

By Jake Shumbo, Youth Intern

To begin with self-care is the number one priority at any point in time, whether you are a front-line worker or an average-joe. In order to successfully promote yourself, job or an action that you’d like to inspire, you’ve got to have an open-mind and a driving force to accomplish what you set out too.

Self-care does not only include your health, happiness or even what you are doing to make yourself feel better in any given moment. It means still doing what makes you feel like you are accomplishing your goals that you are meant to be in that moment in your lifetime.

In conclusion, if you want to take care of others the first thing that you should do is ensure that you are at a 100% yourself.  This will let you be able to support others as well as yourself in any situation that you may encounter.

Aha Moments!

By Jake Shumbo, Youth Intern

Aha moments, those moments that give you a sudden glimpse of clarity and direction. We have all experienced aha moments.
In my life my aha moment occurred when I realized that I was not leading myself to the future that I desired.  I was uninvolved and not interested or in tune with my future.

How could I ever expect to succeed if I could not be bothered?
How could I expect others to believe in me if I did not even believe in myself? 
That was my aha moment.

I decided I needed to be involved, I needed to have a voice.  Then opportunities found me.  I had positive impacts on others and myself.

In all of these experiences you’ve got to discover something new about yourself.
How can you improve yourself, your environment, and your experiences with others?
How can you reach the future you that you want to be?

Think about how your positive attitude and actions can change not only your world but the world around you.
Maybe you can inspire someone else’s aha moment!