Voices & Choices

Youth and adult conference header

Calling all Self-Advocates!

We hope you will join us for an informative and fun-filled day at DSAM’s Voices & Choices Conference! The conference is co-sponsored by the Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities. You will notice that we have a whole bunch of brand new workshops this year…our self advocate planning committee had some fantastic ideas and we hope we have delivered on their suggestions.

The conference will again be held at the Marriott West in St. Louis Park and is open to 60 youth & adults with Down syndrome. Please note you must be 14 years old by September 17th to attend. Of course we will still be having our open mic time during the lunch hour and a dance at the end of the day.

Workshops are filled on a first-come, first serve basis, so we encourage you to act quickly to get your first choices! Please note there are two additional forms necessary to complete your conference registration—the parental/guardian release form and the memory book info. These forms are due to DSAM no later than September 1st.

There will be yogurt and fruit available from 8:30 to 9:00 am. Lunch will be served at 11:30 am. Light healthy snacks will be served during the dance. Gluten free options will be available at these times also.

Workshop Descriptions

Plenary Session: Conflict Resolution
How do you get along with difficult people or bossy friends without getting too emotional? How do you work out disagreements with family members or staff? What is the best way to resolve issues at your job or work place? Facilitated by behavior specialist Wendy Selnes, this workshop will offer the opportunity to develop the skills and language you need to stick up for yourself and resolve problems and issues confidently.

Housing Options and Independent Living
Presented by self advocates Nayef Albinali, Tom Belka, David Forney and Matt Pickford, this workshop will give participants insight into apartment living and group home living. The workshop will also discuss how these young men deal with issues of independent living: transportation, meal planning/cooking, bill paying, cleaning/laundry and recreation.

How to Calculate a Tip at a Restaurant
Bring your iPhone or smartphone, iPad or tablet, we will be downloading and learning to use a free app that will help you calculate a tip at a restaurant. The app also helps you split the bill if you are eating out with friends. You can sign up for this workshop even if you don’t have a smartphone or tablet, we will have wallet sized tip tables available for you to use. We will also discuss what good and poor service looks like at a restaurant. This workshop will be taught by ISD 196 Transition Plus teacher Ashley Ashbeck.

Staying Safe in the Community
Police Officer Tom Tanghe (who has a brother with Down syndrome) will help participants role play various risky or dangerous situations. This workshop is interactive with lots of opportunity for participation. Discussion will be held on the best response and learning to listen to your “gut feeling.”
Officer Tom will also discuss the use of fire extinguishers and smoke detectors.

Wear This, Not That
Can you wear a plaid shirt with camouflage pants? What is appropriate to wear to your job at an office? How does the dress code change on “casual Fridays”? How does your wardrobe change from summer to winter? DSAM Board members Camilo Mejia and Maggie Erickson, along with self advocates Tim Kratz and Caroline Garry, will model various outfits. Discussion will be facilitated by Megan Schmid Pauly on the best clothing choices for various situations.

Healthy Options When Eating Out at Restaurants
What is the healthiest choice to make when eating out at restaurants? Facilitated by Amanda Johnson, a weight loss consultant with Medifast, this workshop will give you several healthy choices for many of the popular restaurants in the Twin Cities. You will go home with a list of yummy and healthy choices that you can take when eating out.

Wilderness Inquiry
A guide from Wilderness Inquiry will open your eyes to the possibilities of outdoor adventure travel! If traveling by canoe, camping under the stars and hiking in the woods is your idea of fun, then this is the workshop for you. Not sure? Come check it out! Self advocate Sam Hesla will contribute a report on the Wilderness Inquiry trip he took in August.

Make Your Own Greeting Cards
This is a hands-on workshop where participants will make 5 different greeting cards: Happy Birthday, Happy Halloween, Happy Valentine’s Day, Get Well and Thank You. There is an additional $5 charge for this workshop for card materials and envelopes.

ToneRocks Rock Band & Sing-a-long
Music therapist Lyndie Walker will lead this interactive, musical workshop. Participants will have the opportunity to sing songs, play adapted instruments, and give a culminating performance prior to the dance!

Introduction to Zumba
Part of a healthy lifestyle is getting exercise. Come and find out how to exercise to music with Zumba! This class is so much fun it won’t even feel like exercise. Taught by certified Zumba instructor Jen Duey, this workshop might even teach you a few moves to use on the dance floor!


Conference fee is $50. Please add $5 if your first choice for session 3 is Make Your Own Greeting Card

Register by downloading the conference brochure and mailing in the registration form with your payment


Register online: weblink.donorperfect.com/voiceandchoices 

Conference Forms

These forms must be completed and returnd to DSAM no later than Thursday, September 1st in order to attend the conference. 

These forms can be filled out on your computer and emailed to kathy.holiday@dsamn.org or mailed back to the DSAM office at 656 Transfer Road, St. Paul, MN 55114.  Please note, if you’re a Mac user, please use Adobe Acrobat to fill out the form. This form must be returned by Thursday, September 1st, 2016 in order to attend the conference.

The release form helps us make the necessary preparations for the self advocates to have a successful, enjoyable day at the conference.  Please pay particular attention to behavior questions and/or dietary issues – especially Celiac.

The other form is for the memory book and directory. Please use the space provided to tell us a bit about yourself! Write something, include photos or draw or paint a picture, anything you want! The memory book and directory are given to all who attend the conference.

Both forms should be returned to the office no later than September 1st. Remember that you cannot attend the conference without the release form.