Voices & Choices

2015 Youth & Adult Conference

September 12th, 2015

8:45 am – 4:15 pm
Marriott West
9960 Wayzata Blvd.
St. Louis Park, Minnesota


We hope you will be joining us for an informative, fun-filled day! We have brought back some of our most popular workshops and added some new ones that we hope you will enjoy. We have changed the schedule… you will notice that the day is a bit shorter than in previous years. The reason for this change is to sync the Youth & Adult conference schedule with the Adult Matters conference which will be going on in another part of the same hotel.

Of course we will be having our open mic time during the lunch hour and a dance at the end of the day. This year’s Voices & Choices conference will again be held at the Marriott West in St. Louis Park. The conference is open to 50 youth and adults with Down syndrome. Please note that you must be 14 years old by September 12th to attend. Some of our more popular workshops fill up very fast so we encourage you to register early. Workshops are filled on a first-come, first-serve basis, so act quickly to get your first choices!

This year self advocates will be electing a DSAM Board representative since Jake Walinski has fulfilled his term of office. If you are interested in running for the self advocate position on the Board, please call Kathleen Forney at the DSAM office at 651-603-0720 or e-mail her at kathleen@dsamn.org.

Remember to get your registration in early! Just a reminder that we will NOT be serving breakfast prior to the start of the conference. There will be a snack at 10:30 am; lunch will be served at noon; and there will be snacks, veggies and dip available around 3:00 pm. Of course, we will have gluten free options available throughout the day.

Breakout Sessions

Are your favorite pictures stuffed into a shoebox? Or hanging out on your cell phone? Get them organized into a scrapbook! This workshop is for novice or experienced scrapbook makers. Bring 6 to 8 developed pictures and we will help you create beautiful scrap book pages to preserve your memories. Feel free to bring your own scrapbook and supplies (scissors, adhesive, decorative paper).
Presenter: Jessica Marsolek , Experienced Scrap booker

Basic First Aid
Knowing some basic first aid is an important life skill. This workshop will cover how to treat minor cuts, burns and scrapes. You will learn the universal sign for choking, how to do the Heimlich maneuver and what to do if you are alone and choking. What to do in a medical emergency will also be covered.
Presenter: Karen Lilla, RN, Health Counseling Services

This is an easy-to-learn, relaxing and fun way to create beautiful images by drawing repetitive structured patterns. Zentangle increases focus and creativity and provides artistic satisfaction along with an increased sense of personal well being. Workshop participants will leave with Zentangle supplies (special paper, pen, pencil and sharpener) so you can continue to create at home. There will be an Art Show prior to the dance to show off participants’ Zentangle creations!
Presenter: Michelle Silverman, Certified Zentangle Instructor

Staying Safe Online
How do I recognize cyber bullying and what should I do about it? What is phishing? How much personal information should I share on Facebook? What kind of content is safe or legal to share online? We will answer these questions and more in this workshop on staying safe online.
Presenter: Catherine McDonnell-Forney, DSAM staff

Camping and Survival Skills
This workshop will be a hands-on demonstration of how to set up a campsite. Participants will have the opportunity to set up a tent. Can you sleep comfortably in the woods? Participants will get to see what it feels like to sleep on a pad and sleeping bag. Next, there will be a demonstration of proper fire building technique (but we won’t be lighting the fire!). If time permits, participants will learn how to read a map.
Presenter: Dan Stark, Voyageur Outward Bound Program Coordinator

Making Healthy Snacks
When it comes to snacks, there are good choices and bad choices. Learn how to make good choices that taste good too! Participants in this workshop will make three healthy snacks and have the chance to taste what they make. You will go home with snack recipe cards that you can make for yourself, your family or friends.
Presenter: Brenda Donahe

The Travel Club
In the fall of 2010, DSAM launched its Travel Club. Self advocates have visited Chicago (twice!), Seattle and Vancouver, accompanied by chaperones. Maybe you would be interested in going on the next adventure in the spring of 2016. This workshop will show highlights of past trips and let you know about the planning process for the next Travel Club adventure. The workshop is open to anyone, BUT you must be 21 years old to go on a trip with the Travel Club.
Presenters: Kathleen Forney, DSAM Executive Director
Jack Grams, Travel Club Director

Relationships: Friends & Peers
In this workshop, participants will think about different types of friendly and romantic relationships and ways in which people may choose to show affection. Special attention will be paid to sweetheart relationships and ways of experiencing intimacy and expressing sexuality, with an emphasis on communicating about boundaries and desires and understanding safety and consent. Note to parents: sexual content will be handled honestly. You are invited to contact the speaker in advance if you have questions!
Presenter: Jackie Trelawny, Community Health Educator, Family Tree Clinic (New speaker – correction from the print brochure)

Staying Safe in Your Community
This workshop will teach you ways to safely navigate through your community. Taught by a police officer, it will include the opportunity to role play your response to different risky scenarios.
Presenter: Tom Tanghe, St. Paul Police Officer


8:45—9:00 Registration

9:00—9:15 Welcome

9:15—10:30 Session I


Staying Safe Online

Relationships: Friends & Partners

10:30—Noon Session II


Travel Club

Camping/Survivor Skills

Noon—1:30 Lunch, Board Election Speeches, Board Election and Open Mic

1:30—2:45 Session III

Basic First Aid

Healthy Snacks

Staying Safe in Your Community

2:45—3:00 Board Elections Results…Zentangle Art Show…Snacks

3:00—4:15 Dance


We are near capacity, please call the DSAM office, (651) 603-0720, before sending in your registration. 

Fees: $40

Payment Information

Send completed registration form (pdf) and a credit card information or check payable to the Down Syndrome Association of Minnesota (DSAM) to:

Attn: Youth & Adult Conference
656 Transfer Rd, St. Paul, MN 55114


We need lots of volunteers to make this day a success! Please head over to our Sign Up Genius page to see the opportunities we have for you to be apart of this great day!