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Helping Young People with Disabilities Find Their Passion: Andraéa LaVant's Story

Andraea L.

The You Can Work series continues to spotlight the achievements of job seekers with disabilities who found their path to a better future with help from Social Security’s Ticket to Work program. In January we introduced you to Success Story participant Andraéa LaVant, a mentor to teens and the Inclusion Specialist for the Girl Scout Council of the Nation’s Capital (GSCNC). Today, we are announcing the launch of a Success Story video featuring her story and success with the Ticket to Work program.

Andraéa knows first-hand what it is like to negotiate adolescence with a disability. As a young woman with muscular dystrophy who successfully navigated college and the workforce, Andraéa is a strong role model for the girls. She conveys the benefits of many valuable learning experiences through creative, engaging activities designed to set young people up for success. At 30, Andraéa is young enough to remember the importance of establishing a sense of one’s identity early on. Too often, she notes, children can grow up defined by their disability. She helps teens create the self-awareness they will need to enjoy a future that includes fulfilling activity.

Andraéa manages Camp Starfish, a Girl Scout camp in Rockville, MD, where girls with developmental disabilities make friends and discover new experiences in a supportive environment. A week of fun activities that help campers identify the skills and interests which make them unique ends with a “Passion Show,” a showcase celebrating each child’s “passion.” Every girl that began a tentative walk down the makeshift runway finished with a palpable sense of empowerment.

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Employment Goes Hand in Hand with Good Health: Honoring National Minority Health Month

This month health and wellness take the spotlight! In addition to being Public Health Month, April is also National Minority Health Month, an annual observance sponsored by the Office of Minority Health in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Since health and wellness are important components of being successful in the workplace, organizations serving people with disabilities have an important role to play in building healthier communities.

The goal of Minority Health Month is to raise awareness of health disparities facing minority populations, highlight efforts underway to address them, and provide information and resources to empower individuals and communities to improve their health. This year’s theme is “Prevention is Power: Taking Action for Health Equity.”

People with disabilities, racial and ethnic minorities, and other underserved groups disproportionately face barriers to good health, including higher rates of diabetes. However, numerous efforts are underway to correct these disparities. A range of public health agencies are involved, including the National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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Money Mondays: Self-Employment as a Work Option for People with Disabilities

For people with disabilities, self-employment can provide increased flexibility and opportunities to meet career and financial goals, but there are also challenges one should consider.

Self-employment can bring you increased income while allowing you to set your own working hours and decide where to work. If you have the right skills and a good business plan, self employment can be a great path to a better self-supporting future.

But, starting a business can be risky for anyone, and as a person with a disability you may also confront additional barriers when attempting to start your own business. You may have a hard time getting the seed money needed to start a business, and it may be harder to get the information and resources needed to develop an effective business plan.

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Your Questions Answered! March 26th Facebook Questions & Answers (Q&A) Transcript

Following our March 26th WISE Webinar, “You Ask, We Answer,” we took to our Facebook page to answer your disability employment-related questions. We addressed a variety of questions about the Ticket to Work program, Work Incentives and the path to financial independence. Thank you to all who participated, and we hope to see the rest of you next time! Follow us on Facebook (http://facebook.com/choosework) to receive announcements of future events! If you are interested in work and would like to discuss your situation now, speak with a Ticket to Work representative at 1-866-968-7842 (V) or 1-866-833-2967 (TTY) or find a service provider using our Find Help tool.

Check out the transcripts of the March 26th Facebook Q&A below:

Note: Questions are listed first in each section. Responses from the Ticket to Work experts are labeled “Expert Response.” Additional comments from fans are labeled “Fan Comment (or Fan Response).” Comments from the moderator are labeled “Moderator Comment.” This transcript was recorded from the chat itself and to preserve authenticity, only egregious spelling errors were corrected and some responses were rearranged to group by question. Please excuse any additional grammar or spelling errors.

Below are acronyms used throughout the chat:

EN: Employment Network

SSI: Supplemental Security Income

SSDI: Social Security Disability Insurance

TTW: Ticket to Work

VR: Vocational Rehabilitation Agency

WISE (webinar): Work Incentives Seminar Event

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Celebrating National Siblings Day

Today is National Siblings Day, an occasion where – like Mothers’ Day and Fathers’ Day – we celebrate relationships with some of our closest family members: our siblings.

Siblings are often our first playmates, our friends, and our role models. A relationship with a brother or sister can be very influential in anyone’s life. For individuals with disabilities, the role of siblings can be even more significant. No matter how young or old you and your sibling are, today is an occasion to appreciate each other.

Everyone’s personal situation is unique, but siblings can support their siblings with disabilities by helping them to achieve their goals, including employment. If you are interested in the topic of siblings and disabilities, we encourage you to look into The Arc's National Sibling Council and the Sibling Leadership Network. Here are some of their resources:

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It's National Public Health Week!

National Public Health Week (NPHW), April 7-13, seeks to help people learn more about how the profession of public health encourages healthy communities through educational programs, policies, services, and research.

Public health takes a broader view of health, helping people throughout our society live lives that are longer and better. While your doctor takes care of your personal health, public health organizations aim to take care of the health of our entire community.

Public health focuses on the communities and environments in which we live and work, playing a major role in securing the quality of air and water, the availability of healthy food, and the safety of neighborhoods while encouraging healthy behaviors in everyone who lives in our society. Public health advocates are working to make sure public health services and programs are available to people with disabilities.

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Start Your Job Search Today at a Career Fair!

Throughout the month, in-person and virtual career fairs (when available) are taking place around the country. If you are looking for work, a career fair gives you an opportunity to get connected with employers who are currently hiring and talk directly with their recruiters. Additionally, virtual career fairs offer a unique opportunity for you to engage in real time from wherever you are with employers who are ready to hire!

Careers and the disABLED Magazine's Career Expo for People with Disabilities (In-person)

Careers and the disABLED Magazine will host career events specifically for people with disabilities. This is an opportunity to meet in-person with employers from across the country.

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How is Your Ticket to Work Employment Network Doing?

As part of its management of the Ticket to Work program, Social Security is surveying beneficiaries to determine their satisfaction with Employment Networks (ENs). If you are a beneficiary who received a survey, we are asking you to share your thoughts and experience.

What does the Survey Ask?

The EN Beneficiary Satisfaction Survey asks you to:

  • Rate how satisfied you are with your EN’s services and staff
  • Identify your EN’s strengths and weaknesses
  • Evaluate how well your EN meets your needs and expectations
  • Describe your job, if you are working
  • Tell us how we can improve the Ticket to Work program

How Do I Know If I’ve been Selected?

Social Security selected over 27,000 beneficiaries to participate. If you are selected, you will receive a postcard (enclosed in an envelope) with instructions for completing the survey online. If you are not able to complete the survey online because you do not have access to the Internet, you will receive a paper survey along with a postage-paid envelope for its return. If you received a survey and have questions or need assistance completing the survey, call EurekaFacts at 1-855-403-4800 or email ttw@eurekafacts.com. EurekaFacts will be conducting the survey on behalf of Social Security. TTY users, please contact your local Relay Center for assistance.

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