Saturday March 11, 2017 from 8:30 AM to 4:00 PM EST

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Grappone Conference Center 
70 Constitution Drive
Concord, NH 03301

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Conference Agenda


   Saturday, March 11th

8:30-9:00         Registration

9:00-10:30       Welcome/Keynote

10:45-12:15     Morning Sessions

12:15-1:15       Lunch

1:15-2:00         Shorts

2:15-3:45         Afternoon Sessions

3:45-4:00         Wrap-Up and Prizes


Partnering for Strength 2017

The Parent Information Center, NH Family Voices  and the YEAH Council  invite you to the Partnering for Strength Conference 2017 at the Grappone Conference Center in Concord, NH.  We are pleased to have Kathy O'Connell of Radiant Abilities, LLC as the keynote speaker.  She will be addressing: "Supporting Children & Youth to Lead an Empowered Life: Embracing Our Different Abilities" 

Registration is required.  The fee is $30 for parents of a child with a disability/special health care need and $40 for professionals which includes breakout sessions, a full lunch buffet and refreshments throughout the day.

Registration begins at 8:30 AM.  The conference agenda is on the left hand column of the screen.  See below for detailed descriptions of the breakout sessions. 

Overnight accomodations are available at the Courtyard Marriott. Please call the hotel at 603-225-0303 for more information.

If accommodations are needed for communication access such as interpreters, CART (captioning), assistive listening devices or other auxiliary aids and/or services, please contact us no later than February 17th

Questions about the conference? Call the PIC office at 603-224-7005 x111.

In addition to the conference, we are hosting a Youth Conference, Access Your Voice ~ Connect with Yourself on the Road to Self Advocacy simultaneously at the Grappone Center, for youth ages 14-26.  For more information on the Youth Conference, please click here.


Keynote Speaker - Kathy O'Connell, Supporting Children & Youth to Lead an Empowered Life: Embracing Our Different Abilities

Learn and discuss ways to powerfully enhance the self-esteem of a child with a disability. You will leave with tools to help empower children, at any age, with a healthy sense of self. Kathy intertwines stories from her own childhood to correspond with the concepts of:

  • Assisting your child in developing an awareness of self
  • Helping your child to develop healthy boundaries
  • Actively joining your child in the recognition of his/her potential
  • The two key components to building the foundation for a healthy sense of self
  • The four elements of empowerment and how to develop them in your child 
  • How to help your child find meaning in his/her disability
Kathy O’Connell, CRC, LMHC is author of the self-help book, Firewalk: Embracing Different Abilities and Director of Radiant Abilities, which provides resources and products for people with disabilities in the areas of self-esteem, relationships, personal empowerment, and living the life you want. 

Morning Break Out Sessions - Choose one

  • Understanding Trauma Informed Care  Learn how to better understand how challenging experiences or trauma impact young children.  Learn your role, the strategies for intervening, the importance of caregiver support and identifying resources. Participants will be better prepared to respond to the resulting emotional and behavioral challenges and to promote learning and development through safe and supportive relationships. The Trauma-Informed Early Childhood Services Highly Qualified Consultation Project and the Community Health Institute are supporting this training.  Sandy Hogan (LCMHC)  
  • How to Keep Good Records…Sounds Boring, Right?!  But Vital to Supporting Children and Youth! This session will be dedicated to assisting families with the art of record keeping.  Learn what kinds of records may be helpful to you and your child as you receive services, both in the educational and health arena. Topics will include: What are "good" records? How do you keep track of them?  What are some ways that good record keeping can assist you in your efforts to provide appropriate services for children and youth? Cindy Robertson, Disability Rights Center
  • Ten Things Families Need to Know About Assistive Technology  You know that your child’s possible need for assistive technology (AT) must be considered during the development of the IEP.  You know that you have a powerful voice in all decision-making around your child’s educational program including assistive technology.  But, perhaps you are feeling a bit uncomfortable about how to think about and talk about AT with the other members of your child’s decision-making team.  Would you like to know more about the purposes of AT, what AT is and is not, the role of AT in helping your child work toward educational and personal goals where and when those goals are being addressed?  If so, this session is for you!  Join Joy Zabala to explore these questions and more, and to learn about a framework that supports collaborative decision-making about the AT your child may need to accomplish tasks in his customary environments. Joy Smiley Zabala, Ed.,D.
  • Connecting Questions to Action, The Question Formulation Technique   Have you ever been in a situation when you just didn't know what to ask?  Have you ever felt like somebody made a decision that really is important to you, but you didn't even know about it? We all need a chance to learn important skills for asking questions and focusing on decisions. Despite their significance, skills to develop focused, straightforward questions around important issues are rarely taught.  Using this clear, simple step-by-step approach, individuals learn and will then be able to teach others this foundational skill. Leave this workshop with a practical, solution based strategy you can apply right away to almost any area of your life! This session is designed to increase communication information gathering and shared decision making. Maureen Shields, NH Connections

"Shorts" are fun, interactive 45 minute sessions - Choose one

  • Using Music To Help Children with Special Needs Learn, Grow and Thrive! Music is motivating, fun and expressive. Although we know that music can help us bond with children and help them reach their therapeutic goals, some hesitate to use music because they lack the tools, techniques and resources. This interactive, "hands on" workshop with video examples empowers parents and professionals with the skills they need to bring music into their interactions with children with special needs. You do not need to be musical or even be able to sing in order to use music in this way. Ryan Judd, MA, MT-BC (Board Certified Music Therapist)
  • The Art in All of Us  We are born creative creatures, every one of us. Expressing thoughts and feelings through art is as much an urge and a part of the human experience today as it was to our pre-historic relatives who etched stories on walls of caves with rocks and ash. This short, hands-on watercolor art session will include a demonstration of how to paint a watercolor, as well as, time and guidance to make a watercolor painting of your own.  Easy, fun and your brain will thank you. Maryclare Heffernan, juried artist and special education consultant
  • Star Wars Yoga   In yoga, prana is a life force energy that comes from within and emerges with the practice of yoga poses (asanas) and yogic breathing (pranayama), embodying a lesson from the famous Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi, “The Force is what gives a Jedi his power. It’s an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us, it penetrates us; it binds the galaxy together."  Inspired by George Lucas’ brilliant Star Wars films, this is a truly epic class that yogis of all ages will love every minute of. Incorporating Star Wars inspired poses, and Jedi approved breathing techniques, this fun and exciting sequence will bring out your inner Jedi (If you have your own mat please bring it with you). Mandi Kulbacki, Master in Mental Health and concentration in expressive art and movement therapy
  • Play Is Important For All Kids!   Playing provides valuable developmental growth and learning for all children --- and especially for those with special needs. We will discuss the role of play in development and explore ways to adapt toys, activities and approaches that can help meet those with more specific and individual needs. Jessica Dane, a representative from Discovery Toys will be joining us for the session. You are welcome to bring in toys you want to explore with us. Stephanie Van Horn, Occupational Therapy Assistant

Afternoon Break Out Sessions -  Choose one

  • Changing Roles: Stepping Back to Allow Stepping Up  As youth grow up, roles and responsibilities shift. How do parents step back, to allow youth to step up, or allow others to step in? In this session, you will learn ideas on how to create opportunities to practice increased independence. Sylvia Pelletier, NH Family Voices and Leigh Prince, Occupational Therapist and Assistive Technology Specialist
  • From Mindfulness to Mindset Mindfulness is the way we view ourselves and our world. The mindset we have shapes the way that we think about learning, intelligence, our abilities and the way we face challenges. In this session, we will explore the concepts of fixed and growth mindsets developed by psychologist Carol Dweck. We will also learn how mindfulness plays a role in shaping our mindset and why together growth mindset and mindfulness can be a powerful combination. Robin deAlmeida
  • Representing the Family Voice: Serving on Committees  Are you either on or considering joining a council, task force, committee, etc. where you will be representing other families? We hear from you about the excitement of these opportunities but also concerns about the expectations, time commitment and experience necessary. This session will share tips, expectations, ground rules and other considerations for families taking on the role "representing familes" on these local, regional or statewide committees. Terry Ohlson-Martin, NH Family Voices and Michelle Lewis, Parent Information Center
  • Managing Difficult Conversations: Let's Agree on a Way Forward Even with the best intentions, sometimes teams must have difficult conversations or may find themselves in conflict. In this session we will discover and apply different practices in order to move forward in an agreeable manner when these situations arise. This session will expand your ability to convert difficult situations into collaborative solutions. Pam Miller Sallet, NH Connections