On Saturday, February 26, Guam CEDDERS Research Associate, Reuel Drilon, takes a selfie with partners from the Guam Department of Public Health & Social Services team, along with traveling nurses supporting the COVID-19 community vaccination outreach clinic held at the Hågat gymnasium. The village clinic was established to provide better access to the vaccines for persons with disabilities and older adults in the community. Guam CEDDERS, along with our Tri-agency partners, Guam Legal Services Corporation – Disability Law Center and the Guam Developmental Disabilities Council, also supported similar vaccination outreach efforts in the villages of Barrigada and Dededo.
The Guam Department of Education (GDOE) in partnership with Autism Community Together (ACT), the University of Guam School of Education (SOE), the National Association of State Directors of Special Education (NASDSE), and Guam CEDDERS, held a week long series of work team sessions facilitated by consultants from NASDSE. The work teams focused on GDOE’s State Personnel Development Grant (SPDG), Project Hita Para Mo’na. The project is funded by a grant from the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) that aims to assist GDOE in improving professional and family learning of all stakeholders in order to increase outcomes for all students.
The on-site sessions for Project Hita Para Mo’na facilitated by NASDSE consultants ran through February 19 – February 25. The visiting consultants comprised of the following professionals: John Eisenberg – NASDSE Executive Director, Joanne Cashman – former Director of the IDEA Partnership at NASDSE, Luann Purcell – former Executive Director of the Council of Administrators of Special Education (CASE), Patti Solomon – Parent Mentor Program Creator in Georgia schools, Robyn Hansen – Educational Consultant and Assistant Professor of Practice (Northern Arizona University) , and Arlene Russell – SIGMA Associates Incorporated. During the sessions, partners and stakeholders participated in learning more about how Leading by Convening can support the engagement and partnerships between home (families), community, and early childhood and school programs. Leading by Convening is a framework that emphasizes that everybody is a leader, and everybody is a learner. The framework is centered on the “Blueprint for Engagement,” in which stakeholders come together around shared concerns, ensure relevant participation, and do the work together with the goal of supporting children in reaching their full potential in literacy as they develop through early intervention, preschool, elementary school, middle school, and then completing their high school education with a diploma in the hopes of pursuing post-secondary goals such as college, vocational training, or other life opportunities. The Leading by Convening framework embodies the tenets of Project Hita Para Mo’na which in CHamoru means “moving forward together.” The goals of the project center on making certain that a process is created that is informed by all stakeholders thus ensuring that all voices are heard.
The visit kicked off with a parent session hosted by ACT and facilitated by the NASDSE consultants. The session titled “Engaging Families: Leading by Convening!” was held at the Hilton Guam Resort & Spa. Patti Solomon, NASDSE partner and parent of an adult child with autism, shared how professional and family learning can lead to successful outcomes. Parents and other participants learned about the Leading by Convening framework as a way to engage families in becoming collaborative partners with a shared mission of supporting children in reaching their full potential in literacy.
It is the new normal. Virtual technical assistance and training activities continue to support the entity special education programs increase their personnel capacity to provide special education and related services. Through entity-specific contracts, Guam CEDDERS continues to support the development and implementation of virtual technical assistance and training activities prioritized by each entity.
The COVID-19 global pandemic has affected many aspects of life which has restricted large gatherings for the last two years. The Guam Preschool Development Grant Birth to Five (Guam PDG B-5) under the Department of Public Health & Social Services had planned to conduct Village Play Time events in 6 villages on island. Village Play Time is a collaboration across various early childhood programs which promotes the overall positive development of children by encouraging developmentally appropriate play activities between parents/caregivers and their children. In addition, one of the outcomes of the Project Minetgot Year 2 workplan is to produce informational videos on developmentally appropriate practices for young children. The main purpose of the videos is to promote positive interactions between parents/caregivers and their children through play.
In December 2021, Project Minetgot, Guam PDG B-5, and other early childhood programs came together to discuss fulfilling the outcomes for both Village Play Time and the informational videos. Thus, the Virtual Village Play Time video series was created.
The activities shown in the videos feature local families engaging in activities that stimulate all areas of a child’s development. Most importantly, the videos show parents/caregivers building positive social and emotional interactions, which is vital to a child’s healthy growth and development. These videos remind parents that play is how children learn and encourages parents/ caregivers to go out and play with their children in their natural settings.
The videos are available for viewing on the Guam Early Learning Council’s social media pages @guamelc on Facebook and Instagram and the Guam CEDDERS website.
February 1st was the deadline for each entity to submit its Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Annual Performance Report (APR) to the USDOE Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP). This year’s submission also included the new cycle of the State Performance Plan (SPP) which required setting new targets for reporting periods Federal Fiscal Year (FFY) 2020 – FFY 2025, where required. Through entity-specific contracts, Guam CEDDERS supported the development of the SIP/APR for Guam, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), and Republic of Palau (ROP). This year’s SPP/APR submission deadline also included each entity’s State Systemic Improvement Plan (SSIP). A key development requirement is to ensure stakeholder engagement in the development of the SPP/ APR, including each entity’s advisory panel for special education and the interagency coordinated council for early intervention, comprised of representatives from various agencies, parents of children with disabilities, and individuals with disabilities, as required. Congratulations to ALL entities for submitting timely their SPP/APR by February 1st!
Once again through the collaborative efforts of the Tri-agencies, which is comprised of Guam Developmental Disabilities Council (GDDC), Guam Legal Services – Disability Law Center (GLS-DLC), and Guam CEDDERS, and the GDDC members planned many advocacy and awareness activities in celebration of Developmental Disabilities Month in March. With Mrs. Monica Limtiaco, GDDC Council Chairperson, taking the lead, the national theme, “World’s Imagine” was utilized and localized to “World’s Imagine – I Can.” The idea behind the localized theme was to showcase the individual abilities of individuals with disabilities in performing different activities and tasks.
Some of the activities included the advocacy posters that highlighted the successes of individuals with disabilities. The production of videos that showed the “I Can” skills of various individuals, such as cooking, playing, bowling, and using the computer. Many thanks to the participants of the videos and the service providers who ensured that the skills of individuals with disabilities were highlighted. Thank you to the poets who submitted poems on topics of their fancy. Thank you to Guam CEDDERS Media Staff for the creation of the products – customized design of the “World’s Imagine” theme, posters, and videos. Thank you to the Department of Public Health & Social Services and GLS-DLC for the procurement of the T-shirts that depicted the Latte Stone design, which signified our strength and resilience not only as CHamoru, but individuals with disabilities who continue to be resilient despite the many challenges to accessibility and services. Last but not the least, as a culminating activity, the GDDC Advocacy wave, in front of the GDDC office was well supported by the Tri-Agency, GDDC Council members, and Marine Drive “honkers.”
The GDDC Awareness Celebration is a prime example that with imagination and teamwork, the resilient and persistent drive of GDDC Council members to show the island community that individuals with disabilities can do many things was not detoured by the pandemic. It even motivated and inspired the council members to plan for a more extensive and meaningful celebration for next year’s GDDC Celebration!