Meeting Minutes: January 29, 2019

Minutes – Shenandoah Valley Inclusive Wellness Coalition

January 29, 2019 – Harrisonburg City Hall, 12:30-2:00 PM

Note takers: Dr. Danette Gibbs

Attendees: Arc of Harrisonburg and Rockingham (Heather Denman); Training and Technical Assistance Center, Shenandoah Valley Autism Partnership (*Amanda Randall); JMU Office of Disability Services (*Valerie Schoolcraft); Brain Injury Connections of the Shenandoah Valley (*Tamara Wagester and Sheryl Dean); Futuro Latino Coalition (*Boris Ozuna); Harrisonburg City Parks and Rec (Sarina Hartman and *Ali ?); Camp Light (Kelly Troxell); Waynesboro YMCU (Sue Clark); RMH Wellness Center (Emily Sherrill); Speech and Language Center (Courtland Meyer); Universal Design Project (Sarah and Caroline Pruett); Overcoming Barriers and Special Olympics (Teresa Martilik); Harrisonburg Rockingham Parents of Children with Down Syndrome (Kathleen Gibson); SVIWC Team (Daniel Barnhart, Amanda Campbell, Jill Lassiter, Tom Moran, Danette Gibbs, Scott Pruett, and Taylor Lavin); Individuals with Disabilities and Family Members (Mona, Abdel, and Zeinab Rabie)

*=first-time attendee

Welcome and Introductions of New Attendees

Meeting Dates

  • When Is Good poll identified both our Friday afternoon time as well as today’s time (Mondays from 12:30-2:00) as optimal. We originally intended to stick with our Friday time for consistency’s sake (though had to have a Monday meeting this month due to a scheduling conflict.) However, after hearing feedback from meeting attendees and realizing that changing the time would result in a wider variety of people being able to attend at least some of our meetings, the project team has determined that we will alternate between the two meeting times, pending availability of meeting space.  
  •  ACTION STEP – Future meetings will alternate between Mondays (12:30-2:00) and Fridays (3:30-5:00), pending availability of meeting space. A tentative schedule for future meetings is at the end of these minutes. Additionally, announcements will be sent out each month confirming the date, time and location. 

Coalition Self-Assessment

  • Call for participation and link sent out week prior to this meeting, reminder to be sent in coming week
  • Takes 5 minutes to complete, option to be entered in drawing for gift card for participating
  • Information needed from all coalition members / attendees to get feedback on progress of coalition, what we are doing well, and areas for improvement
  •  ACTION STEP: Please complete the coalition self-assessment if you have not yet done so! 


  • Still a number of scholarships available for individuals with disabilities and financial need to try out a new wellness opportunity
  • As a point of clarification – “financial need” is broadly defined. It can be simply that the family has to spend a large amount on medical expenses or equipment and so does not have enough expendable income for extracurricular activities, or it can be that the family lives on a fixed income or receives public assistance. Anyone who sees finances as a barrier to participation should be encouraged to apply.
  • Very limited number of applications have been submitted – looking for new ways to advertise
  •  ACTION STEP: Request to wellness organizations – We want to provide ideas of programs in which individuals might want to consider enrolling in marketing materials included with the application form. If you are willing to promote an opportunity at your organization, please talk to Dr. Tom Moran. 

Events on Website

  • Anyone can post inclusive-oriented events on our website, which we will then also strive to share on social media.
  •  ACTION STEP: Please post events at your organizations that may be of interest to people related to the coalition or individuals with disabilities. 

Guest Speaker on Strategic Planning: Boris Ozuna from Futuro Latino Coalition and the Institute for Innovation in Health and Human Services at James Madison University

  • Boris outlined the seven strategies for action that can be used by any coalition to accomplish its goal(s). These included strategies targeted at both individuals and the greater environment/culture. In order to effectively accomplish our goals, we should strive to use most or all of these strategies. These are outlined at the end of these minutes.
  • Strategies also need to target the various segments of the population, including: youth, parents, community leaders, social services, and other institutions.
  • The group then worked on brainstorming ideas of specific actions we could take as a group that fall under each of the action steps. The ideas generated, as well as descriptions of the seven strategies, are at the end of these minutes, as well as on a Google doc – link provided below.
  • Ideas should align with our mission statement: “To work together to identify needs, provide training, and increase opportunities for individuals with disabilities to engage in wellness activities and sports throughout the Shenandoah Valley.”
  • These ideas generated will be used to develop our strategic plan and area(s) of focus for 2019.
  • Once the strategic plan is established, we will prioritize and determine when we want to accomplish each goal, who will be in charge of each action item, what the next steps are, and how we intend to accomplish each goal.
  •  ACTION STEP: We invite anyone interested to add ideas to this Google Doc. 

Member Announcements:

  • Camp Light applications are being accepted, and weeks are filling up. Attendance is free. Open to individuals with medical, physical, or behavioral conditions and other special needs, including at risk youth.
  • Community Connections Resource Fair for individuals with disabilities is from 10-1 PM on March 16th at Smithland Elementary. This is a collaboration between Precious Times, the Down Syndrome Association, and the Special Education Advisory Committee. The flyer (English and Spanish versions) is on our website ( On-site inclusive childcare will be provided.
  • Virginia Department of Education will be hosting the I’m Determined Youth Summit for youth with disabilities ages 13-21 on June 12-14. This is open to youth from across the state. We especially want more representation from the Harrisonburg area, as very few have attended in the past. Attendance is completely free – all transportation, meals, and lodging are provided. Applications are due March 8.
  • JMU Nursing and Shenandoah Valley Autism Partnership hosts a monthly Teen Social Night for individuals with autism and/or other disabilities. Next one is March 15. ( or
  • The Shenandoah Valley Autism Partnership hosts a monthly Lunch Bunch from 11:30-1:00 PM. Check out their facebook page for specific dates. Bring your own lunch. Parents of children with autism can come to learn about services. Community organizations serve as presenters. (

Next Meeting:  Friday, February 22, 3:30-5:00 PM at City Hall, Rms. 11 and 12 

Additional Spring Meeting Dates:

  •  Friday, March 29, 3:30-5:00 PM 
  •  Monday, April 29, 12:30-2:00 PM 
  •  Friday, May 31, 3:30-5:00 PM 

Ideas generated by coalition members are in gray boxes.

7 Comprehensive Strategies

Strategy Description & Example Example
Provide Information The goal is to change knowledge and beliefs. Raise awareness of a problem and what the community is doing about it. Op eds, flyers, discussions, Info session, social media campaign, debates, individual meetings
  • Tables / info at local events and community festivals – esp. cultural)
  • Articles in newspaper about: 1) coalition, 2) wellness opportunities for IWD, 3) IWD who are successfully participating (also radio and local news)
  • Coalition members continue to spread the word and disseminate to networks
  • Encourage dialogue and conversation for building community
  • Disability awareness event (concert)
  • Newspaper, TV, radio
  • Letting the community know about the coalition / that it exists.
  • Other businesses share info on social media
  • Raising awareness – studies/surveys gather data giving tangible info and the reasons we need those things to exist.
    • And sharing that data!
  • Deliver flier to events posted on calendar on website
  • Educate businesses / wellness orgs on importance of inclusivity in their advertising and how to do this in order to attract more individuals with disabilities as participants
  • Host a community wide event or day of sports for IWD to show that participation is possible; invite community orgs to participate.
  • Identify health fairs going on in the community (including other counties/regions part of the Shenandoah Valley) – have a coalition table.
Build Skills The goal is to give people new abilities to take action. Trainings, practice opportunities, training on how to speak to the media, become familiar with organizing tools, professional development opportunities, advocacy skills
  • Training modules
  • Webinars (accessible anytime)
  • Hands on training for mentors, bus drivers
  • Parent leadership in focus groups (they know what their kids need)
  • Training modules are great! Provide specific training as requested by individual organizations.
  • Coalition provide training!
  • Basic course on core minimum expectations / skills (appropriate language, etc.)
    • Open to business members in the community who want to build relationships
  • Additional courses to build on those skills (gym programs, etc.)
  • Coalition meeting dedicated to how to speak about the issue and advocate
  • Coalition meeting demonstrating adapted class (e.g., yoga)
  • Build skills example
  • ADA
  • Use established resources if possible
  • Train people to represent coalition at events
  • As member organization of the coalition with specific services/skills to do training to other organizations (cross training)
  • Educating providers on working with different abilities
Provide Support Most of us are more likely to take action if someone encourages us or participates with us. Funds, volunteer time, consulting or advising, adding efforts to a local organization, mentoring one-on-one
  • Coalition Consultant to organizations
  • Peer Mentoring
  • Get information out better on volunteer opportunities and share information at April Volunteer month
  • Social media presence and fliers
  • Public mentor / buddy system available to support participation
  • Creative volunteer recruitment and placement
  • Create volunteer base (JMU, EMU, etc.)
    • Give training to volunteers to help with events/classes/programs, etc.
  • Encourage students do community service (volunteer) through programs, institutional, departmental, levels
Enhance Access or Reduce Barriers Ensure there are no barriers to the behavior or action we want people to engage. Improve or provide transportation, scholarships, legal aid, improve language capabilities, interpretation, and change of location
  • Valley Transportation – currently no transportation system outside the city
  • Streaming of meetings to other counties/rural areas
  • Involve immigrant community to volunteer time for interpretation
    • Also academic institutions
  • Enhance access
    • Think about additional options for participation
    • For example a day meeting and an evening meeting
    • Use WebEx or Zoom
  • Provide interpretation about training / programs offered (different languages) different events / locations
  • Address need for transportation – provide data to public officials (proof of need)
    • What transportation is available that isn’t available to individuals with physical / mental disabilities
  • Provide training to transportation drivers – identify needs / how to interact and support individuals with special needs
  • Translate documents and website
  • Transportation vouchers (scholarships)
  • Identify close “county” transportation stops
  • Change the physical design
  • Discuss with individuals with special needs daily challenges they face in or out of home
    • Working on eliminating those challenges will enable coalition to provide feedback to other organizations that serve non-special needs individuals in city and county
Change Consequences/ Provide Incentives Providing incentives or increasing / creating consequences has a strong effect on individuals and institutions. Examples of Incentives: Public acknowledgements, awards, discounts

Examples of Consequences: Interruptions, bad press, penalties, or even protests.

  • Identify need group (participants) that need incentive to find community groups offering services
  • News stories about organizations providing opportunities
  • Inclusive wellness challenge – hosted by the coalition (e.g., measuring “steps – for some type of award or public acknowledgment)
  • Social media posts about organizations, individuals
  • Wellness highlights
Change the Physical Design “Studies show that if a city has good sidewalks available, if they connect places people want to go, if they are safe, people would walk more…” Improve infrastructure, build or renovate a building, art work, monuments
  • Accessible and close parking availability
  • Crosswalks and sidewalks to promote safety
  • Encourage places to install new accessible parking signs that show ACTIVE person in wheelchair
  • Encourage art in wellness locations that portrays people with disabilities being active – inclusive art
  • Advocating for sidewalks
  • Change physical design – experts participate in making sure spaces are accessible to those who have disabilities
  • Access where/ what places need changes the most
  • Identify places of business where individuals with disabilities visit the most
Change Policies, Practices, and Procedures The goal is to ensure that policies and procedures promote a positive behavior. Policies and procedures should guide and transform our culture. It is almost impossible to achieve community-level objectives without addressing some aspects of local policy. Pass a city ordinance, change a law, improve, change, or implement operational procedures.

Note: be careful of unintended consequences!

  • Streamline process for individuals in wheelchairs getting onto and off of city buses
  • Public transportation city/county partnership – change county policy
  • Accessible downtown – cut curbs, crosswalks, parking spots,
  • Policy requiring public funded wellness organizations to have someone trained to work with IWD
  • Get every organization to outline on paper (accessible to public) how an IWD should access their services (procedure); if they don’t have a definitive procedure, encourage them to define one and educate their staff on the procedure.
  • Bring up ADA and make sure places are providing options / opportunities that make it an accessible place/program, etc. for individuals with disabilities
  • Improve/change
  • Provide data WHY its needed
  • Re-write policy – give / provide solutions
  • Put action plan into action
  • When trying to change the policy / law (etc.)
  • Work towards getting public Parks and Rec departments to include disability notations or section in their activities guide.