June Workshops Slated To Help Youth With Disabilities Ages 14 And Up With Their Transition Needs


When you live with disabilities, moving into and beyond high school is more complex. And the process is less familiar. Lemonade Living, a Los Alamos nonprofit, is partnering with New Mexico’s Parents Reaching Out to offer Forward@14, a two-part virtual event 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturdays, June 5 and 12, to address issues Los Alamos area youth with disabilities, along with a trusted family member, will face as they navigate their transition to and beyond high school.

In addition, Lemonade Living is recruiting local organizations to participate in a virtual resource fair so participants can talk with people from organizations in the Los Alamos area who can assist them with guidance, resources, services and programs. Organizations will also be able to give a short presentation on what they offer and how they can help.

Forward@14 has been around for six years, since 2015. Every year Parents Reaching Out and their partners work together to make sure each event gets more and more helpful each time, and they do everything they can to deliver this important information to the community. 

Is this event right for you?

Forward@14 is for youth with disabilities and their parents, guardians and other family members. While parents have been deeply involved in their youths’ lives, advocating and making sure they get the support that they need, once in high school, it is a youth’s time to learn to take the lead in his or her future and to choose how he or she will get there.

Experienced family liaisons will share information and lead discussions and interactive activities with participants to cover important issues that come up when transitioning to high school and beyond. These workshops will help youths take a more active role in decisions that affect their lives and learn to advocate for themselves.

  • They’re starting high school, and while adults have been the ones discussing their IEPs up until now, youths have more choices and they want to decide what classes to take.
  • They want to graduate (whether it’s coming up soon or in a few years) and need to plan ahead.
  • They’re about to leave the school system, and want to know what their options are. 

As the name suggests, the information will be especially relevant to 14 year olds because they may be entering high school and starting to make important decisions that will impact their future. But it will also be helpful for older teens and young adults and their families. 

Workshops will cover these important topics:

  • Disability Awareness and Self-Advocacy
  • Disability Laws
  • How to Run Your Own IEP/ISP
  • Options After High School
  • Healthcare Transition
  • Social Opportunities

The workshops will be delivered by Parents Reaching Out over Zoom. Healthcare Liaison Cathy Salazar will lead a session on healthcare transition. Remaining sessions will be led by Outreach and Youth Liaison Adam Shand and Communication and Outreach Manager Jenn Donelli. This event is offered at no cost to participants thanks to the support of New Mexico Developmental Disabilities Planning Council and Developmental Disabilities Support Division.

Shand said, “The reason this event is so important to me and my team is we want to give kids the opportunities, knowledge and tools they need to be prepared for their future and also provide important information that can help their family members and the community members as a whole. On a personal note, being a person with a disability, I know that the transition can be a challenge, and I want kids to be better prepared than I was. There are people on my team who are in the disability community as well. We all want the people who come to the workshop to be as prepared as they can.”

Visit Lemonadeliving.org for a link to sign up for these workshops and the resource fair at no cost to you. Individuals who need any form of accommodations to attend or participate in this meeting should notify the office of Parents Reaching Out at (505) 247-0192 when registering for this event. For questions about the event, contact Parents Reaching Out Family Liaison Adam Shand (ashand@parentsreachingout.org) or Communication and Outreach Manager Jenn Donelli (jdonelli@parentsreachingout.org) at (505) 247-0192. For questions and information about the resource fair, contact Lemonade Living volunteer Margi Harrach (harrachm@comcast.net) at (505) 514-6180.

This local event for Los Alamos area families is hosted and organized by Parents Reaching Out in partnership with Lemonade Living. Parents Reaching Out ( https://parentsreachingout.org/), is a nonprofit whose mission is to enhance positive outcomes for families and children in New Mexico through informed decision making, advocacy, education, and resources. Lemonade Living ( https://www.lemonadeliving.org/) is a Los Alamos nonprofit that serves adults with developmental disabilities and special needs by partnering with other local organizations to offer enriching activities and events, therapy services, job skills training and eventually long-term residential living. They make as accessible as possible any therapies and services needed by our developmental disabilities and special needs community.