A Friday Evening Opening Session
Creating a Better World for People with Special Needs
Gordon V. Hartman, philanthropist, father of a daughter with special needs, San Antonio, TX
Gordon Hartman is a philanthropist and former businessman who was born and raised in San Antonio. At age 15, while attending a
local seminary, he started his own landscaping business. By age 19, he had earned and saved enough to begin his home building business and by the age of 23 had started a land development company. Over the next 22 years, he grew his company into the largest locally owned home building and land development enterprise in San Antonio. In 2005, he established The Gordon Hartman Family Foundation to pursue his dream of helping children and adults with special needs. In 2010 he opened Morgan’s Wonderland, the world’s first ultra-accessible family fun park designed for kids with special needs. Later this year he will open Monarch Academy which will provide students with special needs a unique learning environment. His devotion to this cause is inspired by his 17-year-old daughter, Morgan, who was born with cognitive and physical special needs.
Growing Up In Holland: A Sibling’s Report From The Front Lines
Jenni Newbury, Co-founder, Camp PALS, Education Resource Manager for Special Olympics Project UNIFY, sister of a brother with DS, Washington, DC.
Jenni is the co-founder of Camp PALS, a week long sleep away camp for young adults with Down syndrome. Camp PALS has been
recognized by both the NDSS and the NDSC over the past 8 years and this summer hosted 113 campers and a full staff of 150
volunteers, all under the age of 25. Jenni is a graduate of Princeton University, where she majored in psychology and elementary
education. During her time at Princeton, Jenni founded Princeton
Disability Awareness which hosts an annual Down Syndrome Conference that welcomes 500 families and their children with Down
syndrome to campus each fall. She completed her senior thesis on the impact of having a sibling with Down syndrome and continues to support the development of new Princeton Disability Awareness initiatives. Jenni now works as the Education Resource Manager for Special Olympics Project UNIFY. Above all else, Jenni is a sibling to Jason Newbury, a self-advocate. It is this role that has defined and sculpted her life and it is Jason’s strength that continues to challenge her to do more.
Living My Dream: A Life Filled with Glee!
Lauren Potter, Self-Advocate, Actress on Fox Television’s Hit Show, “Glee”, Riverside, CA
An inspiration to all, Lauren Potter has proven herself a young woman of strength and of character. Born into a family of three boys, she was blessed to have the playful and gentle guidance of loving brothers. As she grew, their influence stayed with her -making her a social genius and a skilled comedian. Lauren danced before she could walk. At age three, Lauren was in her element from her first dance class. For thirteen years, she loved to dance and craved the stage. She made her acting debut in the film “Mr. Blue Sky”, playing the part of young Andra Little. Her acting skills impressed the producers of “Glee” enough that they offered her the part on the hit Fox television program. Playing the recurring role of Becky Jackson continues to open those doors for Lauren, and she hopes these doors will open wider still!
B Saturday Afternoon Session
Stand Tall, Be Diligent and Find Support
Michael Remus, MS, Director of Student Support Services, Deer Valley Unified School District, Phoenix, AZ
Michael Remus has been a general education teacher, special education teacher, school principal, college instructor, special
education director for a school district, state special education director for the State of Kansas, and is also the parent of four children, two of whom have disabilities. Currently he is Director of Student Support Services for Deer Valley Unified School District in Phoenix, AZ. Most of his professional career has been in the classroom and in training parents and educators. He is co-author of seven books for parents on how special education works, two training curricula based his books, two effective practices manuals on special education for schools, a toolkit with the administrative tools needed to make inclusive education successful and a Disability Awareness Activity Packet for teachers.
Building a Life on their Terms
Monica Walters Martinez & David Martinez, Self-Advocates, Stars of HBO Documentary, Monica & David, FL & Alexandra
Codina, Director & Producer
Monica and David are a married couple who star in the documentary that tells the story of two adults with Down syndrome who get married. It is about their courtship and their married life together. But the documentary is also about what it's like to be a parent of someone with an intellectual disability. The film is directed by Monica’s cousin, Alexandra Codina. The film uses intimate fly-on-the wall footage to reveal the complexity of their story. “Ultimately, it’s about independence, independence with the support.” Monica & David won Best Documentary at last year's Tribeca Film Festival. After airing on HBO in October, Monica and David have been traveling with Codinato attend special screenings of the film around the country as well as doing interviews. The Martinezes are now pursuing acting careers.
C Sunday Morning Session
True Confessions of a Bully, performed by Dionysus Theatre Group, Houston, TX
Written and Directed by Deborah Nowinski, Founding Artistic Director, Dionysus Theatre and the Commissioner of Houston’s
Commission for People With Disabilities. Dionysus Theatre is a non-profit theater organization that brings actors with and without
disabilities together in the theater venue. This seven member inclusive cast touches upon cyber-bulling, name calling and
harassment through the eyes of a bully and those he bullied. This powerful performance will enlighten, empower and entertain the
My Dad and Me
Christopher Scott, Self-Advocate, Actor, Houston, TX
Christopher, along with Donovan Jennings, are the first African American actors with Down syndrome to star in a feature film, My Brother. At the 2006 HBO American Black Film Festival, The Founder's Award for Outstanding Achievement in Independent Cinema was awarded to Christopher Scott for his role in the film. My Brother is a film directed by Academy Award nominee Anthony Lover and the story of two impoverished boys, one of whom is developmentally disabled, and the bond of love they have for each other. “Christopher, who is featured in NDSC’s “We’re More Alike than Different” mini-documentary, is currently employed as a teachers’ assistant at the Rise School of Houston.”