About Down Country

Down Country:  A Rural Awareness & Education Initiative

Outside the Box

www.upatdowncountry.com 217-617-3568 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Facebook/UpatDownCountry

What is Down Country?  It’s a local non-profit organization founded by ten area residents in September of 2011 for individuals concerned with issues related to medical and educational abilities and disabilities.  It’s dedicated to helping provide training and promoting positive awareness for individuals of all disabilities and abilities.

Primary Mission:  Down Country operates with two goals: 1) to promote positive awareness for individuals with disabilities/exceptional abilities in the Tri-State area and 2) Facilitating the education/specializes training of teachers, therapists, administrators, doctors, nurses, support staff, families, and rural residents working with differently abled/exceptionally gifted people within the Tri-State rural community. It’s dedicated to helping provide training and promoting positive awareness for individuals of all disabilities and abilities. 

Down Country operates off three key philosophical ideals: 

Every child is a gift. Every child can learn.  Every child learns differently. 

 

Down Country utilizes Down syndrome to provide an overview of disability awareness. It is NOT an organization for only for those affected by Down syndrome, but for the ENTIRE differently abled/exceptionally gifted Tri-State community that learns outside of the box. Down Country operates as an umbrella educational and positive awareness information share uniting the differently abled/exceptionally gifted community among the three states (MO, IL, IA) comprising the Tri-State area

How does a focus on Down syndrome benefit a rural community?  Down syndrome has no syndrome specific conditions, but is instead a melting pot of potential multiple conditions.  This means any condition someone with Down syndrome has, someone who does not have Down syndrome will have/may have/could have the same condition. Example: Autism, Cardiac Concerns, Celiac Disease, Allergy/Asthma, Ear, Nose, Throat Concerns, Digestive Difficulties, Respiratory Concerns, Speech Issues, Cerebral Palsy, Marfan Syndrome, Learning Styles, Vision Issues, Hearing, Cancer, Behavior Disorders, ETC…ETC…ETC…For a rural area it provides a generalized overview of issues related to education and medical care for differently abled/exceptionally gifted people.  This means more bang for your buck for a rural community! The organization’s focus is on helping ease the burden places on rural communities by providing a privately funded avenue to national resources for education, training and awareness for teachers, therapists, administrators, doctors, nurses, support staff, friends and families of those who learn outside the standardized norm, whether that is because they are differently-abled or exceptionally gifted.  Down Country works to promote the benefits a focus on Down syndrome can bring to rural communities for individuals of all abilities and disabilities. 

*The Down Country Board  began this mission with two goals: 1)to promote positive awareness for individuals with disabilities/exceptional abilities in the Tri-State  rural community and 2)to provide specialized education/training to educators, families/friends, and professionals within the rural community.

Down Country's website (www.upatdowncountry.com ) will help you find nationally recognized resources and links to education and training on disabilities/exceptional abilities designed for professionals and families in rural communities & pre-screened for an emphasis on education and positive awareness.  There are over 65 workshops of audio training from the NDSC 2011 conference on all aspects of differently-abled life available in the training and resource section.  Down Country also releases information via its Face book page at www.facebook.com/UpatDownCountry and e-mail updates.  It utilizes and is utilized by its linked organizations as a conduit for sharing information between the different support organizations/hospitals/clinics and Tri-State area schools.

 

Down Country recently unveiled it latest project i Care - i Pads for Tri-State Area Schools which helps place I Pads with Special Education/Gifted Teachers & Professionals This program is funded via private contributions and grants and performs a valuable service to the Tri-State community by allowing special needs professionals to be proactive in the care of Tri-State kids education, especially for those who "learn outside the box".  The  I Pad is the only tool currently capable of hitting all three learning styles:  auditory, visual, and kinesthetic. 

 

Please feel free to e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 217-617-3568 for more information or if you would like to receive a once a month e-mail update.   Down Country is a 501C3 organization - donations are tax deductible

 

Why is Down Country needed?

Rural areas are the first hit with budget cuts.  It is wonderful to legislate and advocate and that should ABSOLUTELY continue, but it is not feasible to wait for lawmakers to supply funding.  It is our RESPONSIBILITY first.

Additionally, it is almost impossible for rural districts, hospitals, agencies, therapist’s etc. to keep up with multiple specific or specialized abilities/disabilities.  Most are forced to keep training generalized to accommodate the largest population.

More it is almost impossible to get nationally recognized training/speakers in this area for our families/professionals…(See map) families/professionals within this 50 miles radius are at least an hour to an hour and a half away from a major metropolitan city.

    

Down Country will provide INDIVIDUALS assistance/education/training needed to accommodate more specialized abilities/disabilities.

How will Down Country accomplish its goals?

Each year Down Country will select individuals to attend nationally recognized conferences specializing in an overview of differently abled/exceptionally gifted issues as part of its "I Learn" national schoarship program. The first "I Learn" national conference attendees are selected to attend in order to be vetted is chosen by the Board of Down Country and  is currently the National Down Syndrome Congress annual convention, for the following reasons: 1) It provides a broad base of education and medical coverage with over 65 workshops from over 45 countries on every aspect of the differently-abled issues and offers over 15 ½ hours of continuing education credit for professional and 2) the convention places a special emphasis on the importance of self-advocates. In order to better understand issues of the differently-abled, rural community’s need more exposure to self-advocates and the POSSIBILITIES comprehensive educational and medical support provide. To often a once size fits all label is applied to differently-abled individual’s, exposure to self-advocates helps eradicate this myth. Upon completion, attendees are required to “Pay It Forward” with a community awareness/education event, thereby sharing the information they’ve gathered. Once recipients have completed the “Pay It Forward” aspect of the Down Country program, they are eligible to apply for funding for any other nationally recognized conferences/training in the differently abled/exceptionally gifted arena. The only stipulation being that the information learned at the conference again must be “Paid Forward".

Down Country plans to accomplish its goals through the following five year plan cycle (Please review 5 year plan visual):

 

 1

1st year five individuals/families will be selected by the Down Country Board sent to a nationally recognized conference (National Down Syndrome Conference is the present choice as it supplies 15 ½ hours of Continuing Education credit for professionals) on Down syndrome. Down syndrome is a perfect testing ground for a rural community for an overview of disabilities and disability awareness.

In return these five individuals/families will present a community/professional awareness program sharing what they learned (paying it forward) within the 50 miles radius of need.

2nd year The five individuals/families provided they have completed their community awareness program and shared their knowledge will be considered vetted by the Down Country Board and will be eligible for funding for training at a nationally recognized conference/training program in another disability/exceptional ability area. 

Down Country in the second year will choose ten individuals/families to attend a nationally recognized conference.

In return the ten individuals/families will present a community/professional awareness program sharing what they learned (paying it forward) within the 50 miles radius of need.

The five vetted individuals attending specialized training will also be required to present community/professional awareness program (paying it forward) within the 50 miles radius of need.

This results in 15 individuals/families with current knowledge assisting in educating/promoting positive awareness for individuals with disabilities/exceptional abilities

3rd year The 15 individuals/families provided they have completed their community awareness program and shared their knowledge will be considered vetted by the Down Country Board and will be eligible for funding for training at a nationally recognized conference/training program in another disability/exceptional ability area. 

Down Country in the third year will choose ten more individuals/families to attend a nationally recognized conference.

In return the ten individuals/families will present a community/professional awareness program sharing what they learned (paying it forward) within the 50 miles radius of need.

The 15 vetted individuals attending specialized training will also be required to present community/professional awareness program (paying it forward) within the 50 miles radius of need.

This results in 25 individuals/families with current knowledge assisting in educating/promoting positive awareness for individuals

4th year: The 25 individuals/families provided they have completed their community awareness program and shared their knowledge will be considered vetted by the Down Country Board and will be eligible for funding for training at a nationally recognized conference/training program in another disability/exceptional ability area.  

Down Country in the fourth year will choose ten more individuals/families to attend a nationally recognized conference.

In return the ten individuals/families will present a community/professional awareness program sharing what they learned (paying it forward) within the 50 miles radius of need.

The 25 vetted individuals attending specialized training will also be required to present community/professional awareness program (paying it forward) within the 50 miles radius of need.

This results in 35 individuals/families with current knowledge assisting in educating/promoting positive awareness for individuals

5th year: year The 35 individuals/families provided they have completed their community awareness program and shared their knowledge will be considered vetted by the Down Country Board and will be eligible for funding for training at a nationally recognized conference/training program in another disability/exceptional ability area. 

Down Country in the fifth year will choose ten more individuals/families to attend a nationally recognized conference.

In return the ten individuals/families will present a community/professional awareness program sharing what they learned (paying it forward) within the 50 miles radius of need.

The 35 vetted individuals attending specialized training will also be required to present community/professional awareness program (paying it forward) within the 50 miles radius of need.

This results in 45 individuals/families with current knowledge assisting in educating/promoting positive awareness for individuals.

__________________________

After the fifth year in the program in order to be eligible for additional funding for training requests individuals/families will need to resubmit for original training because after 5 years in the fast paced medical/educational field, they would no longer be current Currency in training and knowledge is vitally important to Down Country’s mission and the Tri-State  rural community.

RECAP OF OBJECTIVES

1st Phase/Year Goals- COMPLETED at 6months – following Rhinestones & Rodeo gala…in process of sending first five families/professional to the NDSC (11 total) … See review at end for recap of 1st phase/year goals… Down Country is currently in phase 2

2nd Phase/Year Goals

***Fundraise to send at 2013 (minimum 10) professionals/families to the NDSC conference in Denver, Colorado

Cost approximately $2000.00 per family or per professional –See attached list of fees, but price includes travel costs, hotel, food, conferences, t-shirt, DVD of conference, extra compendium, &

15 ½ hours Continuing Education Credit

THE CATCH:  Those attending in turn must perform a specified and approved number of community awareness/education events within one year of conference attendance

***Fundraise to satisfy specialized training requests from the vetted 5 2012 NDSC attendees from the previous year for their area school/hospital/group/community

THE CATCH:  Must be a nationally recognized speaker/conference/training event/or need area and those attending in turn must perform a specified and approved number of community awareness/education events within one year of conference attendance

***Fundraise for i Care - i Pads for Tri-State Area Schools which helps place I Pads with Special Education/Gifted Teachers & Professionals This program is funded via private contributions and grants and performs a valuable service to the Tri-State community by allowing special needs professionals to be proactive in the care of Tri-State kids education, especially for those who "learn outside the box".  The  I Pad is the only tool currently capable of hitting all three learning styles:  auditory, visual, and kinesthetic. 

 

***Begin promotion & planning of photography exhibit for differently abled/exceptionally gifted awareness “store” (nothing is sold) promoting positive awareness for individuals with special needs for February 2, 2013 Second Annual Rhinestones & Rodeo Art Auction & Dance at the Ambiance in Quincy, Illinois- adding silent auction to event…

 

Coordinate Education/Training Workshops for Sept/Oct/Nov & Feb/March/April in Quincy/Hannibal/Fort Madison or surrounding areas

Begin implementation of once a month "Up Night out" for individuals with special needs 15 and older in September

Coordinate with linked organizations for positive awareness activities i.e. Autism Rally/Buddy Walk Oct 6th in Springfield, IL etc…

Participate in NDSC’s Global Down Syndrome Initiative unveiling in 2012

Examine and evaluate funding availability for previous Down Country NDSC attendees’ continuing education/materials for other abilities and disabilities

In process:  Work with area hospitals (within the 50 miles radius) for information, education, for expectant & new parents with Down Syndrome Diagnosis – Create an information packet (Materials for packet provided by NDSC and Gigi’s) for the hospitals/doctors to give to their new & expectant parents…Additionally, include the book Gifts or Gifts2 with the informational material and the NDSC’s new and expectant parent pamphlet (available at a cost of$1.25 per pamphlet)

In process: Compile list of all hospitals, schools, clinics, nursing homes, advocacy groups within 50miles radius to promote information sharing/training

 In process: Formulate a list of Doctors/Nurses/Therapists/Support Staff/Families etc… who have received additional training in this area and wish to be available for contact

In process:  Create contact list for all organizations to increase coordination

In process:  Promote NDSC’s We’re More Alike Than Different PSA’s

 3rd Phase Goals

By the third year/phase there should be ten new NDSC conference attendees and 15 eligible vetted previous years’ attendees that are eligible for further specialized education.

This process and eligibility continues until the fifth year when attendees would need to renew their currency with Down Country or find new funding sources for training…previous attendees would be eligible for renewed Down Country funding for training…Concept and reasoning behind this is anything further than 5 years in currency is considered out of date

Further continuation of first and second phase goals requiring further determination by BOD

First Phase/Year in review

Incorporated as a non-profit in the state of Missouri September 14, 2011

501c3 organization

Linked to over 50 national and local organizations interested in/promoting educational & individuals with differences or exceptional gifts.

Established website

Began coordination of materials for new & expectant parents

Began Coordinating events and activities for families and friends with area support groups

Promoted Gigi’s Playhouse & “I Have a Voice” traveling art gallery/book project

Presents Public Speaking Events:Down Syndrome support group meetings, Autism support group meetings, Cerebral Palsy support group meetings, organization meetings, school workshops, church groups, Girl Scouts, etc…

October:  Down Syndrome Awareness month - Down Syndrome Public Awareness/Education Events at Pamida every Friday from 4-6pm in Palmyra, Missouri during 2011

Completed catalog sales from Down Syndrome Footprints to help raise money and awareness

Affiliate of the NDSC

Associate of Blessing Hospital Support Group/Quincy Medical Group’s Autism Support Group & Hannibal Regional Hospital

Provides informational materials courtesy of the NDSC & Gigi’s Playhouse & over 35 linked national & local organizations

Informational Website established and building more every day

“I Have A Voice” traveling gallery promoting positive awareness of individuals with Down Syndrome opened for a month each in –Quincy Mall Nov 27-Dec 27 /Hannibal Art Gallery/ Dec 27 – an 27

Guest Speaker:  Jim Faber, President of the NDSC for opening of the I Have a Voice Gallery in Hannibal…while visiting Jim met with over 50 local families from the local support groups, local area teachers, filmed an interview with local TV station, presented to over 300 elementary school students a NDSC More Alike than Different program, & met with the superintendent & assistant superintendent of Hannibal Public Schools for a one on one.

Rhinestones & Rodeo Black Tie Fundraiser held Feb. 4, 2011 Art Auction & Dance (dinner, dance, speakers, art auction-art designed by individuals with Down syndrome or other disability) over 300+ in attendance

Held Shamrock “Just Dance” Event for 200 Palmyra Middle School Students in conjunction with the Palmyra Character Education Committee and Palmyra Park District as a fundraiser & awareness event for Down Country…

Held I Pad workshop discussing apps and funding with Special Guest Speaker Katie Roe from Illinois Assistive Technology Program highlighting IATP and Aug Com/AT devices for special needs

Questions/Comments/Clarifications/or Ideas

 Please Contact Down Country’s Board of Directors at 217-617-3568 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Kate Dougherty President

Tony Dougherty Vice President & Treasurer -Michael Holliday Assistant Treasurer

Dana Pearn-Secretary - Stephanie Demien Assistant Secretary

Daren Griesbaum Director - Melinda Griesbaum Director

Whitney Holliday Director -Clint Allen Director

Kim Triplett Director-Clint Allen Director

Brad Kurz-Director