ARI logo
February 2020
Give Me Five:

Five things you need to know
picture of a hand
ARI staff
1.) ARI 3.0: Staff, Program, and Office Expansion!

ARI has grown by leaps and bounds! Meet the Staff promoting equity, inclusion, and self-determination among Anne Arundel and Howard County residents with disabilities.

It has been a super busy 2 years since ARI last released this newsletter! In that time, we have grown by leaps and bounds. Our office space has doubled. Our staff numbers have nearly doubled. We have fine-tuned our existing programs, and also acquired new grants and community partnerships allowing for innovative pilot programs. For a complete update on the organization, please visit our redesigned and fully accessible website or contact us by phone or email. But, for now, let us introduce to you the ARI Staff helping Anne Arundel and Howard County residents with disabilities to find their own personal power!

Pictured above, from left to right:

Audrey Sellers, Independent Living Program Manager
Angela Jacob, Independent Living Specialist
Betsy Hein, Assistive Technology Program Manager
Nicole Griffith, Office Manager
Leo Biscaia, Youth Transition Specialist
Misty Harding, Independent Living Specialist
Katie Collins-Ihrke, Executive Director
Troy Fitzgerald, Nursing Facility Transition Specialist
Joan Rumenap, Special Projects Program Manager
Kelly Kryspin, Home and Community Based Services Program Manager
Horizon Foundation Mental Health Grantees
    2.) Mental Health Matters!

    Suicide is among the leading causes of     death for American youth and young     adults. The prevalence of suicide and     attempted suicide is even higher for        youth and young adults with disabilities.     Statistics on the relationship between     suicidal behavior and disability status are     few and far between, but still they exist. For example, recent studies show that adults with learning disabilities are 46% more likely to attempt suicide than their peers without learning disabilities. 

ARI won't sit back while the youth in our community experience hopelessness, depression, and isolation. We know that the best solutions come from within the community, so we decided to take action as an organization to address this plague. ARI was recently notified by the The Horizon Foundation that we were awarded their Mental Health Grant to develop and implement suicide prevention curriculum specifically targeted to youth and young adults with disabiities.

In keeping with ARI's philosophy, curriculum development will be led by staff who have lived experience with mental health recovery. ARI welcomes Anne Arundel and Howard County youth and young adults with mental health experiences to contribute their ideas to ARI's suicide prevention curriculum. Please contact Youth Transition Specialist Leo Biscaia at or (443) 701-4351 for more information on how you can help us develop curriculum that will save lives.
Group of youth after an independent living skills class3.) Events, events, and more events!

Check out these upcoming events and don't forget to follow us on Facebook to stay up to date on everything we are doing! Click on the links below for more information about these events.

What's Next? at Anne Arundel Community College on February 17th from 9am-2pm- For transitioning youth with disabilities who are considering attending Anne Arundel Community College, "What's Next?" is an event not to be missed! Sponsored by Accessible Resources for Independence, Anne Arundel Community College, Anne Arundel County Public Schools, and Maryland Department of Disabilities, this dynamic day is designed to educate future and current AACC students with disabilities about resources and strategies for success. For more information, click here.

Are you a current or former college student with a disability who would like to share your unique experiences on the lunchtime student panel? Chosen panelists will receive an Amazon gift card as compensation for their time. Contact Independent Living Program Manager Audrey Sellers at (443) 713-3915 or for information about being on the panel.

Self-Defense for Individuals with Disabilities on February 20th from 6:30-8pm in Glen Burnie-  Join us to learn how to stay in control of your own safety. Come observe demonstrations of self-defense techniques and learn important safety tips. Certified self-defense instructors will help participants adapt techniques to their own comfort and abilities. CLASS IS FULL AND NO LONGER ACCEPTING REGISTRATIONS.

All About Dating & Relationships Workshop on March 4th from 6:30-8:00pm in Columbia- Dating… It’s complicated! In this interactive workshop, Accessible Resources for Independence and Howard County Autism Society present to transitioning youth with disabilities ages 14-24 some important tips and tricks for navigating dating and relationships. Participants will learn how to have fun dating, communicate boundaries, and protect their mental health! $10/person. Scholarships available. For more information, click here.

Tech & Transitioning Youth: Prepare for Success on March 8th from 2:30-4pm in Elkridge- If you have had an IEP and are age 14-24, then this workshop is for you! 
The “Real World” of adult rights and responsibilities requires that YOU speak up for your wants and needs. This can be hard when you have a disability. Come discover how assistive technology can help you make your dreams your reality, try out the tech, and learn how you can get your own! FREE. For more information, click here.

To request information, accommodations, or alternate flyer formats for all events, please contact Audrey at (443) 713-3915 or
Woman pushing a wheelchair outdoors alongside a woman walking
    4.) National Health Survey for     Women with Physical Disabilities

        The survey asks about how you look         for health information and how you         use the Internet. You can complete         the survey either online or over the         phone. It will take 20 to 30 minutes.         Those who finish the survey can         enter a drawing for a gift certificate.

You may be eligible if you:
        •    Are a woman at least 21 years old
        •    Have a mobility impairment due to a chronic, physically disabling condition
        •    Have had this condition for at least 1 year
        •    Have access to a computer or mobile device with an Internet connection
        •    Can understand and express yourself in spoken and written English.

by phone:  832-819-0232
or by email:   

This research is funded by the National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health and conducted by the Baylor College of Medicine Center for Research on Women with Disabilities (CROWD), University of Montana Rural Institute for Inclusive Communities, and the Texas Medical Center Library.

ARI Staff with young adults with disabilities holding posterboard timelines
5.) Enrolling now! Youth Self-Advocacy Training

The Speak Up, Speak Out Self-Advocacy Program is designed for youth with disabilities ages 14-21. Participants of the program will learn essential self-advocacy skills, including: knowing personal strengths and weaknesses, communicating preferences, speaking up for yourself, rights and responsibilities in the adult world,  and conflict resolution. Students will also take part in hands on activities reinforcing lessons learned.

Students ages 14-21, who are in high school or another approved educational program, and have a documented disability (i.e., IEP, 504 plan, or doctor's note), may qualify for free Pre-Employment Transition Services such as Speak Up, Speak Out to prepare them for employment and higher education. Contact your local Division of Rehabilitation Services (DORS) office TODAY for referral! Further information is also available by contacting Leo Biscaia at or (443) 701-4351.