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Center for Disabilities announces topics and another keynote speaker for 2015 Spring Symposium

VERMILLION, S.D. -- The University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine’s Center for Disabilities is in the final planning stages for its second Spring Symposium, to be held March 30–April 1 in Chamberlain, S.D. at Cedar Shore Resort. The symposium’s theme is “Promoting Leadership and Engaging Communities.” Today, the Center announces the different types of topics, sessions and workshops that attendees will experience at the symposium, and an additional keynote speaker.

For the 2015 Spring Symposium, topics are focused on using technology apps, dealing with behavior issues, family leadership, employment supports, collaborative leadership, along with the expertise the Center is known for, like Autism Spectrum Disorder and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder related topics. Like last year, there will also be a World Café community conversation and topical table talks where attendees can share their knowledge and experience and work together as a team to discuss how to overcome job-related challenges and community issues.

Some of the session titles include “Adaptive Skills Lab,” where attendees move from station to station and learn how to incorporate support in a home environment with washing clothes, dressing independently and shopping skills; and “What to do when ‘Leisure’ isn’t all Fun & Games,” a session focused on individuals and their struggles during unstructured times like recess and play time, and how to reduce the stressors during those times. More titles will be announced soon.

The first keynote speaker this year is Andy Imparato, Association of University Centers on Disabilities executive director. The Center is excited to announce another keynote speaker, Joe Steffy, the sole proprietor of Poppin’ Joe’s Gourmet Kettle Korn. Steffy is a business owner with a dual diagnosis of Down Syndrome and ASD, and since founding Poppin Joe’s in 2005, you can now find his popcorn in Walmart, fairs, and other events throughout Kansas, Georgia and nationwide. You can find more information about Poppin Joe’s at

“I am excited about our second annual symposium and the chance for all of us to come together, share ideas and learn from each other,” said Wendy Parent-Johnson, Center for Disabilities executive director. “We can celebrate our successes and strategize to address the issues we face. This event is about becoming leaders in our own right and engaging others to join us.”

For more information on the Center, go to To register for the Spring Symposium, go to If you register before Feb. 1, the early bird price is $135, and increases to $150 after that date. Student registration cost is $75, and family members of or a person with a disability are also $75. One graduate credit or one undergraduate credit is also available from the University of South Dakota.


USD's Sanford School of Medicine is nationally known for excellence. With its award-winning curriculum, the school prepares medical students to practice in all fields of medicine and is particularly recognized and ranked for its reputation in family medicine and rural medicine. In addition to the M.D., it offers graduate degrees in basic biomedical science, sustains a vibrant and forward-looking research agenda, and is home to the interdisciplinary Center for Brain and Behavioral Research.


Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 202 undergraduate and 84 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, Knudson School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 16:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 18 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.

This material is available in an alternate format upon request. Please contact University Relations at 605-677-5759. If you are a person with a disability and need a special accommodation to fully participate in any university activity or event, please contact Disability Services at 605-677-6389 as soon as possible, but no later than 48 hours before the event, so that appropriate arrangements may be made.


Hanna DeLange
USD News