Project Bisita Activities

Community Services: Technical Assistance Department of Public Health & Social Services Project Bisita I Familia
Project Bisita I Familia staff spent a few hours with Suruhana Rosalia Fejeran Mateo, or Mama Chai at Sagan Kottura located in Tumon.Staff were introduced to various traditional Chamoru healing methods and the plants needed.
Vera Blaz, CEDDERS Training Associate (front left), and Jenika Ballesta, CEDDERS Research Associate (kneeling front left), co-facilitated the Project Bisita I Familia Parent Cafe on October 18, 2019 at the Hilton Resort Guam. The theme for the cafe was “Building Strong Relationships with Your Children.” Thirteen parents participated in the event.
Jenika Ballesta, CEDDERS Research Associate (front right), and Vera Blaz, CEDDERS Training Associate (back middle), co-facilitated the Project Bisita I Familia Parent Cafe on November 22, 2019 at the Hilton Resort Guam. The theme for the cafe was “You Are Not Alone.” Six parents participated in the event.

Guam EHDI Participates in the DPHSS Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Fair

Guam Early Hearing Detection & Intervention
November 24, 2019: Guam EHDI participated in the Department of Public Health and Social Services (DPHSS) Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Fair held at the Agana Shopping Center. Information and resources were provided to attendees on the importance of early hearing screening, detection, and intervention. Pictured from left to right, Tanya Simer, Guam CEDDERS Research Associate; Clarissa Leon Guerrero, UOG Social Work Intern.

Guam EHDI Participates in the G.A.L.A. Power of Play Outreach

Guam Early Hearing Detection & Intervention
November 16, 2019: Clarissa Leon Guerrero, UOG Social Work Intern, is pictured helping two children who participated in the Pom Pom Drop activity for toddlers to develop their fine motor skills, coordination, and concentration at the Power of Play Outreach at Sinajana Community Center. Not pictured: Tanya Simer, Guam CEDDERS Research Associate.
November 23, 2019: Clarissa Leon Guerrero, UOG Social Work Intern assisted a mother and her toddler with the Pom Pom Drop activity at the Power of Play Outreach held at Toto Gardens GHURA. Not pictured: Tanya Simer, Guam CEDDERS Research Associate.

The CARE Project

Guam Early Hearing Detection & Intervention

Guam’s Positive Parents Together Inc. (GPPT) the non-profit parent driven organization responsible for facilitating the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH) Parent Support Group for Guam’s families with children identified with a hearing loss has had an exciting and busy September!

GPPT hit the ground running in September with a Deaf Awareness Proclamation signing at the Governor’s Conference Room on Monday, September 9, 2019.  Present at the signing was Governor Lourdes Leon Guerrero, Senator Kelly Marsh (Taitano), Ann Marie Cruz, GPPT Board President, Mary-Therese, GPPT Board Vice President, Evelyn Claros, GPPT Board Treasurer, Trisha Suzuki, Parent Mentor, Margarita Gay, DPHSS Nursing Administrator, Kirsten Rosario, GCC ASL Instructor, Terrie Fejarang, retired Guam CEDDERS Associate Director, Marie Wusstig, Guam CEDDERS Training Associate along with numerous supporters present to witness the inaugural declaration of Deaf Awareness Month for the month of September.

As part of celebrating Deaf Awareness month , GPPT spearheaded activities to promote Deaf Awareness in the community with a WAVE at the Paseo Loop on Friday, September 13. Then on Sunday, September 15,  members of the community were invited to show their support by participating in first Deaf Awareness Outreach held at the Agana Shopping Center.  The group also organized a special Sunday Mass for members of the DHH Community and their families on September 22 at the Our Lady of Purification Church in Maina.  Family members and friends attended to celebrate September, Deaf Awareness Month.

GPPT also organized its first Deaf Awareness fundraising dinner.  The purpose for this event was to bring awareness to the community of the issues that DHH families and their children face.  Funds raised were identified to support DHH families with hearing aids and other necessities families may require such as adequate health and or educational resources for their DHH child.

GPPT continued to meet with Guam EHDI and The CARE Project of North Carolina, via Zoom to finalize plans for the first Guam CARE Project Family Retreat. In November, the collaborative efforts between Guam EHDI – Fitme Project , GPPT and The CARE Project from North Carolina, held its first Guam CARE Project Family Retreat on November 8 – 10, 2019.  Members from North Carolina’s CARE Project, under the direction of Johnnie Sexton, Executive Director of The CARE Project facilitated the three-day Family Retreat at the Lotte Hotel Guam.  Day one was an informal meeting with the families to meet with the volunteers, The CARE Project Team and Guam EHDI staff and allow for questions families may have regarding the retreat.  On day two, the team presenting included Pediatric Audiologist, John J. (JJ) Whicker, Director, Inspirational Speaker, Katie Whicker, Parent Mentors Bo and Jessica Peterson and their sons, Oscar and Magnus.  The families experienced a motivational seminar facilitated by Katie Whicker, a woman with Treacher Collins Syndrome and has grown up with a hearing loss.  Parents, engaged in a focus group facilitated by JJ Whicker, “The Emotional Journey” which allowed parents to share their stories related to their children’s birth and diagnosis of deafness and hearing loss. This focus group allowed for the parents to openly express their grief among a safe group of listeners who understood and had shared experiences. In the afternoon, two families volunteered to be recorded sharing their stories to provide The CARE Project footage to share as they conduct sensitivity training with hearing screeners and health care professionals.  The rest of the afternoon was spent with the main focus group split in two smaller groups (mothers and fathers) to further openly discuss their experiences and challenges in a more private and intimate setting with parent mentors Bo and Jessica Peterson.  Parents spent the final morning in two seminars led by JJ Whicker, “Understanding Your Child’s Hearing” and “Disability Law:  Knowing Your Rights and Advocating for Your Child”.  The group convened for one last photo before departing.

Parents, The CARE Project Team, Guam’s Positive Parents Together (GPPT) and Guam Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (Guam EHDI) staff at the Friday night Meet
and Greet. Seated are Jessica and Bo Peterson, The CARE Project Parent Mentors, Katie Whicker, inspirational speaker. Standing: JJ Whicker The CARE Project Facilitator.
JJ Whicker, Pediatric Audiologist and volunteer with The CARE Project Family Retreat Team provided families with an overview of “How to Understand Your Child’s Hearing Loss.
A volunteer from the Academy of Our Lady of Guam (AOLG) Interact Group play with children at the Family Retreat.
Volunteers from the Academy of Our Lady of Guam (AOLG) Interact Group assist with caring for the youngest son of the Model Parent Mentors who facilitated theEmotional Journey component of The Guam CARE Project Family Retreat.
Children of parents attending The Guam CARE Project Family Retreat are pictured with a volunteer from the Academy of Our Lady of Guam (AOLG) Interact Group.
Dangkulu na si yu’us ma’ ase to the families, who participated in the three day retreat, The CARE Project Team, volunteers from GCC’s ASL classes, AOLG Interact Group, and DOE‘s Middle and Elementary School Teachers along with GPPT and Guam EHDI/CEDDERS for making the event a success for the parents and children!

Langston University in collaboration with Guam CEDDERS Provided Technical Assistance and Support

CEDDERS CORE Community Services: Technical Assistance Continuing Education
Jacquelin Meno Gouniai completed her successful defense of her dissertation titled, “Mental Health Literacy of Varying Obsessive-compulsive Disorder Manifestations: An Exploration of the Perceptions of Guam-based Medical Providers and Clergy” on November 15. Ms. Gouniai, a student in the Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) Program at California Southern University, received technical assistance and support from a Langston University research grant, in collaboration with Guam CEDDERS, which aims to encourage and support research conducted by and on minority populations relating to disabilities.

CNMI Special Education Program Gathers Stakeholder Input

Community Services: Technical Assistance Continuing Education Developmental Disabilities

On November 25, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) Public School System (PSS), Special Education Program convened its Special Education State Advisory Panel (SESAP), CNMI’s key stakeholder group, comprised of PSS administrators, agency/organization representatives, parent representatives, and individuals with disabilities. Guam CEDDERS June De Leon supported the CNMI Special Education Director during the review of CNMI’s FFY 2018 Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part B Annual Performance Report (APR) indicator performance data and information, including discussion of reasons for “slippage” from last reporting year’s performance, where applicable. In addition, trend data for each APR indicator were reviewed to gather input from SESAP members on proposed indicator targets for FFY 2019, a requirement of the FFY 2018 IDEA Part B APR. SESAP’s stakeholder input for proposed FFY 2019 APR indicator targets was a consensus amongst all members.

On the same day, Ms. De Leon supported the PSS Assessment Coordinator who facilitated an afternoon session with 21 special education teachers and student teachers on the “CNMI Spring 2019 Multi-State Alternate Assessment (MSAA) Results & Data Interpretation.” The components of the district, school, and individual student reports were reviewed to increase understanding of the student results from administering the Spring 2019 MSAA. In addition, implications for improving academic instruction for students with significant cognitive disabilities was discussed with resources provided to support lesson plan development. Positive feedback from the session indicated that the information shared, especially the student results from the Spring 2019 MSAA administration, was helpful to improve instruction and to be prepared for the Spring 2020 MSAA administration.

On November 25, Guam CEDDERS June De Leon (sitting left front) supported the CNMI Special Education State Advisory Panel (SESAP) members during the review of CNMI’s
FFY 2018 IDEA Part B APR.

GDOE Provides an Online Tool for Students with Reading Barriers

Community Services: Technical Assistance Continuing Education Developmental Disabilities Guam Department of Education

The Guam Department of Education (GDOE) in partnership with Guam CEDDERS held overview sessions on Nov. 25-26 at the GDOE Tiyan main office for Special Education teachers, Division personnel, and parents centered on how to use Bookshare to help students with a print disability have access to reading materials. Bookshare, a Benetech initiative, is an ebook library that contains over 770,000 titles. Bookshare makes reading easier for people with reading barriers such as dyslexia, blindness, and physical disabilities. Bookshare allows users to listen to books being read aloud, to follow along with audio and highlighted text, to read in large type, and to read in Braille. Free membership in Bookshare is available for all qualified U.S. students of any age through funds from the U.S. Department of Education.  The sessions were facilitated by Christine Jones, the Associate Director for U.S. Education for Bookshare/Benetech.

On Nov. 25, Christine Jones (standing), Bookshare/Benetech Associate Director of U.S. Education; assists Untalan Middle School Special Education teachers Beverly Chargualaf (left) and Dolores Bakker (right).
On Nov. 26, representatives from the GDOE Psych program listen to the Bookshare presentation. From L-R: Alma Terbio, Psych Evaluator; Marita Gogue, Psych Evaluator; Diella Rico, Academic Evaluator; and Maria Pia Watson, Psych Evaluator.

Program Completion Quickly Approaching for EPICS Scholars

Continuing Education EPICS Interdisciplinary Pre-Service Preparation

The light at the end of the tunnel is shining brightly for 18 scholars in the Educating Pacific Island Clinicians in Speech Pathology (EPICS) Project as they get closer to earning their graduate degree in Speech Language Pathology from San José State University (SJSU).

Now in the fifth and last year of the project, scholars have a very challenging workload that will only intensify as the final semester approaches. Scholars continue to take online classes and complete their practicum hours to meet course requirements for a Master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology. In addition, scholars will be preparing and taking their program’s comprehensive examination May 2, 2020.  They will also be preparing and taking the PRAXIS for Speech-Language Pathologists shortly after.

In June 2020, the second cohort of scholars will be spending about eight weeks in an externship in San José, California. Graduation will take place on Guam in August.

The EPICS Project is supported by a personnel preparation grant from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs, awarded to SJSU, in partnership with Guam CEDDERS.

Nicole Duenas, CCC-SLP, (Center) supervises EPICS Scholars Megan Merfalen (Left) at Wettengel Elementary and Joseph Mendiola (R) at J. M. Guerrero Elementary School.
Meagan Terlaje, EPICS Scholar (Left), has her Practicum Placement at C.L. Taitano Elementary School, under the supervision of Terry Lujan, CCC-SLP (Right).
Liahlanni Cruz, EPICS Scholar (Left), works with Michelle Camacho, CCC-SLP (Right), at P.C. Lujan Elementary School.
Rowena Dimla, CCC-SLP (Left), provides supervision for Aileen Serrano, EPICS scholar (Right), at Upi Elementary School.
Camille Onglao Gonzales, EPICS Scholar (Left), works with Elizabeth Blas, CCC-SLP (Right), in her Practicum site at the Guam Early Intervention System (GEIS).
Cassandra Dimla, EPICS Scholar (L), earns her practicum hours under the supervision of Erica Sgro, CCC-SLP (R), at Maria Ulloa and Finegayan Elementary Schools.
Bobbie Obillo, EPICS Scholar (Left), is supervised by Melanie Torre, CCC-SLP (Right), at D.L. Perez Elementary School.
Erica Sgro, SLP-CCC (L), supervises Lisa Eclavea, EPICS Scholar (R), at Machananao Elementary School.
Lillian Reyes, EPICS Scholar (Right), is supervised by Bernice Cepeda, CCC-SLP (Left), at Agueda Johnston Middle School.
Melanie Torres, CCC-SLP (Left), supervises Dianne Sapido, EPICS Scholar (Right), at D.L. Perez Elementary and Adacao Elementary School.

2019 AUCD Conference Engages Leaders to Lead Change

AUCD CEDDERS CORE Developmental Disabilities

Over 1,100 people from around the United States and internationally participated in the 2019 Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) Conference in Washington D.C. from November 17th to November 21st, 2019. The theme, “Leading Change Together,” focused on how people with and without disabilities come together to celebrate the many ways to lead change as an organization that works with diverse communities and people through research, practices, and advocacy that impacts a broad spectrum of disabilities. The extensive pool of resources and knowledge in one setting ignited interesting discussions and generated ideas on how to implement new program services as well as to enhance existing services to better serve individuals with disabilities and their families.

During the conference, AUCD also hosted a meeting with Julie Hocker, Administration on Disabilities Commissioner, who provided insights on the administration’s initiatives: increasing life expectancy of individuals with disabilities, health education, healthcare, and post-secondary transition services.

The AUCD is a membership organization that supports and promotes a national network of university-based interdisciplinary programs. Network members consist of 67 University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD) receiving core funding from the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AIDD); 43 Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND) Programs receiving core funding from the Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB); 15 Intellectual and Developmental Disability Research Centers (IDDRC), receiving core funding from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute for Child Health and Development (NICHD). These programs serve and are located in every U.S. state and territory and are all part of universities or medical centers. They serve as a bridge between the university and the community, bringing together the resources of both to achieve meaningful change.

On November 21, AUCD facilitated a US Territories University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities in Education, Research, & Service (UCEDD) Directors’ meeting that was attended by UCEDD Directors and Staff Members from Guam,
Puerto Rico, Saipan, and the US Virgin Islands. Pictured from the front row (LR) Carol Pagan, Puerto Rico UCEDD Director; Jennifer Castro, Saipan UCEDD Director; Kimberly Mills, Virgin Islands UCEDD Director; Pamela Sablan, Saipan Developmental Disabilities Center Director. Second row (L-R) Michelle Aguigui, Guam CEDDERS Associate Director; Shamika Thomas, Virgin Islands UCEDD Program Coordinator; Dawn Rudolph, AUCD Senior Director of Technical Assistance & Network Engagement; June DeLeon, Guam CEDDERS Interim Director; Tafa Tua-Tupuola, American Samoa UCEDD Director.
On November 20, AUCD hosted a UCEDD Director’s meeting with ACL Commissioner Julie Hocker. US Territories’ UCEDD Directors are pictured with the ACL Commissioner. (L-R) June DeLeon, Guam CEDDERS Interim Director; Jennifer Castro, Saipan UCEDD Director; Julie Hocker, ACL Commissioner; and Tafa Tua-Tupuola, American Samoa UCEDD Director.

Guam Congressman Meets with Guam CEDDERS Leaders

AUCD CEDDERS CORE Developmental Disabilities

The “Hafa Adai spirit” and gracious welcome from Guam Congressman Michael San Nicolas and his wife, Mrs. Kathy San Nicolas, could be felt in our nation’s capital as CEDDERS Interim Director June De Leon and CEDDERS Associate Director Michelle Aguigui visited the Congressman in his office in Washington D.C. during the AUCD Hill visits on November 21th. Surrounded by the classical ambiance of the “Tunnel Restaurant,” the afternoon was filled with networking and educating our Congressman on topics that were discussed during the 2019 AUCD Annual Conference, such as increasing life expectancy of individuals with disabilities, improving healthcare, and post-secondary education transition services. The Congressman also shared the various initiatives that he is working on to increase services for individuals with disabilities residing on Guam.

On November 21, CEDDERS visits Capitol Hill. (L-R): Michelle Aguigui, Guam CEDDERS Associate Director; Kathy San Nicolas, wife of Congressman; June De Leon, Guam CEDDERS Interim Director; and Michael San Nicolas, Guam Congressman.