Schedule & Sessions

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2017 Conference Schedule

March 30

8:00 AM- Doors Open

9:00 AM- The Power of Play Kickoff Session

10:15 AM- Breakout Session 1

11:45 AM- Lunch (on your own)

12:30 PM- Workout Session with Dr. Amanda Kloo

1:00 PM- Breakout Session 2

2:30 PM- Focus Groups

3:30 PM- Afternoon Break

6:30 PM- The Power of Play Fun Night


March 31

8:00 AM- Doors Open

8:45 AM- Panel Discussions

9:45 AM- Break

10:00 AM- Breakout Session 3

11:30 AM- Lunch (on your own)

12:30 PM- Breakout Session 4

2:00 PM- The Power of Play Launch Session

3:15 PM- Conference Ends


Click here to register for the 2017 Power of Play Conference!

Conference Sessions from 2016 

Let’s Talk About Behavior – 4-session track
Presenter: Jessie Bari, YMCA Buffalo Niagra
Room: Venture Hall

Behavior defines every action and interaction that the children (and adults!) in your program will have. In order to breakdown the topic, we first have to acknowledge its complexity because every child is an individual and every situation is different. Are there universal best practices that can inform a more successful approach? How can you incorporate these practices into your daily operations, conversations with coworkers and interactions with children?

Session progression:

  • Set Up for Success: Take a closer look at the daily operations of your program. Are you setting kids up for behavioral success? Review best practices and key examples, then dig deeper into your own program. You will be led through a series of questions that will help you to analyze the structure and practices of your program and target areas where you want to improve.
  • Breaking Down Behavior: All behavior has a reason behind it.  Practice looking beyond the behavior and seeing the message it is trying to convey.  Understanding why behaviors are occurring is the first step to best addressing them.  Practice breaking down the meaning behind behaviors, brainstorming possible responses and assessing their effectiveness.
  • Know Your Script: You play an important role in the way that kids behave.  Prepare yourself for situations by “knowing your script”.  Hear examples of effective scripts and collaborate with your peers to write a script that will work for you. What will you say to prevent a situation from escalating? How can you support a child who struggles to calm down? When is it best to stay silent?
  • Considering Consequences: Consequences, positive and negative, are a reality of choices that we make. They are the primary way that children learn the effects of their actions. Review various types of consequences and consider how they can be best used to support positive behavior and teach the children in your program.

The four sessions can be attended as a series or separately based on your interest in the specific session topic.

Questions No One Wants To Ask… Or Answer
Presenters: Esther Staum Katz and Aryn Barer, NJY Camps
Room: IMAX Classroom

We all believe in inclusion, but we have to ask ourselves the tough questions that come along with creating an inclusive environment.  The goal of this discussion is to promote the awareness of intentionality in our actions. Examples of questions we will broach, as times allows:

  • Are there times when inclusion is not beneficial for a person who has special needs?
  • What do we say when we cannot meet someone’s needs?
  • Do we encourage inclusion at times when it is not what the child wants?  If so, why?  And, when do we let kids make that decision?
  • To what lengths do we go to modify our programs, given the possible increase in costs (i.e. for staffing).  Who is responsible for covering those costs?

Make sure to bring your candidness to discuss these topics!  We are interested in hearing your thoughts.

Including Parents: We Don’t Always Make It Easy
Presenter: Kerrie Powell, TEAM DECLAN
Room: Zanzibar A

Declan Powell was diagnosed with severe autism at the age of two. His story is shared by many families with a child that lost their ability to communicate and connect with those around them–including those they love the most. The Powell family set out to find an inclusive classroom for Declan and his typically developing brother. This was a difficult search, but they found a school and built a program that has been successful for six years!

Declan is now a fifth grader and participates in academic, athletic and social activities with his peers.

Participants will:

  • Hear techniques used by the family to interact successfully with school administrators, teachers, parents and friends
  • Hear tips for communicating with parents
  • Have the opportunity to ask a parent the questions you have always wanted to ask

This session will include a presentation and question time. At the conclusion of the session, participants will have an opportunity to look through the eyes of a parent and consider new ways to effectively communicate. Participants will be able share questions and have open dialogue without fear of offending a parent.

Models for Including Teen Campers
Presenter: Karen Friedman, Hockomock Area YMCA
Room: Zanzibar B

This session will discuss how to include campers who have aged out of traditional day camp settings and/or how to include teen campers within traditional teen camps.  Examples will include different camp models that have worked in an inclusive setting at a YMCA and some of the challenges faced.  In addition, we will provide example on how many of these camps have been able to run with a break even budget.

The session will provide specific examples and models used but also encourage discussion on different models and ideas used at other camps.  We will also discuss “the tsunami” of teens with Autism and the upcoming “cliff” and what roles and opportunities community programs can provide to families as individuals begin the transition to 22.


Inclusion in Nature- Take it Outside
Presenter: Jolanda Campbell, Greenwell Foundation
Room: IMAX Classroom         

Many discussions of inclusion settle in around classroom or inside settings. It can be daunting to bring a program into inclusion that is based outdoors. The benefits of being outside are numerous and along with the challenges of making a program inclusive. Jolanda brings over 11 years of experience to this workshop on outdoors programs and inclusion. From summer camp, to kayaking, to horseback riding to nature programs; learn how challenges have been overcome and inclusive programs operate outside!

  • Start out on the right foot-hiring practices, program set up, anticipating challenges and our response to them.
  • Moving around- do not assume participants in wheelchairs are the only issue you will encounter when moving from point A to point B.
  • Orientation- let’s talk about potential issues long before we encounter them. What tools can we give staff to build success? How can we let staff know we are there for them?
  • In the mix- how can we support staff during program time? How can we address parent and caregiver concerns in real time?
  • Learn from the past- surveys, calls to parents and caregivers. Meetings with staff after our program time is over. These are crucial to ongoing inclusion success. What can we do better? This question is so important to success in inclusion. Compliment and appreciate staff who have been especially creative and enthusiastic.
  • Share what you have done well! Bring your success to this NIP conference, to social media and to local publishers. We will spread the word about how inclusion can be a success even outdoors.


Promoting Social Success and Social Inclusion in a Camp Setting
Presenters: Danna Bille & Mark Spolidoro, Camp Shriver, Center for Social Development and Education
Room: Zanzibar A

This session will provide participants a review of social inclusion in a camp setting, best practices, and peer discussion on what social success and social inclusion strategies have worked best for camps in the past. Special attention will be paid to what is Social Inclusion, Promoting Social Success, and strategies counselors and staff can use throughout the daily camp schedule. This session will be a combination of presentation, peer sharing and hands on activities. At the conclusion of the session, participants should walk away feeling confident in their knowledge of what social inclusion in camp looks like, have new ideas and strategies to use and try with counselors and staff this upcoming camp season.

Conflict Resolution – Skills to Build On
Presenter: Karyn L Martin, PhD, Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts
Room: Zanzibar B

Every day we navigate hundreds of conflicts – and for kids, making friends, keeping friends, deciding how to act and when and how to stand up for yourself produces conflicts.

In this workshop we’ll practice some real-life everyday conflicts – positive and negative – where kids can build their conflict resolution skills; we’ll try out some grown-up conflict resolution pointers that help prevent conflict escalation, and leave with some insights and skills that will add to your repertoire of conflict resolution skill builders.

The Inadvertent Change Agent: How One Person Turned Small Steps into Big Social Impact (and How You Can, Too)
Presenter: Dawn Oates, Play Brigade
Room: Emerald Isle

Have you ever wished something would change for the better, then left it at that? Too often, people’s vision of change never gets a chance because they lack the motivation, confidence or experience to try, or they believe it’s “someone else’s job.”

Dawn believed these things until a catastrophic life event inspired her to take inclusion beyond her family’s personal mission into a community-wide movement.

Dawn will share her experience looking beyond her own backyard and becoming a change agent in three distinct areas. She will help identify ways you can put your own experience, passion, and motivation to work in small ways to make a positive difference beyond your immediate community, and create lasting impact.


A Look at Fundraising
Presenters: Joan Gurski, Channel 3 Kids Camp; Barbara Gildea, Center for Social Development and Education
Room: IMAX Classroom

This session will provide participants a review of fundraising basics, best practices, and peer discussion on what fundraising strategies have worked best for camps in the past. Special attention will be paid to fundraising strategies that work best in a small (one-person) development shop.

Participants will:

  • Examine the different types of private, public and corporate foundations that support inclusion initiatives
  • Review fundraising basics such as grant writing, annual appeals and event funding
  • Hear new ideas and strategies from their peers
  • Discuss time management and best opportunities for the small shop fundraiser

This session will be a combination of presentation and peer sharing. At the conclusion of the session, participants should walk away feeling confident in their knowledge of fundraising basics and with at least three new ideas to implement in their fundraising strategies this year.

Making Connections: Fostering Friendships for Youth With and Without Disabilities
Presenters: Kathryn King, MSRA and Anna Luther, MSW, Kids Included Together
Room: Zanzibar A

The best thing that a child can gain from your program is a quality friendship.  Many times, children with disabilities struggle with initiating and maintaining friendships.  In this workshop, participants will learn how to help all youth develop their friendship skills by practicing activities to remove the barriers to friendships and applying a social mapping tool to examine friendship interactions.

Inclusion: It’s in our DNA
Presenter: Jolanda Campbell, Greenwell Foundation
Room: Zanzibar B

For those starting out or for long time programs implementing inclusion this workshop will demonstrate how inclusion can be added to every component of our organization. We began with one training but soon added simple inclusion pieces to every facet of our non-profit. Now it is not just something we do…it is a philosophy we live by. The idea of inclusion even took hold in other programs after beginning in camp. Presenter will share handouts, and more to help explain the process.

Incorporating Inclusive Strategies in the Classroom: To the Playroom and Beyond
Presenter: Sajdah Ali-Wilson, S.A. Education Consulting, LLC
Room: Emerald Isle

As educators, mentors, administrators and parents; we understand the value of learning academic and life skills that will benefit us as we grow and develop into adults. Yet, how does this work for students with disabilities? This workshop will introduce essential strategies and methods commonly used in the inclusive classroom that supports the natural progression of students with special needs in the broader society. At the end of the workshop, the participants will learn developmental strategies and how to incorporate them within their specific setting.


Spread the Word: Marketing Tips and Tricks
Presenters: Tonya Gillham, National Inclusion Project; Robin Simonton, Historic Oakwood Cemetery
Room: IMAX Classroom

You’re inclusive! You should tell the world! Robin and Tonya will go through some tricks and tips they use here in Raleigh to get attention from media and community members, locally and nationally. This will include specific tips about traditional media as well as social media.

Beyond Training – Creating an Inclusive Camp Culture that Utilizes Support Strategies and Tools
Presenter: Lisa Drennan & Emmy Casagrande, South Shore YMCA
Room: Zanzibar A

This session will provide participants a review of the multifaceted steps to ensure your camp (or other social recreational setting) provides the most effective strategies used to create an inclusive environment.    These best practices such as consistent use of a visual schedule, daily review of expectation charts and self-regulation techniques are proven to be effective in creating successful experiences for ALL children.  Special attention will be paid to organizational commitment, staff training, implementation, and camp-wide “buy in”.

This session will offer a combination of presentation, peer sharing, demonstrations and hands on activities.  At the conclusion of the session, participants should walk away with a comprehensive toolkit with step by step directions to immediately implement into their program.    In addition, participants of all backgrounds and/or positions will feel confident, armed with concrete and simple information to present to leadership staff and decision makers.

Turning Mistakes into Opportunities – Our Journey to Include All Girls
Presenter: Karyn L Martin, PhD, Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts
Room: Zanzibar B

Since 2008, Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts has been a leader in the Include All Girls Initiative, welcoming and including girls and volunteers with disabilities to our 32,000 Girl Scouts. But it wasn’t all smooth sailing – as we expanded our knowledge and experience, mistakes and missteps sometimes happened. In this session, I’ll share some of our mistakes, and how each became an opportunity to grow our inclusion capacity, to gain advocates in the place of adversaries, and to ultimately Include All Girls.

Advocacy 101—How to be Heard at Your State Capitol
Presenter: Joan Gurski, Channel 3 Kids Camp
Room: Emerald Isle

How does a bill become a law? If that bill will have an impact-good or bad-on your organization and the people you serve, how can you make your voice heard? This introductory session will provide basics on:

  • How bills become laws—and how we can influence those decisions
  • How and when to communicate with your legislators and their staff
  • The right-and the wrong-way to get your point made
  • How to engage your families to submit testimony or participate in person
  • How to partner with similar organizations that share your goals

Several states continue to struggle with budget deficits that impact services. This can have a significant impact on families of those with intellectual/developmental disabilities. Learn how one person can make a difference!