Community Calendars


Great Start recognizes the importance of community involvement and the value of opportunities for families to learn and grow together. We have created these community calendars as a way to share timely community events with you. If you know of any events please take time to add them to our community calendar or forward the information to Please encourage the agencies and organizations that you partner with to do so as well so we can have a comprehensive one stop shop for early childhood information in our communities.

Please note that there are guidelines for submissions and each will be reviewed before posting

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Paving the WaY to Self Determination Webinars (FREE!)

June 11 @ 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm

Paving the Way to Self Determination is a program developed to support children with developmental disabilities (ages birth – 12) and their families in raising expectations people have for them by introducing the concepts and tools they need to lead self-determined lives. This series provides virtual (online) educational opportunities for children with developmental disabilities and their families on topics that promote self-determination and independence, including history of the disability rights movement, disability pride and ally-ship, how to ask for an accommodation, supported decision-making and self-determination and how employment will impact social security benefits.  The program will also provide information and referral services to families on a statewide level and access to the Charting the Life Course program.

Below are the webinars being offered within the Paving the Way to Self Determination program at this time. All webinars are live and interactive; participation is available through an internet connection or a phone call, and accommodations are available.


The Power of Disability Language
For family/guardians
Language is more than just a form of communication. It shapes the way we think and shows how we view others. The language we use can enforce stereotypes or create inclusion and equality. In this presentation, we will talk about how you can use powerful disability language to model disability as human diversity and not something that is wrong, broken, or needs to be changed.
Presented by Miranda Grunwell of Disability Network Southwest Michigan on:
●   Tuesday, March 12, 2024 at 6:00 to 7:30 PM

Understanding Social Security Benefits
For family/guardians
Parents and guardians often feel lost when it comes to navigating Social Security disability benefits for their loved one with a disability. This training will provide an overview of the two Social Security disability benefit programs – Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) – which can provide financial support to individuals with disabilities. Presenters will touch on the benefit application process, important factors around turning age 18, the impact of parental income/assets, and the myth that people receiving benefits can’t hold employment to reach further financial security.
Presented by Pete Mulder & Allison Leece, Social Security Benefits Counselors of Disability Network Southwest Michigan on:
●   Tuesday, March 19, 2024 at 6:00 to 7:30 PM
●   Tuesday, June 11, 2024 at 12:00 to 1:30 PM

Learning About MiABLE Accounts
For family/guardians
The ABLE Act was signed into law in 2014 and changed the U.S. tax code to create tax-free savings accounts for eligible people with disabilities. Money can be added to these accounts without fear the account holder’s public assistance will be affected. Join R. Scott de Varona of the Michigan Treasury Department to learn about the features and uses of a MiABLE account for your loved one.
Presented by R. Scott de Varona, MBA, MiABLE Director of Michigan Treasury Dept. on:
●   Wednesday, March 27, 2024 at 12:00 to 1:30 PM

Early On – Don’t Worry, but Don’t Wait 
For family/guardians
Do you wonder if your child is on track developmentally? If so, we might be able to help. Early On is a free and federally funded program that is available to all Michigan families of children birth through 3 years of age. By the end of this session, you will have an understanding of what Early On is, who qualifies for Early On, and your role in Early On enrollment and participation.
Presented by Wendy Jenks and Kristen Dinsmore of Calhoun County ISD on:
●   Tuesday, April 9, 2024 at 9:30 to 10:30 AM

Building Resilience
For family/guardians
How do we help children with the skills they need to not just survive but thrive? Being a caretaker is hard work and at times overwhelming. A caring and resilient adult’s role is crucial in the formation of a resilient child. In this course, we will identify the skills that go into becoming a resilient adult, how to instill that resilience in our children, provide some scientific insights, and provide some practical tools and resources.
Presented by Anne Kooy of Disability Network Southwest Michigan on:
●   Wednesday, April 17, 2024 at 3:30 to 5:00 PM

The Importance of Sexuality Education for People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
For family/guardians
The lack of sexuality and relationship education for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities can lead to high rates of abuse, being charged with sex crimes, unplanned pregnancies, and sexually transmitted infections. Explore the importance of building sexual self-advocacy skills and how to support, educate, and empower individuals with I/DD to become sexual self-advocates.
Presented by Mary Shehan of The Michigan Developmental Disabilities Council on:
●   Tuesday, April 23, 2024 at 6:00 to 7:30 PM

The Importance of Sensory Play
For family/guardians
Join award-winning children’s author, educator, and disability advocate, Justine Green, Ed.D. in this fun-filled discussion on the benefits of sensory play. Learn about activities that help with fine motor, spatial awareness, and sensory skills. Dr. Green has designed her line of sensory play kits and written several books about young self-advocates – including a book about her childhood journey in self-advocacy!
Presented by Justine Green, Ed.D. of Completely Me on:
●   Thursday, April 25, 2024 at 6:00 to 6:45 PM

The Basics of Supported Decision Making
For family/guardians
Every adult has the right to make life decisions, to direct their life and to be treated with dignity, as an autonomous adult. All adults need and get advice and counsel when making different life decisions. Many options, other than guardianship, are available to provide counsel, guidance, and assistance with making decisions. Person Centered Planning and Self-Determination require that adults with disabilities are respected and honored to make life decisions with the support and counsel they need to remain as independent and autonomous as possible. This presentation will discuss tools, that can be used to support people in decision-making while retaining their rights.
Presented by Mary Shehan of The Michigan Developmental Disabilities Council on:
●   Tuesday, May 7, 2024 at 6:00 to 7:30 PM

Understanding Neurodiversity
For family/guardians
Neurodiversity is the diversity of human brains and minds. The neurodiversity movement is a human rights movement for people with brain differences. In this workshop, we will discuss how neurodiversity contributes to sensory, movement, and communication differences. We will examine how ableism impacts people with brain-based disabilities and how you can support your neurodivergent loved ones.
Presented by Max Hornick of Disability Network Southwest Michigan on:
●   Wednesday, May 8, 2024 at 9:30 to 11:00 AM

Section 504 – What Parents Need to Know
For family/guardians
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability – this includes students with an Individualized Education Program (IEP). For students with a disability who are not eligible for an IEP, a 504 plan provides equal access to the general education curriculum. This training will help you learn the difference between a 504 Plan and IEP, how to get a 504 Plan for your child, what supports and services are available, and what rights you and your child have.
Presented by Stephanie Nicholls of Michigan Alliance for Families on:
●   Monday, May 13, 2024 at 6:30 to 8:00 PM

IEP – A Closer Look
For family/guardians
This workshop will help you take a more in-depth look at the core areas of the IEP and prioritize your greatest concerns. You will learn how to address concerns through the IEP process and improve your ability to have productive conversations.
Presented by Stephanie Nicholls of Michigan Alliance for Families on:
●   Wednesday, May 15, 2024 at 12:00 to 1:30 PM

Instilling Disability Pride in Your Child
For family/guardians
Disability pride refers to a positive outlook that a child can develop over time about their own disability. Pride helps to develop self-esteem, self-worth, and an understanding of abilities. In this presentation, we will help you to empower your child to embrace their disability as part of their identity and see the gifts and community it brings with it.
Presented by Miranda Grunwell of Disability Network Southwest Michigan on:
●   Tuesday, June 4, 2024 at 9:30 to 11:00 AM

Positive Behavior Intervention Strategies
For family/guardians
When a child with a disability demonstrates behavior that impedes their learning or the learning of others, appropriate behavioral supports may be needed to ensure a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). Does your child have challenging behaviors at school? Come learn about services provided through the Individualized Education Program (IEP) to teach and support positive behaviors at school. Join us to learn:
– What a Functional Behavior Analysis (FBA) is and how to request one
– How an FBA leads to the development of a Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP)
– How to make sure the BIP utilizes Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS)
– What to do if the plan isn’t working
Presented by Stephanie Nicholls of Michigan Alliance for Families on:
●   Thursday, June 6, 2024 at 12:00 to 1:30 PM

Preparing Your Child for Employment (LONG Before Employment!)
For family/guardians
Many parents worry about the employment future of their child with a disability. This training, led by staff who spent years removing barriers to employment, will focus on important independent living and pre-employment skills that you can help your child start building today in preparation for a successful and fulfilling work life in the future!
Presented by Mary Fortney of Disability Network Southwest Michigan on:
●   Wednesday, June 19, 2024 at 3:30 to 5:00 PM





Michigan Alliance for Families


Contact Name
Mary Fortney
Phone Number
269-345-1516 x 201
Delta-Schoolcraft County Great Start