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The Purposeful Life: Family Training series is a community outreach project focused on increasing the capacity of self-advocates and family members to live a more purposeful life. It is a collaborative project between the CDD and other local entities including Down Syndrome Association of Brazos Valley (DSABV), Families of Autistic Children Engaged Together for Support (FACETS), Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) Vocational Rehabilitation, College Station ISD, Bryan ISD, the Brazos Center for Independent Living (BVCIL), and Fungineering.

Trainings are provided free of charge for family members and self-advocates ages 11 and up on every first Thursday of the month throughout the school year. Childcare is available for ages 2+ and dinner is provided for all participants. In addition, a sibling workshop was added for brothers and sisters of those with disabilities.  Professionals, family members, and parents have worked together to develop the trainings and materials as well as to deliver the monthly trainings. All on a volunteer basis. In our 2016-2017 fiscal year, a total of 187 parents plus their family members, and individuals with disabilities attended the “Purposeful Life” Family training series. This year, project staff translated training materials, RSVPs, surveys, and community resource documents into Spanish to better meet the needs of the diverse families in the Brazos Valley.

Families, self-advocates, and professionals are asked to provide feedback following each training.  The “Purposeful Life” Leadership team uses this data to inform the following trainings and to make changes in content and/or delivery to best meet the needs of the community. Feedback from the community has been positive and the trainings have been well-received. Purposeful Life participants have commented:

•       “The speaker’s specific practical examples were extremely helpful. The focus and control throughout was also great.”

•       “I always need a handout because I am visual more than auditory, thank you!”

•       “It [the training] was very helpful. I was able to learn some good strategies to practice. I got to see others affected by the same disability.”

•       “Now, I can help others that ask me questions and I have information to share with them.”

•       “I learned to communicate further with my special ed teacher in regards to my reactions to my child’s behavior affects my children’s future behavior.”

•       “I appreciated the openness of the meeting and the personal stories of the facilitator.”

•       “Childcare and meal is the reason I am able to attend and I am so grateful for the opportunity.”


New Additions to the Purposeful Life Family Training Series!

Sibling Workshop:

The Center on Disability and Development Diversity Leadership Fellow, Melina Cavazos has developed a Sibling Training  workshop that was implemented the first Purposeful Life training in Fall of 2017.  The intent is to provide support for young children and teens with brothers or sisters with special needs. Lessons are all derived from the Sibshops: Workshops for Siblings of Children with Special Needs book.  The workshop is provided by one of our Center’s Diversity Fellows, who is pursuing a doctorate in School Psychology and is sibling herself. Her younger brother has Autism and Melina commented that her family is her brother’s biggest advocate. She is dedicated to learning best practices in supporting youth with disabilities.


Reaching out into the Community: How we are working to increase the number of Hispanic families who attend the Purposeful Life Family Training series.

It is no secret that Aimee Day, Purposeful Life Project Coordinator, has gone above and beyond to include those facing cultural and linguistic barriers into her community outreach and education efforts. She was selected to represent the Center on Disability and Development at the Undoing Racism Workshop in Austin, TX. This summer, Aimee attended the Disparities Leadership Academy in New Mexico as one of four Developmental Disability Partners in Texas. Aimee stated that she is “always trying to find ways to reach as many families from diverse populations as possible. We’ve used email, flyers, and an ad in a local Hispanic newspaper. After attending the Diversity Leadership Academy, I learned that the radio is a major source of news for Hispanic families. I contacted Dr. Jose Caraballo-Rivera, professor at Texas A&M and part-time Radio Personality at Radio Alegria, to see if he could share information about our trainings on his show. He was extremely excited to find out about Purposeful Life and asked me to join him for a live 10 minute conversation about the program and how families can participate. Soon after we finished, I was getting calls from families that wanted to participate!”


Addition of “Guidebook” as an Assistive Technology Tool

Guidebook is an application on your phone that allows for users to quickly organize trainings, locations, materials, and additional information related to an event. The hope is that Purposeful Life attendees who download Guidebook will have a “one stop shop” to find out more information regarding the Family Training, the guest speakers, the leadership panel, any handouts or PowerPoint’s, location of the training, and who to contact if they have transportation or translation needs. There is also a version of this information in Spanish on Guidebook for Purposeful Life attendees. Benefits for attendees for using Guidebook include a link to register for the trainings on their phone, session handouts available on their phone or computer, adding events to their own personal calendar with just a click of the button, sharing their contact information (should they chose to do so) with other family members and/or professionals to increase their social support circles, access to community events/flyers uploaded by CDD staff, and compatibility with Android and iPhones and so not having access to a computer will not be a barrier to most families.


First Guest Speaker for the Fall 2017 trainings: Dr. Rob Heffer

Dr. Rob Heffer, Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychology at Texas A&M University, spoke to families about the importance of communication, talking to children “along the way” throughout their lives, ways to speak to children with and without disabilities about disability, and goals for on-going information exchange with children. The link to Dr. Heffer’s presentation can be found here  Additional links provided included:


The fall and spring “semesters” of 2017 and 2018, topics includes:

Date  Session Topic
September 7, 2017

 Everyone has differences, mine just has a name – Talking to your child about his/her disability

Hablando con su hijo sobre su discapacidad

October 5, 2017

Why punishing your child may not be working –

Learn to change behavior with positive behavior supports

November 2, 2017

 You can get results (but they might not be for the best!)

Collaboration With Schools

December 7, 2017

 Your unexpected journey

The recurring grief of parenting a child with a disability.

February 1, 2018

 I’m not fine

Supporting the emotional needs of children with disabilities.

March 1, 2018  Phones and computers…how safe are your children?
April 5, 2018

 “No means No”

Teaching your child to accept your “no”

May 3, 2018

 We’re all in this family

Supporting siblings



Introduction of Committee Members

We hope the community can continue to come together to provide access to knowledge, other families and self- advocates, and resources to help support area families and self- advocates to live their lives to the fullest.

For more information, please CONTACT: Aimee Day at