Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Zumba-ing for Inspirations!

Zumba-ing for Inspirations!

By Randy Pinsky

A hardy group of Zumba-ers braved Montreal’s recent snowstorm to participate in ‘ZUMBA for a Cause’; an Inspirations fundraiser. In partnership with Concordia University’s PERFORM Centre, participants enjoyed upbeat rhythms and challenging dance routines led by experienced instructor, Tanja.

Why Zumba, you may ask? Well, Team Inspirations is gearing up for the upcoming Scotia Bank Charity Challenge! With team members walking or running the various route options, the fundraiser put some extra pep in their preparation.

With the generous support of the PERFORM Center, we raised funds for special needs programming as well as Inspirations’ ambitious next projects. Paramount in our mind is a refurbished, updated, and highly substantiated Resource guide to
accompany our Database of
Special Needs Resources.

Our intention is to create a step-by-step guide for equipping parents on their journey from diagnosis to transition, and everything in between. 

In assisting others to navigate what can often be a complex system, parents are empowered and better prepared for the next step in their families’ lives. Such a resource effectively responds to a pronounced need, and will serve to alleviate much of the anxiety and ‘unknowns’ many grapple with.

There's still time to join Team Inspirations! Contact Randy Pinsky at for information.

If you would like to make a donation, click here!

Thanks to Eleni Giannakis for designing our event flyers!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

What’s next?
Transition planning for young adults

By Randy Pinsky

For parents of children with special needs, the question of ‘what’s next’ is constantly on their mind, but never as paramount as when their child ‘ages out’ of the school system.

What options are available for parents? And how can they best prepare themselves and their young adults so that the transition is as seamless and beneficial as possible?

Manulife Securities and Inspirations Newspaper joined forces to co-host Why and How to Begin Transition Planning at the English Montreal School Board on March 1, 2017. Attendees had the opportunity to mingle with exhibitors representing Ometz Supported Employment Services, the Gold Center, Big Blue Hug, and Team Inspirations for the upcoming Scotia Bank Charity Challenge!

The event featured speakers representing various aspects of the transition planning spectrum. Following a welcome by Inspirations’ Wendy Singer and Manulife’s Marla Vineberg, Nathan Leibowitz, senior investment advisor at Manulife Securities, described how financial planning is critical for long-term security and care. One main way is through the federally instated Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP).

Nathan Leibowitz, Lenore Vosberg, Darrah Virgo at the EMSB on March 1.

By applying to be curators, guardians can manage their young adult’s (over the age of 18) financial affairs and benefit from government matching savings plans, as well as tax credits and deductions on specialized expenses. With the proper financial planning, Leibowitz emphasized, parents can have the “peace of mind” knowing their child’s long-term needs will be covered.

Linda Mastroianni speaks at the EMSB on March 1.
President and founder of Speaking Autism Linda Mastroianni shared how her personal experience inspired her to assist others navigate what can be a daunting system. She emphasized the need to build a ‘transition team’ with the various actors integral to the young adult’s life. This collaboration is critical for evaluating options and strategizing for long and short term goals, adapting and revising as necessary.  Most importantly, however, is for the individual to be at the center of the planning, sharing their own visions for the future.

Mastroianni was followed by Lenore Vosberg, founder and director of the Centre for the Arts in Human Development. A creative arts therapy, educational and research center for adults with developmental disabilities at Concordia University, it recently celebrated its 20the anniversary with ‘A Night at the Oscar’. Vosberg noted the dramatic changes many have witnessed in student behavior, interpersonal relations, and most importantly, self-confidence over the years.

The event culminated with a personal testimony by Darrah Virgo, mother of a 28-year-old son with autism. She related how changes develop upon reaching eighteen years of age, be it specialized services or access to grants, necessitating parents to apply for curatorship. Although she noted more resources are needed, she has been grateful for the respite care and Special Olympics programs that are so integral to her son’s sense of purpose.

The audience left feeling empowered and better equipped for this eventual step in transition planning. It is through being aware of the available options that one can best navigate the system, and assist young adults to choose the most meaningful path for their future.

Thank you to Marla Vineberg, Linda Mahler, all of our speakers and exhibitors, and to all that attended!

Join us on Friday, March 17 as we raise funds for Team Inspirations, Scotia Bank Charity Challenge! If you can't make it but would like to donate to Inspirations, we welcome your contribution. You can make a secure online donation right here:!SolicitationID)&LangPref=en-CA&EID=207482