Intelligent Lives Summary - Screening & Panel Discussion

3 May 2019 3:15 PM | Anne Zaslofsky (Administrator)

Hosted by Minnesota Dept. of Education:

Intelligent Lives Film Screening and Panel Discussion

Champions across Minnesota, involved in advancing opportunities for people with disabilities, engaged in a film screening and a panel discussion to continue to move us forward with providing increased options and supports for individuals and communities.

Through collective efforts across many agencies, we were fortunate to host a screening in Minnesota of Intelligent Lives, a documentary by award-winning filmmaker Dan Habib. Intelligent Lives stars three pioneering young American adults with intellectual disabilities who challenge perceptions of intelligence as they try to navigate high school, college and the workforce. Dan presented the documentary at South High School in Minneapolis on Tuesday evening, April 30th which had approximately 250 people in attendance.  The screening was free and open to the public. The attendees included:

  • ·         Educators
  • ·         students in k-12 systems
  • ·          Institutes of Higher Education and their students
  • ·         Parents
  • ·         Advocates
  • ·         Community members
  • ·         State Agencies (MDE, DHS, DEED)

There was a panel discussion following the film to highlight positive connections to efforts that are happening here in Minnesota to impact the lives of people with disabilities. The panel included:

·         Jeremiah Green is a Minneapolis Graduate of North High School (class of 2018). Jeremiah has spoken to many groups about his experiences as a black male with an EBD label in special education.

·         Dustin Anderson is 33, an Eagle Scout, and has two learning disabilities and ADHD. Dustin is a SAM (Self Advocacy MN) liaison and leadership representative, he is on the board of United Way of Sherburne County, an Olmstead Academy graduate, and a Partners in Policy Making graduate.

·         Bonnie Jean Smith is a parent who advocates for persons and families with different abilities to help them gain independence and become self-determined, integrated and included members of their communities, through collaboration

·         Nathan Barclay is a 24-year-old self-taught musician from St. Paul, Minnesota. Nathan has been playing piano since the age of five, and has learned how to play over 60 songs by ear, memorization, and practice.

·         Kevin Arriaza is 24 years old and lives in Northeast Minneapolis with his parents and his brother. Upon completion of the Project SEARCH program in June of 2016, Kevin was hired as a Hospital Service Technician 1 in HCMC’s Supply Chain Department.

There was a collaborative discussion held on the morning of Wednesday, May 1st to discuss the next steps to move Minnesota forward in improving the opportunities and systems for individuals living in our state, which was attended by 65 people. This panel discussion will be the catalyst for collaboration between many organizations throughout the state to advance education, employment and housing opportunities for people living with disabilities in Minnesota. This event was from 9:00AM – 11:30AM at the John B. Davis Education Center in Minneapolis. The panel included:

  • ·         Sean Sieleni is a 2018 High School Graduate. Sean’s parents helped him navigate the MN Growth Through Opportunity (GTO) police cadet program where he became the first graduate of the program after 16 weeks.
  • ·         Jade Smith began attending Bethel’s BUILD (Bethel University Integrated Learning and Development) program after high school graduation in 2016.
  • ·         Quinn Meyer is a licensed school psychologist in the state of Minnesota. Quinn works with students with varying needs who receive highly individualized programming that focuses on developing appropriate social, academic, functional, and academic skills.
  • ·          Jason Backes has been the Principal of Transition Plus for the past 3 years in MPS, serving students 18-21 yrs old.
  • ·         Dr. Mary Lindell has been a champion for improving inclusive outcomes for people with and without disabilities throughout her 30 year career.
  • ·         Alex Bartolic is the director of Disability Services at the MN Department of Human Services.
  • ·         Eric Kloos is the Assistant Director for the Division of Special Education at the Minnesota Department of Education.
  • ·         Barb Ziemke is the Co-director of PACER’s National Parent Center on Transition and Employment, an innovative project that puts families at the center as youth with disabilities navigate the path to education, work and life after high school.

The collaborative partners included for this project included:

  • ·         PACER CENTER
  • ·         Metro ECSU
  • ·         Minnesota Department of Education
  • ·         The University of Minnesota Institute of Community Integration
  • ·         Minneapolis Public Schools
  • ·         Bethel University
  • ·         The Arc of Minnesota
  • ·         Down Syndrome Association of Minnesota  
  • ·         Minnesota School Psychology Association

Information on the film Intelligent Lives  can be found at

Information on the Transition Films can be found at

© 2018 Minnesota School Psychologists Association

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