November 23, 2016

RTC:Rural thankful for stakeholder engagement at annual APRIL Conference

four APRIL conference participants talk, with RTC Rural table in background

APRIL 2016 Conference, Reno, NV

Each year, RTC:Rural staff are honored to attend the Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living’s (APRIL) annual conference.  As long-standing partners with APRIL, we at RTC:Rural learn what matters most to people with disabilities living in rural America. We extend much gratitude to APRIL members for sharing their expertise and wisdom within Independent Living service delivery, as well as their real-life experiences of living in rural communities. The exchange of information and knowledge at this year’s APRIL conference, held October 21-24, 2016 in Reno, NV, was rich!

APRIL logoAfter landing in Reno, NV, we met with eleven of our partners from eight Centers for Independent Living across the nation for a day-long meeting to applaud our Healthy Community Living (HCL) project’s milestones and lay out the goals and objectives for year two of the five year NIDILRR development grant.

Updates on RTC:Rural Research: RTC:Rural Center Co-Director, Craig Ravesloot, and Program Directors Lillie Greiman and Andrew Myers, provided an update on our research projects, and engaged attendees for questions and input. Click the links below to view their presentation slides:

Healthy Community Living Project: With the help of our partners, we exchanged thoughts and ideas with consumers about the HCL project.  We spread the word about sharing photos, videos, and stories of the project’s theme “Real People. Real Places.” By participating in our community outreach and engagement, consumers are helping to build an online multi-media curriculum that Centers for Independent Living can use with consumers to support full community participation.

Resources for Rural CILs: The buzz around online service delivery continued into the next day with the RTC:Rural-sponsored pre-conference, “LEAD Online.” Again, working with our partners, we organized speakers for four sessions to provide online resources and tools for connecting with, engaging, and delivering services to CIL consumers.  Through peer-sharing and identifying ways of building online support within the CIL network, attendees left with new ideas to take back into their communities, and RTC:Rural came away with new knowledge and opportunities to continue our partnership with CILs.

Conference participants visit RTC Rural table

Conference participants visit RTC Rural table at APRIL 2016 conference in Reno, NV

Engaging with Stakeholders: Throughout the rest of the APRIL conference, RTC:Rural staff engaged with APRIL members on multiple fronts, including visits at our vendor table, sharing resources and information, and interviewing consumers for their comments on NIDILRR’s 2018-2023 long range plan. Click the following links to view videos of the consumer stakeholder comments on the NIDILRR long range plan:

Supporting Youth Voices: During the APRIL Youth Conference, our partners from Summit ILC, in Missoula, MT piloted some of our youth advocacy toolkit items. We continue to work with Summit on adapting and finalizing these materials for dissemination and use within the CIL network. In addition, we provided technical assistance to APRIL to capture youth advocate video testimonials which will be used to help recruit for their Youth Advocacy Committee.

In closing, coming home to Montana from this year’s APRIL conference left us feeling very thankful for our partners, stakeholders, and our capacity to engage with others all working to support independent living and community participation of people with disabilities living in rural America.  We look forward to another year of collaboration, and meeting again, in-person, at the 2017 Annual APRIL Conference in Spokane, WA.