ABLE Act Update

The Senate floor substitute for Senate Bill 174 (the Missouri ABLE Act) was perfected yesterday, and passed out of the Senate today. The vote was 32-0. The Senate floor substitute includes language that makes sure that the bill follows the federal ABLE Act in important areas, while also making it similar in some respects to Missouri’s MOST 529 college savings plans. A recap of the key features of the ABLE program is included at the end of this email. The bill now moves to the House of Representatives. It will then be assigned to a committee and have a hearing in the House, if it passes out of committee in the House then it will go to the floor of the House for votes. If it passes out of the House without changes it would go to the Governor’s desk. If the House makes changes to the version of the bill that it passes a group of senators and representatives will agree on a conference committee substitute. Then, both houses have to pass the conference substitute, then the conference substitute goes to the Governor’s desk, and if the Governor does not veto it, it will become law.

If you would like to contact your senator to thank them for passing the Missouri Able Act (SB 174), click here to find their contact information.

DSAGSL has a NEW Intern – Heather!

I am St. Louis native currently finishing up my degree in Communications and Public Relations at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. I was drawn to the opportunity to intern at DSAGSL because of my Aunt Carolyn who had Down syndrome. It is the perfect place to learn and spread awareness at the same time.

In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my husband and our six nieces and nephews. I also love cuddling with my new puppy and working out. I am of course a Cardinals fan but an even bigger Blues fan.

DSAGSL has a NEW Intern – Alyssa!

I have lived in O’Fallon, MO my whole life. I am a student at Missouri State University, majoring in Recreation, Sport, and Park Administration, and will be graduating in May. As the Programs and Services Intern at the DSAGSL, I will be helping to plan and coordinate Bike Camp, the Healthy Start program, and the Employment Initiative. I’m excited to be a part of this organization and look forward to staying involved after my internship ends. I’ve always had a passion for working with individuals with developmental disabilities because I find it very rewarding to help others realize their full potential. I plan to combine this passion with my love of outdoor recreation by pursuing a career in adaptive recreation. This would include adapting, altering, or creating the equipment necessary for individuals with disabilities to engage in exciting outdoor activities.  I want to make a difference in the lives of people who are limited in opportunities due to circumstances beyond their control. As a recreation professional, I will encourage my clients to strive for greatness despite their obstacles. In my free time, I enjoy kayaking, hiking, skiing, and spending time with my friends and family.

DSAGSL Awards First Scholarship to Ethan Schroeder

DSAGSL is proud to announce the formation of a new scholarship program.  We are currently the only scholarship granting organization in the state of Missouri under Bryce’s Law, which is legislation passed to provide opportunities for assistance to students with developmental disabilities.

Thanks to the vision and generosity of our Board of Directors, DSAGSL has developed criteria for awarding scholarships.  We are also pleased to announce the recipient of our first-ever DSAGSL scholarship, Ethan Schroeder.  Ethan is a second-year student in the SUCCEED program at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.  SUCCEED is a post-secondary program for students with disabilities, and welcomes students from throughout our region.  Ethan is one of two students with Down syndrome in this program – both students with Down syndrome are expected to be among the first group of nine students who will complete the program this spring.  We are proud of Ethan’s hard work and determination, and we are happy to invest in his education and future!

A limited amount of scholarship funding remains available this fiscal year (through June 30) from DSAGSL.  Below is the scholarship criteria we have developed, and we encourage any interested applicants to visit DESE’s site for Bryce’s Law as well for additional info. You can download an application for a DSAGSL scholarship here.  Please direct any questions about this program to Jeremie Ballinger at 314.961.2504 or

Criteria for the Scholarship and Assistance Program:

A pool of funds are available annually through the Down Syndrome Association of Greater St. Louis.  Please note that all funds are available as they become available each fiscal year, and that each case is considered as it arrives in our office based on the remaining funds available.

Scholarships are available based on the criteria outlined in Bryce’s Law (Section 161.825 RSMo).  Full details can be obtained through the Missouri Department of Elementary & Secondary Education via phone, email or the DESE website.  DSAGSL has identified the following criteria in addition to Bryce’s Law standards:

DSAGSL Scholarship Determination Criteria

  • Scholarship recipients will have a diagnosed genetic / chromosomal condition
    • Including, but not limited to: Down syndrome, Fragile X Syndrome, Turner syndrome, Williams Syndrome, Angelman syndrome
  • Recipients, within their application packet, will present a documented need both financially and educationally
  • Scholarship recipients will reside within the Greater St. Louis area.  In addition to the defined metro area, Greater St. Louis includes cities that have a recognized DSAGSL Community Group.
  • Scholarships are available to applicants of any age, given they meet our additional criteria
  • Additional criteria may be determined by DSAGSL, its board and staff based on any combination of factors, such as the amount of scholarship funding available or the number of applications received.

Award Payment:

  • The scholarship funds awarded are to be used solely to pay for educational and job training expenses.
  • All scholarship awards will be paid directly to the institution or service provider.
  • Scholarship awards must be used in the 12-month period following the date of application.  Should an award winner seek the renewal of a scholarship, a new application must be submitted.  Previous receipt of a DSAGSL scholarship does not guarantee nor prohibit a person from receiving an additional scholarship.

Grand Marshal – by Isabel Trower

One of our members, Isabel Trower was recently the Grand Marshal for a Christmas parade. She was kind enough to share her experience with us.

“I was the Grand Marshal.  I was throwing candy and bracelets to the people.  The people were smiling and waving at me.  I was singing Frozen.  I was with my family, and I could see my friends. I am so happy people went to the parade and then I get to go to a restaurant.”

Holiday Traditions – by Lindsey, Abeo and Grace

What is the best part of the Holiday season to you? Does your family have traditions that you look forward to each year and hope to carry on with your own family? We thought it would be appropriate to the season to ask some of our self-advocate office volunteers to share how their families celebrate the Holiday Season.

1. How does your family celebrate the holidays?

Lindsey: I like to open gifts on Christmas Day with my family and celebrate on New Year’s Eve the best!

Abeo: Kwanzaa is my tradition. This year it starts December 26 and goes until January 1.

Grace: I love to stay home with my family. We wake up in the morning and open gifts from Santa and family. Then we eat dinner later.

2. What is your favorite holiday tradition?

Lindsey: We celebrate Christmas and the New Year. We go to a different person in my family’s house every year.

Abeo: We celebrate Kwanzaa. We sit together, light a candle and for seven days we pray and talk about our ancestors.

Grace: We celebrate Christmas. My family stays home, hangs out and does something together.

3. What do the holidays mean to you?

Lindsey: I love being with my family and enjoying company at different houses. Even during Christmas, I’m looking forward to Cardinals season, and hanging out with my dogs Bentley and Oscar.

Abeo: Kwanzaa helps us study our history. We learned that in Africa people dressed up, put bowls on their head to dance, carried their babies on their backs and loved to cook. African culture is different, and I like it.

Grace: Christmas is my favorite time of year.  To me it is a time to do something special like hangout with our families and friends.