Newsletter Archive

Newsletter Issue 2: 1/14/08


Happy New Year!

The New Year is often about new beginnings and change. SpecialQuest is all about facilitating change in programs and communities to warmly embrace young children with disabilities and their families. Families are important change agents! In this newsletter we are highlighting families. Be sure to:



You can share your story about family leadership online or contact Aracelly Valverde by calling 1-888-472-1672 (toll free) or by emailing


I hope to hear your voice soon! —Susan Stewart



Family Voices – Where Are They Now?


Families are the cornerstone of SpecialQuest.  Their voices remind us of what our work is all about.  SpecialQuest family members have shown strong leadership in advocating for their own children, supporting other families, serving on boards and committees to influence policy and practices, to name a few. Now that the Quest has continued in new and different ways, we want to learn more from family members about their experiences during and after SpecialQuest; how their leadership journey has been nurtured; and how they are having an impact on the world beyond Early Head Start/Migrant and Seasonal Head Start.


Aracelly Valverde, SpecialQuest staff and mother of an adult with disabilities, will collect the family members’ stories and share them with the broader SpecialQuest community so that we can all have the benefit of their experience, wisdom, and ideas. She will try to contact each of the family members who attended SpecialQuest any time between 1998 and 2007.  If you are a SpecialQuest family member and would like to share your story with Aracelly, please feel free to contact her toll free at 1-888-472-1672 or by email at



Spotlight: Kathleen Hubbell – "They can make a way!"

Kathleen Hubbel

One of the first family members that Aracelly Valverde contacted was Bella, Kathleen Hubbell's mother. Bella is enthused about Kathleen's leadership for her family, other families who have children with disabilities, her community, and the Navajo Nation. She attributed Kathleen's leadership to her experience at SpecialQuest, but Kathleen's leadership clearly began when her daughter Anusha was born with hydrocephalus and a severe cleft palate and lip. Kathleen was determined to get the surgeries her daughter needed to repair the cleft lip and palate, and she wouldn't settle for a surgeon who would leave "a big scar, like a centipede" on Anusha's face.“They don't just hand it to you. You have to go look for it.”


Kathleen credits Hozhogo Jinooseel, Growing in Beauty, the Navajo Nation's early intervention program, with starting her on the path of advocating for her daughter. Along the way there have been others who have encouraged her—adults with special needs similar to her daughter's needs and parents of children who had cleft palates and hydrocephalus. In addition to these “family-to-family” supports, she was nurtured by professionals who gave her information, connected her with resources, taught her how to write letters to address her family’s needs or gaps in the system, and provided her with leadership opportunities.


SpecialQuest gave her the opportunity to meet people beyond the Navajo reservation. She stated that being able to talk to other families about their children in a place where they felt safe to share gave her strength and confidence.Kathleen is spurred on by the notion that “if we fail one child, we fail all children.”


The combination of Kathleen's persistence, passion, and courage with the recognition and encouragement of her leadership skills by others has resulted in Kathleen serving as the president of the Head Start Policy Council, a member of the elementary school's Parent Teacher Organization, and on the steering committee of Dine for Our Children. She recently has been asked to apply to participate in the Advisory Council for the federal Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation.


Read more about Kathleen's journey as a leader for her family and for other families who have children with disabilities in the Gallup Independent (search archive dates: July 28, 2007 and July 30, 2007).


Learn about Dine for Our Children.



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