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Dare to Dream Student Leadership Conference Unique to Students with Disabilities

Over 700 Rhode Island students with special needs or disabilities, together with educators, Rhode Island Department of Health (HEALTH) staff, transition coordinators, Rhode Island youth serving agencies and organizations, subject experts, and motivational speakers, will attend the fourth annual inspirational Dare to Dream Conference, Tuesday, May 22nd, 8:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m., at the University of Rhode Island, Kingston Campus.

Michael Fine, MD, Director of Health, will open the conference and welcome attendees. "It is important to recognize the health and well-being of all Rhode Islanders functioning in their communities and realizing their dreams," said Dr. Fine.

For many students in attendance with disabilities, this may be the first time they hear and see people talking openly about what it means to be a person with a disability. Attendees learn about transition resources, accommodations, and services available to help them. Javier A. Sanchez, internationally recognized youth communications specialist, will incorporate comedy, story-telling, and spoken word poetry into his presentation that will speak about moving youth and adults from inspiration to action.

In May 2009, the Rhode Island Transition Council (HEALTH and RI Parent Information Network as the leads) sponsored a statewide initiative to organize the first youth with disabilities or special health care needs student leadership Dare to Dream conference modeled after the New Jersey initiative. Since that time the program has worked to develop valuable state resources, tool kits, educational materials, brainstorming sessions with key stakeholders, videos, high school clubs, and strategic workshops for educators, parents, youth group leaders, youth workers, and health care professionals. For more information and resources visit

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