Freedom Resource Center usually doesn’t promote GoFundMe activities, but this project in Moorhead, MN (part of Freedom Resource Center’s service area) includes adding accessible ADA equipment for a playground that presently does not have any accessible equipment.

Accessible playground








The Ellen Hopkins Parent Teacher Advisory Council (PTAC) is a collaboration of parents, teachers, and staff who are committed to supporting the education and development of our students. Some examples of how we strive to accomplish this include coordinating fun and educational opportunities and purchasing materials to support education and enhance the school environment. One of the ways we would like to improve our school’s environment for our students is by expanding the small playground at Ellen Hopkins and adding ADA accessible equipment. After years of fundraising, we are approaching 91% of our goal, but we will need help from our community in order to purchase the equipment in time for a scheduled construction project at the school grounds this summer.

The current Ellen Hopkins playground system was installed in 2004 and has a commercial life of 10-15 years if maintained properly. The system consists of a composite play system with walkways and 7 events in a 40×60 space with a capacity for 65-70 children. There are 8 swings and two panels on the system for a total of 12 children. The estimated capacity of the total unit is 77-82 children. Currently, Ellen Hopkins has more than 840 students enrolled in our K-5 school. At one time, there are more than 125 children on the equipment during recess. Faculty have commented that there is simply not enough equipment for children to safely play, which leads to negative behaviors such as rough housing and bullying. A more serious concern is that the Ellen Hopkins playground system is not accessible for the many students at Ellen Hopkins who have disabilities.

The Ellen Hopkins PTAC is seeking community partners to help facilitate a Playground Expansion Project (PEP) for the good of all of the students, faculty, aides, and community members. The proposed project will cost $61,000 and include adding additional swings (including two handicap accessible swings with rubber solid surfacing and access points for wheelchairs and aides), 3 accessible panel plays (i.e. xylophone), an accessible 3 deck play system, and a climbing net.

Thus far, we have $25,000 from PTAC and $30,000 from Moorhead Public Schools committed for PEP. Our remaining balance is $6,000. While there are two public parks (South Park and Lamb Park)
within the Ellen Hopkins community, there are none that have ADA accessible equipment. By adding ADA equipment to the Ellen Hopkins playground, we will be able to provide more opportunity for stimulating play to our children within the school and the community who have disabilities.

We hope that you will consider supporting our Playground Expansion Project (PEP) by making a monetary donation advancing the school environment for the children at Ellen Hopkins Elementary School.


By Tawnya Taylor








The F-M area is finally starting to come out of its winter deep freeze and is starting to announce all the summer line up’s that will be happening at the different venues. Personally, I’m pretty excited about the announcements of some of the concerts, like Pat Benatar and Andy Grammer with the American Authors. I’m even signed up with the Jade Presents so that I can get the codes to get the passwords to buy tickets on presale when the time comes. Since I have sadly, forgotten and missed out on some concerts I’ve wanted to go to before. Though here is the hitch, it’s something I’ve lived with my entire life but never seems to get any better, getting accessible seats to see these concerts.

With these two concerts as soon as I heard about them I wanted to go so I would finally be able to put the presale ticket option to use. Unfortunately, it wasn’t that easy. The pre-sale days the only option to buy is online except when I went I couldn’t find the accessible seats on their seating chart and was getting annoyed because I know they have them because I’ve been at the venue before. I ended up having to call and let them know that I need two accessible seats. Then I have to get specific and tell them I want the front seats because in the Bluestem Amphitheater, the accessible seats are at the back and front of the venue. As anyone knows who is in a wheelchair and those who go to concerts, people stand the entire time and if you are sitting in the back the only thing you will be seeing is the butt of the person in front of you. Sorry I didn’t spend $75 to see that all night.

The problem I ran into both times is that they were unwilling to sell me the tickets for the accessible seats on pre-sale. What I was told is that they don’t want those who are able-bodied to buy the tickets. Great I am all for that because I agree those who don’t use a wheelchair or adaptive equipment should not be in those seats. I, however, need those seats because I do have a wheelchair and/or have my crutches with me. So why couldn’t I buy them? All their other tickets were on sale. I even had the pre-sale code that hundreds of other people got in their email. I wasn’t asking for special treatment.

Jade Presents was discriminating. You cannot have all your other seats available to the open public for purchase and decide that the accessible seats can’t be sold until a later time. Even their reasoning for not selling me the tickets because they didn’t want able bodied people buying them is flawed. What happens the next day when pre-sales is over? Do they have a system that prevents able-bodied people from buying those tickets? No, they don’t. I even informed them how this was an illegal practice. That they could not deny me tickets to the concerts at the presale time because I need accessible tickets. I even asked the person on the phone if it was a corporate policy or a company policy, but imagine that, I never got an answer.

It took me some standing up to the person on the phone but guess what, I have my tickets to both concerts. Though it does make me wonder, how many people would have just been like “oh ok, I’ll call back tomorrow.” Is it because they don’t know their rights? Or is it because they don’t have the self- confidence to stand up for themselves. Either way Jade Presents has not heard the last from me if this continues to be their practice.

ADA Requirements (

Venues are required to sell tickets for accessible seats in the same manner and under the same conditions as all other ticket sales.

Tickets for accessible seats must be sold:

  • during the same hours;
  • through the same methods of purchase (by telephone, on site, through a website, or through third-party vendors); and
  • during the same stages of sales (pre-sales, promotions, general sales, wait lists, or lotteries) as non-accessible seats.

When a venue provides tickets to a third-party ticket vendor, including Internet-based vendors, the venue must include comparable tickets for accessible seats. Once third-party ticket vendors acquire tickets for accessible seats, they are obligated to sell them in accordance with the Department’s ADA requirements. If the venue fails to provide any tickets for accessible seats, the third-party vendor is encouraged, but not required, to contact the venue to obtain tickets for accessible seats. Similarly, if the venue provides unsold tickets to a “discount” or “half price” ticket outlet, it must also provide tickets for accessible seats, if such seats are available.

Disclosure:  Tawnya Taylor is also the Peer Mentor Specialist with Freedom Resource Center.  Freedom Resource Center is a disability rights and resource center serving 10 counties in Southeastern ND and North Central Minnesota.

Every mighty king was once a crying baby!
Every great tree was once a tiny seed!
Every tall building was once a paper!
And so I dream my dream!
(Eunice Akoth, Age 12.  2015 Women in the World Summit)

Wishing you peace and wellbeing as you discover and dream your dream.

PS: Remember to hold the one’s you love just a little closer and tighter this week (without expectations)

12 year old Eunice Akoth

12 year old Eunice Akoth










A recent study found that 69 percent of adults experiencing psychological distress would hide mental health problems from co-workers and classmates, and 38 percent would even hide their problems from their friends and family. Significantly, 21 percent said that they would delay getting treatment out of fear that others would find out. By raising awareness, we can increase the percentage of people who are willing to seek the help they need.

Mental health stigma can be divided into two distinct types: social stigma is characterized by prejudicial attitudes and discriminating behavior directed towards individuals with mental health problems as a result of the psychiatric label they have been given. In contrast, perceived stigma or self-stigma is the internalizing by the mental health sufferer of their perceptions of discrimination, and perceived stigma can significantly affect feelings of shame and lead to poorer treatment outcomes.

May is National Mental Health Awareness Month! It gives us all the opportunity to combat the negative attitudes, prejudice, and discrimination that prevent people from accessing treatment and supports and isolate people from their communities.

Fighting Stigma

Use respectful language

Put the person before the illness – use phrases such as “a person with schizophrenia”. Never use terms like crazy, lunatic, psycho, retarded and correct people who do so.

Provide professional development opportunities for staff, regarding diversity, mental health issues, and fostering an inclusive work environment.

Include mental illness in discussions about acceptance of diversity, just as you would discuss cultural diversity, religious beliefs, physical disability, and sexual orientation.

Become an advocate

Create awareness by writing letters to newspapers and lawmakers. Speak out and challenge stereotypes portrayed in the media. Take it upon yourself to inform your community about the truth of mental illness.

Teach others about mental illness

Spread understanding that these are illnesses like any other.

For more information on mental health and stigma:



We lift ourselves by our thought. We climb upon our vision of ourselves. If you want to enlarge your life, you must first enlarge your thought of it and of yourself. Hold the ideal of yourself as you long to be, always everywhere. (Orison Swett Marden)

Wishing you peace and wellbeing as you lift yourself up.

PS: Remember to hold the one’s you love just a little closer and tighter this week (without expectations).


By Jean Searle, with assistance from Tyra Virden

Jean Searle and Tyra Virden

Jean Searle and Tyra Virden











All of my life, I have been told what I can and cannot do. My name is Jean Searle, and I am a person with a disability. My brothers, sisters and I have moved around since we were children because my parents could not take care of me, and there were no community supports. I spent part of my childhood and my young adult years in an institution. All I ever wanted was to live a happy and independent life, which included working and being a contributing member of society.

The institution where I was at had a sheltered workshop and a school on the property, and no one was allowed to leave. I went to school for a half a day and the other half was in a workshop making very little money, like a penny, for everything that I did. (Sheltered workshops are facilities that employ people with disabilities apart from others. Workers with disabilities assemble or produce everyday products for businesses and for the commonwealth. These sheltered workshops are allowed to pay sub-minimum wage under a law from the 1930s. About 13,000 Pennsylvanians with disabilities are paid below the minimum wage.)

With the help of an advocate, I left the institution. I was told I had to go straight to a sheltered workshop. I had to be there all day even if there was no work to do. Many times, all I did was sit and talk to friends or just keep quiet. I did not want to be in the sheltered workshop, but I had no other choice.

In all, I spent 17 years in sheltered workshops. I was unhappy and wanted to leave for a real job, but I was not allowed to. I was not given any other choice.

In 1991, the opportunity finally came for me to be a part of the workforce.  I was able to find support in the form of a job coach who helped me to find employment and learn the job. I began working at a fast food restaurant, which was close to home. I stayed at this job for seven years until an injury did not allow me to work there anymore. I was happy to be a part of a team and earn a paycheck like everyone else.

Since my time at the fast food restaurant, I held several different jobs, some good and some not so good. I was happy to be able to make my own decisions and work at any job that I was able to work at, just like everyone else, and earn a living wage.

Last year, I celebrated my 20th anniversary at my current place of employment, theDisability Rights Network of Pennsylvania. I was recently promoted to a new position in the organization. I feel happy, independent and empowered. I still need help occasionally, but I feel like I can do anything that I put my mind to.

This July is the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. I know that with the right supports and accommodations, all people with disabilities can feel the same way that I do. More funding for vocational rehabilitation services, as proposed by the governor and supported by many lawmakers, would help us to have those opportunities to work in the community.

People with disabilities want to work and earn wages like everyone else. We want what everyone else in life wants, to be happy, to make our own decisions, and to live an inclusive and productive life.

Jean Searle is a policy advocate for the Disability Rights Network of Pennsylvania. She can be reached at 215-238-8070, ext. 219, or Tyra Virden is a community work incentives coordinator for the Disability Rights Network of Pennsylvania. She can be reached at 215-238-8070, ext. 216, or


Life takes on meaning when you become motivated, set goals and charge after them in an unstoppable manner. (Les Brown)

It’s not enough to WANT to do better, you need to TAKE ACTION on your wants and your dreams.

Wishing you peace and wellbeing as you discover your WANTS and TAKE ACTION.

PS: Remember to hold the one’s you love just a little closer and tighter this week (without expectations).

Freedom Friday: Autism in love

‘Autism In Love’ Shows How Complex Romance Really Is

Maddie Crum (








A young man named Lenny lays in bed playing video games. He hasn’t been feeling as happy as usual lately, so his mom comes upstairs to check on him. The source of his woes, he explains, is that he wants a girlfriend, and he doesn’t have one. He considers making an online dating profile. On it, he’d list his interests: cars and sports — basketball in particular.

“Would you put that Comic-Con stuff on there?” his mom asks.

“No,” he asserts. “I just wouldn’t.”

According to Lenny’s mom, he tries hard to fit in — to seem “normal” — and in doing so “takes it too far.” “He just needs to be himself,” Lenny’s mom sighs.

Lenny, like one percent of the world population, has autism spectrum disorder. Like others with his condition, it’s difficult for him to process and respond to social cues, but he feels strongly about his family and loved ones. Though the commonly discussed perception of autism is that it inhibits verbal displays of affection, director Matt Fuller aims to show that the disorder is not at odds with the act of love — a feeling characterized by empathy and understanding. His first feature-length film,“Autism in Love,” premiered last week at the Tribeca Film Festival.

Fuller spoke with The Huffington Post about his ambitions for making the documentary. “I’m always looking for opportunities to tell stories about characters who want something it seems as though they can’t have,” he said. “I don’t know the science. I don’t know about the disorder’s origin. I do know about the challenges many adults with autism face. I know that they want to love and be loved. And, I know they are capable of having meaningful, romantic relationships.”

Dr. Paul Wang, Head of Medical Research at Autism Speaks, supports Fuller’s message. “Although we think about autism, and people with autism, in terms of a social impairment, the deficit isn’t in desire,” he says. “The deficit is in the skills needed to understand other people’s social and communicative behavior, and in expressing oneself through language and social behaviors.”

Another couple in Fuller’s film — Lindsey and Dave — combat these challenges daily, and have found success in maintaining an eight-year relationship. In a scene that seems to represent the quotidian conversations that make up their home life, Lindsey explains to her boyfriend that she wears necklaces in order to divert attention from more vulnerable parts of herself. Dave marvels, “I did not know that about you.” Then, he abruptly changes the conversation to his interests: “The weather’s on.” She tenses momentarily — was he even listening to her? — but carries on with her day, mostly amused by his fixation with watching The Weather Channel.

“People with autism tend to be very direct in their communication. More than other people, they may say what is on their mind, and say it in a very straightforward and blunt manner,” Wang says, adding that conversational hurdles aren’t unique to those on the spectrum. “Dating and romance require all sorts of complex and subtle social skills. Ask any person who has been turned down for a date, or anybody who can’t seem to keep a relationship going long-term.”

To navigate these social traverses, Lindsey and Dave compare their relationship to more concrete phenomenon. This approach especially appeals to Dave, who’s a scientist. He relates his feelings for Lindsey to the electromagnetic spectrum: visibly intense at first, and subtler, but stronger, as time goes on. He uses a formula that factors in appearance, personality, and kindness to determine an optimal love connection. In the below video, he explains how he makes sense of love by thinking of it as a force: not tangible, but strongly affecting.

“In general, people with autism do often use language in a more concrete way than others,” Wang notes. “People who are seeking and maintaining a romantic relationship exchange non-verbal cues all the time; they choose their language very carefully and they have to understand what the other person is looking for and trying to convey. For many people with autism, all of these tasks are hurdles.”

But, as Fuller’s touching film demonstrates, there’s ample hope for those on the spectrum to build a steady, loving relationship. As Wang puts it, “the most important message is that people with autism both love, and want to be loved.”

Towards the end of the film, Lenny’s perked up. While taking a quick break from a new job he enjoys, he lets the cameraman, and the viewer, know that he’s ready to head back inside and get back to work. These newfound responsibilities have granted him the confidence to feel comfortable in his own skin — a promising step towards interpersonal fulfillment.

Watch a clip from “Autism in Love” below.


Apr 28, 2015

By: Bradford Arick

A 97-year-old WWII vet who is legally blind and almost entirely deaf was basically kicked to the curb by the North Dakota Veterans Home and they won’t say why.

97 year old







A 97-year-old WWII Veteran who is almost completely deaf and legally blind was kicked out of a care facility where he’d been living. According to the North Dakota Veterans Home, Henry Satlak was verbally abusive and was repeatedly told to quit that behavior, or he’d have to leave. Henry’s son, Van, contacted our Whistleblower Team to look into this situation, the practices of the Veteran’s Home and who is ultimately in charge of the facility. Valley News Team’s Bradford Arick has been investigating this for weeks now.

Peaceful, quiet farmland encircles Leisure Living in Hartford, SD, just outside Sioux Falls. It’s where 97-year-old Henry Satlak now sleeps. He was born and raised there, then joined the Army, serving in Northern Africa and Italy.

“And was injured from what he says and eventually was discharged from the Army in 1945,” said Van Satlak.

Van is Henry’s son, the oldest of five kids.

“Being he’s 97 years old, he has both vision problems and hearing problems. He has macular degeneration,” explained Van.

“When you’re blind, you can’t hear half the *expletive* out there,” laughed Henry. “Don’t put that on tv!” he chuckled.

Before living in South Dakota, Henry lived here, at the North Dakota Veterans Home in Lisbon. While there, a feud was born. Henry was wrongfully accused of tracking in mud from a nearby construction site. Henry then reported another resident for smoking while on Oxygen.

“Then my dad was called a ‘snitch’ for reporting this incident. And so my dad and this gentleman haven’t gotten along for a couple years,” Van said.

It reached a head nearly a year ago. According to the Clinical Notes Report, Henry began cursing at residents and staff members. The Report tells a tale of a depressed, ornery old man with few outlets for his attention.

“At that point they also sent out a warning letter saying his behavior needed to change,” Van stated.

That was early October, and the letter reads in part “There have been numerous incidents in which you have been verbally abusive and threatened physical abuse. You often shake your cane, give offensive hand gestures and swear at others… Your behaviors are unacceptable and need to stop.”

Van was able to get Henry transferred to a different part of the Home under the conditions his dad meet with a Clinical Psychologist and VA Neuropsychologist.

“And that doctor said that at age 97 they don’t use a lot of filter in what they’re saying so that’s nothing unusual there,” Van said.

Remember that warning letter where the Veterans Home said Henry had “threatened physical abuse”? The Neuropsychologist’s opinion…

“That he was not physically dangerous. The North Dakota Veterans Home claims that he was endangering the health and safety of the other residents because of name calling,” explained Van.

And what about the Clinical Psychologist that was supposed to visit Henry?

“She came to the North Dakota Veterans Home and she actually did not meet with him. She actually just reviewed notes on his behavior and said that he needed more structure and stimulation including watching tv and looking at pictures,” Van said incredulously.

Watching tv and looking at pictures: two activities not possible for Henry Satlak. It’s not the first time an official failed to meet with him. Van alleges Mark Johnson, the man whose signature was on the warning and discharge letters, never met or talked to his father. In an email, Van typed “I found it deplorable that in over 1000 working days since my dad initially became a resident… that he had never met my dad. I question if Mark Johnson is really interested in all of the residents?”

Henry slipped up again in December.

“Then by doing that he got a written discharge notice,” Van pointed out.

Henry had 30 days to go. So why was Henry, a 97-year-old, legally blind, almost completely deaf, WWII Vet essentially kicked to the curb? Reporter Bradford Arick tried calling Mark Johnson, the Vets Home Administrator nearly a half dozen times with no response. So he went down to the facility to confront Mark about the situation.

“You don’t need to tape me so…” Johnson said to the camera.

Arick was barely inside the front door before Johnson greeted him. His answer to why Henry was kicked out?

“Its its federal and state regulations and thats all its about. You know I have to look at all veterans and make sure they’re all being served properly,” Mark Johnson explained.

What regulations? Arick could not find anything other than one section of the Veterans Home Handbook that says “When a resident endangers another resident or staff member through physical or repetitive verbal abuse they may be subject to discharge.” Henry Satlak, again according to the Clinical Notes Report, did not specifically target just one resident.

“He’s 97 years old. I mean how much abuse could he be causing someone?” Reporter Bradford Arick asked.

“I really I’m not going to comment. The biggest thing is that we are going to talk about it at the next meeting,” Johnson replied.

That meeting is tentatively scheduled for July. Mark Johnson was pretty much done not answering questions by this point.

“If you want to talk to our Chairman of the Board he’s said he’d be glad to talk to you,” said Johnson.

Arick called the Chairman of the Governing Board, Gary Skarphol. He again asked how Henry Satlak, who faithfully served his country, could be kicked out. Skarphol replied they received the information, were taking it under advisement but would otherwise not comment. The officials in charge of a facility caring for elderly veterans, funded by your tax dollars would not answer the question.

“I’ve heard that that Governing Board and Mark Johnson are like this,” Van said crossing his fingers together.

While Van remains frustrated by the whole ordeal, his father was doing well. When Reporter Bradford Arick visited him, he was vocal, funny and seemed content.

“But I don’t have a stove in here or nothing like. They’re afraid I’ll be selling hotdogs!” Henry laughed.

Van’s wife, Theresa, has strong opinions about this too, asking how do you change someone of that age when things slip out of their mouth?

“Is it a dischargeable offense? My opinion was maybe the Veterans Home didn’t take enough steps to try to redirect him, to intervene, to maybe have a joint meeting between the two residents, a conflict resolution? It didn’t seem like they tried very many steps,” said Theresa.

As for the tentatively scheduled meeting in July, Valley News Team’s Bradford Arick plans on attending, again bringing this situation with the Satlak family to the Governing Board’s attention. Many other people have been calling Valley News Live reporting issues with the North Dakota Veterans Home and on Tuesday, one woman will tell her story about having to pay over $10,000 a month for her husband to stay there.


More Allegations Against North Dakota Veterans Home Surface

More allegations have surface against the North Dakota Veterans Home following our story on a 97 year old vet kicked out of a home in Lisbon. The phone calls, emails and social media messages have been flooding in to our newsroom.

Marlene Schultz’s husband, Verne, got sick a few years ago, needing more care than she could provide at home. Verne was a Veteran so he checked into the North Dakota Veterans Home in Lisbon in 2013.

“I guess what bothered me a lot was the fact that they told me how good he was doing,” Schultz said.

She says at a meeting, she and staff members discussed Verne’s progress. The staff’s consensus: Verne was doing well. A few days later, Marlene Schultz got a bill for Verne’s care that was $3000 more than normal.

“So then I called the administrator, he knew nothing of it,” Schultz claimed.

She was furious and she wanted to know why, if her husband was doing so well, that his price of care had jumped so much. She called Mark Johnson, the North Dakota Veterans Home Administrator, along with other officials there and she says they did not help her. Schultz also said she reached out to VA officials in Fargo and that did not help either.

So again, Reporter Bradford Arick made a round of calls, starting with state legislators for the Lisbon area. Representative Jerry Kelsh answered that he wasn’t aware of any complaints and said lawmakers are not in charge of the facility, they simply appropriate the funding. Mark Johnson did not return calls and neither did Gary Skarphol, Chairman of the Governing Board.

“I could never recommend anybody to go down there,” Schultz said.

Her husband is now in a facility in Jamestown and she said it was like a night and day difference.

“It was just like nobody cares. Nobody cares down there. Just come and do our thing and let the patient worry about themselves I guess,” she said.

Allegations from many others against the home include staff dispensing psychotropic drugs without the proper medical credentials, a hands off approach to care and a lack of special skills to deal with mental health issues.

Please continue reaching out to us if you’ve experience problems with the North Dakota Veterans Home. Remember, Valley News Team’s Bradford Arick will be attending the next meeting of the Governing Board in July and he’s continuing to look into what goes on at the North Dakota Veterans Home.

If you want things to be different, perhaps the answer is to become different yourself.  (Norman Vincent Peale. 1898-1993)

Wishing you peace and wellbeing as you discover what you want to be different.

PS: Remember to hold the one’s you love just a little closer and tighter this week.

If you want things to be different

Skip to toolbar