Those that are making a difference!

We are SO excited to be able to start giving Shout-Outs again and believe Cow Tipping Press is the perfect organization to start with. We had the opportunity to have a Zoom interview with Bryan Boyce the founder and director of Cow Tipping Press, and left the interview feeling inspired by the opportunity and equity provided by this organization.

The focus of Cow Tipping Press is to provide opportunities for aspiring writers of all abilities to learn, create, and share their work. The foundation of this being the community; the writers, the teachers, apprentices, volunteers, interns, and readers. All with a goal of changing the narrative on disability.

Cow Tipping Press works in collaboration with many other organizations to provide writing classes for individuals with disabilities. Not only do these opportunities for learning recognize the untapped potential for new writers, but they also provide a platform for individuals to voice their perspective firsthand. A perspective that desperately needs to be expressed and heard.

The involvement in Cow Tipping Press does not end with taking writing classes. There are opportunities for Fellowship, Teaching, Volunteering and Interning. Additionally, there is opportunity for individuals that have taken classes at least twice to become an apprentice to the teacher. They assist with the instruction and coaching of students.

One of the many outcomes of participating in the writing classes is the opportunity to share work through book releases and readings. Cow Tipping Press works with local publishers to obtain a limited release of works that are then sold at readings open to the community. Many are also available on Amazon and local books stores in the Twin Cities area. Events are held all over the community and are an excellent platform for changing the narrative on disability.

When asked about how individuals can support Cow Tipping Press, Bryan offered many fantastic suggestions. There are opportunities to volunteer, host a book release, create a class, and financial donations. However the comment that stood out the most was Bryan’s suggestion that individuals simply encourage conversations around rethinking disability, a change in this mindset will contribute to the success of Cow Tipping Press and so many other organizations alike.

This focus on changing the narrative and providing opportunity for individuals of all abilities to express themselves through writing is exactly why we felt Cow Tipping Press deserves a Shout-Out!

Links to resources, upcoming events, and classes:

Marathon of Readings – live streamed on Facebook Friday, August 7th

Summer Arts Collective

How to Get Involved with Cow Tipping Press


Christina and John

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Our next Shout-Out goes to MSS Creative Arts Program. We reached out to Lauren Hughes, The Director of Arts Development, to learn more about the history of this program and what it had to offer for individuals of all abilities.

Tell us about the Creative Arts program at MSS? 

The Creative Arts program was founded in 1999. It started as a one-woman operation and has grown into a robust program with 8 dedicated art staff. We utilize adaptive tools and techniques to engage individuals of all ability levels. Some examples of this include creating custom tools for those with limited fine motor skills and using visual samples to offer choices to someone who may not use their voice to communicate. 

What is/was the inspiration for this program?

We were looking for meaningful ways to engage participants, expose them to new activities, encourage self-advocacy and self-expression.

What types of creative art are supported?

MSS has 6 locations, each with dedicated art facilities including ceramics, screen printing, performance space, music recording, textiles, and mixed media art studios. We support artists in drawing, painting, printmaking, mixed media, fiber arts, photography, woodworking, and more

If an artist would like to pursue a career in art or sell their personal artwork what opportunities does MSS provide to support this venture?

We support artists who are looking to engage in art for enjoyment as well as dedicated fine artists who are seeking employment in the arts. These artists develop portfolios, submit work to exhibitions locally and regionally, as well as exhibiting in art fairs. 

What opportunities are provided for artists to display/share their work?

In addition to exhibitions and art fairs, MSS artists also have the opportunity to show work at our partner art gallery in St. Paul, The Show Gallery Lowertown, as well as participate in the annual Co Lab exhibition. 

If someone is interested in taking part in this program either as an artist or a mentor what is the best point of contact?

Lauren Hughes, MSS’ Director of Arts Development, can connect those interested with their nearest center.

If someone is interested in donating to MSS what opportunities exist to do so?

Donations to MSS can be made online on our secure website at: or mail a check to us at 900 Ocean St., St. Paul MN 55106. We also welcome people interested in hosting a house party or peer-to-peer fundraising. Other ways to support MSS include selecting MSS as your charity at, hiring the people we serve at your business, or volunteering at MSS. Donations to MSS are tax-deductible as MSS is a 501c3 nonprofit.

MSS Creative Arts Program recognizes the need for every individual to be able to express their creativity. The resources, support, and opportunity they provide to make this happen is astounding and is exactly why we felt they deserved a Shout-Out!

Christina and John

For more information:

To learn more about our work or how you can support people with disabilities please contact the Director of Development:  Shannon Brumbaugh P: 651-793-4126 |

Follow MSS on Social Media:




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With great delight we are excited to share that our next Shout-Out comes from the school that Christina teaches at, Meadow Ridge Elementary. Ann, a colleague and a friend of Christina’s, is a 4th grade teacher there as well. Jet is Ann’s three-year old dog that joins her classroom every Friday.

When asking Ann where the inspiration for having Jet in her classroom came from, we were pleased to find out that it was from the urging of Karen, the principal of Meadow Ridge Elementary. Karen knew Ann was interested in adopting and suggested that she take the necessary classes so that her dog could join her at school. Thus began the process of not only finding the right dog to adopt but also sorting through the classes and required paperwork.

Jet proved to be that
“just right” dog

While Jet was busy completing obedience training, therapy classes, and passing multiple tests, including the Canine Good Citizen (CGC) test. Ann filled out all of the necessary paperwork required by the district. Two and a half years later Jet has been a staple in Ann’s classroom.

As you hear Ann speak about the benefits of having Jet in her classroom, the pride for not only Jet but her students as well is unmistakable.  She explains that he contributes to a sense of regulation and calm for students. For those that might struggle more with making friends or just day to day interactions, Jet provides respite. A former student of Ann’s expressed, “it was nice knowing that I had Jet to listen to my worries, then I could move on with learning.”

Jet is a sweet, friendly, unassuming dog that clearly loves being around people. He has made his mark at Meadow Ridge and is loved by many future, current, and former students. We are very thankful that Jet and Ann decided to take on this venture so that he could share his love and positive energy with so many students! For this reason we felt they deserved a Shout-Out!

Christina and John

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It may seem odd to have an “Area of Refuge” sign as the key picture for a Walt Disney World Shout-Out but read on and you will understand why.

My husband and I love to travel, and we especially love to travel with our children. Something we have made a priority for many years. The experience and perspective they have gained from our adventures is immeasurable. One popular destination that we have been fortunate enough to travel to multiple times is Walt Disney World in Orlando Florida.

Every time we have brought our children there we have never questioned that our boys with autism would struggle. Why? Because Walt Disney World is truly one of the most inclusive environments that we have ever traveled to. The services for guests with disabilities is beyond compare and it shows in the diversity of guests that we continually see when we have visited. It is clear that many families are aware of Walt Disney World’s stance on inclusion. There is a distinct vibe that everyone is welcome for exactly who they are. 

One of our most fond memories that reflects this is when one of our boys had just rode the popular Big Thunder Mountain Railroad ride at Magic Kingdom for the first time. He came off hooting and hollering, pumping his fist in the air, screaming that it was the best ride he had ever been on. In terms of typical social norms his level of energy was well beyond the average expression of excitement, which was evident from the “side eye” he was getting from other guests around us. Honestly, we learned a long time ago to ignore these looks, and we were just happy to see our son so full of joy! It was obvious the Disney staff were immune to the naysayers as well because as we exited the ride they each gave him a high five and clearly shared in his joy. To this day we will never forget the last staff member we passed. He cheered just as loudly right along with our son and said, “This is why I work here!” These types of memories are the ones that stick with us the most because for a brief moment we witnessed a complete stranger accept and embrace our son for exactly who he was. Experiences like these are unforgettable and provide a sense of refuge from a world that is often not as tolerant and accepting. 

Which brings me back to the “Area of Refuge” sign that we saw when we were visiting Walt Disney World. It struck us that Disney is a place that we have always felt provides refuge for our family and we are sure we are not alone in this feeling. To find a place where you can travel with your family and know that there is a genuine focus on ensuring that all individuals are provided with the opportunity to experience the Magic of Disney, is priceless.

It is evident that individuals of all abilities are welcome and accommodations will be provided accordingly. From physical access to the rides, to the rider switch program, to awareness of sensory needs there are resources to ensure that all individuals have the opportunity to experience Walt Disney World. If you were ever considering this destination for a vacation but were unsure of the accommodations available, you will not be disappointed. For this reason and from our personal experiences we felt that Walt Disney World deserves a Shout-Out!

Other helpful Links:

Services for Guests with Disabilities

Disability Access Service Card

Christina and John

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The power of female relationships is truly at the heart of include(her). With a focus on the value of friendship, Emily Garness (founder), shared this as the catalyst for establishing the organization. From her own experiences as a sister of four girls to the relationships she has developed as an adult, Emily is a “Huge believer in the power of female relationships and the strength in learning from other women.” This belief became even more evident for Emily as she reflected on her relationship with one of her best friends, Abby.

Emily and Abby

Emily met Abby at Special Olympics Minnesota (SOMN), where they both work. They were paired as unified partners in the SOMN SOfit Health Promotion Program. A partnership, that quickly blossomed into an amazing friendship. As Emily describes, “We started hanging out socially, I got to know her friends, and she got to know my friends. Our social circles grew, both of our lives changes for the better, it was a win/win.” The authenticity of this relationship cannot be missed. Their relationship is real and genuine, where each contributes to and gains from its value.  

Recognizing this value, Emily began to wonder why this isn’t more typical. Why should women of any ability lose out on friendships, experiences, having other females to lean on and learn from? Hence, the inception of include(her), an organization that provides opportunities for women of all abilities to meet other women, develop relationships, and just have a good time. Beginning with their first meet-up for pizza in St. Paul, MN, May of 2018, include(her) has been continuing to organize monthly events for women to connect. 

We had the opportunity to attend the most recent event, a joint venture with Thrive Mighty, at Surly Brewing in Minneapolis, MN. The night was filled with good food, good beer, and most importantly, good people. We left with that familiar sense of happiness that comes from spending an exciting night out meeting new people. The socialization was mutual and genuine, typical of any event we might attend.

Make no mistake, include(her) events are NEITHER a charity, NOR a volunteer opportunity. Instead they are genuine, they are real, they are simply a Girls’ Night Out, which is exactly why include(her) deserves a Shout-Out!

Christina and John

For more information:

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While on vacation in Las Vegas, Nevada we had the amazing opportunity to tour the Ralph and Betty Engelstad campus, of Opportunity Village. To say we were impressed would be an understatement. Amazed would be a more accurate description.

Opportunity Village was founded in 1954 by families that were looking for resources for their children with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Since, it has evolved into an internationally recognized not-for-profit organization that supports the continued development of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Funded primarily through fund raising events and many generous donors, there is no cost to individuals or their families.

Comprised of four campuses throughout Southern Nevada, Opportunity Village provides a positive, supportive, person-centered environment where individuals of all abilities can pursue their passions, gain life and job skills, and feel a part of a community. This connection to community is in our opinion one of the reasons Opportunity Village is so successful. Simply because, their community is not limited to Opportunity Village. Instead, there is a concerted focus on inclusive employment outside of the campuses within businesses throughout the Southern Nevada area. 

The sheer number of opportunities available for inclusive employment astounded us. Many hotels along the Las Vegas Strip as well as Nellis Air Force Base are just two examples of businesses and organizations that work in collaboration with Opportunity Village to ensure inclusive employment. Programs such as Job Discovery Program, Pathway to Work, Entry, and Fine & Performing Arts provide opportunity for individuals of all abilities to discover and pursue their interests in employment. 

“Many of the individuals at Opportunity Village collect a paycheck at the end of the week and are just as happy for the weekend as anyone else.”

Ashton (marketing Tour Guide)

In addition, Opportunity Village has business services such as Kitchen Creations, Button Brigade, Paper Pros, and Rags Reclamation. Businesses that provide employment opportunities on the campuses of Opportunity Village, yet they still maintain strong ties and connections to the Southern Nevada community. 

One such example is the Rags and Reclamation business, where used towels that would have previously been thrown away, are now donated from businesses within the Las Vegas area. Shelia (pictured below), an employee of Rags Reclamation, helps to repurpose the used towels into rags so that they can be sold back to the businesses. 

Fun Fact: Shelia shared with us that she also helped to make Elvis Presley’s silk scarfs while he  performed in Las Vegas. A request made by his manager Colonel Tom Parker, after touring Opportunity Village.

Throughout our entire tour, the strong sense of community within Opportunity Village and beyond could not be missed. There is a genuine feeling of acceptance and belonging. We felt so welcomed by both Ashton and Marty (marketing tour guides) as well as all of the ambassadors that took time out of their busy schedules to give us their card and welcome us. One in particular was Amanda (pictured below). Her smile was contagious and she has the charm to match. She told us that her dream is to become a talk show host just like Ellen. With the support of Opportunity Village Amanda has been able to hone her host skills by interviewing co-workers at Opportunity Village as well as local celebrities on her own talk show called Afternoons with Amanda.

Amanda hopes someday meet Ellen and be on her show. #EllenyoumustmeetAmanda.

Amanda and Shelia are just two of countless examples of individuals that are respected, encouraged, and supported while pursuing their passions and maintaining employment at Opportunity Village. This is why we feel Opportunity Village deserves a Shout-Out!

Check-out the Opportunity Village website for more information about tours, resources, programs, volunteering, employment, and donating.

Ralph & Betty Engelstad Campus
6050 S. Buffalo Dr. Las Vegas, NV 89113
Office: (702) 262-1550
Fax: (702) 362-6530

Christina and John

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Our next Shout-Out goes to, founded by Matthew Shifrin. When we heard about this website we couldn’t wait to learn more, as LEGO’s have always been a family favorite. has free detailed text instructions (to be used with a screen-reader) for many different Lego sets. We reached out to Matthew to find out all we could about this fantastic resource for individuals that are visually impaired.

I want every blind person to feel that the once impossible is now possible; that he or she can now build a miniature LEGO world.


What was your inspiration for creating

I was inspired to create the Lego For The Blind site after my friend, Lilya Finkel, brought me a set of instructions she brailled for a Middle-eastern Lego palace. She had created a special vocabulary, describing every type of piece and telling me what pieces I needed, where each part should be placed, and what the finished set would be like. After I built my first set using her instructions, I wanted to give back to blind children, and give them access to an essential part of childhood.

Most important question! What is your most favorite LEGO structure that you have built so far and why?

My favorite structure I’ve built so far is the Lego Fairground Mixer. I’d often been on amusement park rides, but didn’t know how they worked, since I’m blind. The Fairground Mixer gives a fantastic and realistic depiction of something blind kids have experienced but haven’t fully engaged with, i.e the county fair, and is also great from an engineering standpoint, since it teaches them about gearing and gear ratios, since the ride actually spins.

What LEGO structure have you found to be the most challenging and why?

The Tower Bridge was a very challenging but rewarding set. It has over 4000 pieces so concentration was paramount to assembling it. It took a few months, to finish but it’s my proudest Lego achievement.

While reading through some of your instructions, we loved how detailed yet concise they are. How long does it typically take to create instructions for one LEGO set?

It depends on the complexity of the set. 10-dollar sets take about an hour to adapt, but larger sets can take weeks, or sometimes months to make accessible.

We noticed your link to Are you working directly with the company now?

Yes, I’m working directly with Lego. I’m honored that they’ve taken up this project. They recently released text-based instructions for 4 of their sets, and will increase the number of accessible sets to 50 by the spring of 2020. You can learn more about their instructions at

We asked Matthew if he ever takes requests to make instructions for specific sets. He said that he does however it has been slow going the past couple of years. We are saddened to share that his friend Lilya passed away two years ago and now he has had to make the sets on his own. This is very difficult without continued sighted help. He is working on organizing a network of sighted volunteer instruction-writers. If you are interested in volunteering your sight and time for this wonderful cause you can contact Matthew at

We are thrilled to be giving Matthew and a Shout-Out! Thank you for making the world more accessible!

Christina and John

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We would like to give our very first Shout-Out to 21 Roots Farm. This idyllic hobby farm is nestled on 21 acre’s in Grant, MN, about 8 miles northwest of Stillwater. Upon arrival there was serenity that could not be missed. We could hear the clucking of the chickens, baa from the goats, and the rustle of the leaves from a gentle breeze. All sounds of nature that contributed to an overwhelming sense of calm. In a word, 21 Roots Farm was very “chill”. It was apparent that the farmers felt this vibe as well and took full advantage of all of the benefits that come with just relaxing in nature.

However make no mistake, this is also the beginning of a fully functioning farm. One where farmers also come to work. Caring for the animals, gardening, and harvesting honey are just a few of the many chores available. 21 Roots Farm is a community where farmers can work side-by-side, play, and enjoy the fruits of their labor all in an afternoon.

So who are the farmers?

The farmers are individuals of all abilities. Brittany Wiitala and Amy Peterson, the founders of 21 Roots Farm, have not only the skill-set but also the desire to ensure that the farm is inclusive and accessible. A place where individuals can gain skills and feel a sense purpose from their efforts. Everyone is welcome and supported at their ability level to ensure this opportunity exists.

When asked what the catalyst for this farm was, why Brittany and Amy decided to do this? Well… we will let you hear it directly from Amy.

Why not!

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves, why not! This mindset is exactly why we are giving a Shout-Out to 21 Roots Farm!

If you are looking for a place to visit where you will feel calm, happy, connected to nature, and accepted for exactly who you are, 21 Roots Farm is the place for you! We have provided a link to their website below where you will find more information about their programs, how to schedule a visit, donate, and even volunteer.

21 Roots Farm
10361 110th Street
Grant MN, 55082

Christina and John

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