Involve Conference

INVOLVE Conference
Fully embracing all intellectual abilities

Tuesday, February 11th, 2020 | 8:30 am to 4:00 pm

Northwestern College, Orange City IA
Get Directions |  View Campus Map

$60 | Full Day Conference | lunch included | Credit Available: 1 License Renewal credit $50 
$30 | Half Day Conference (noon - 4:00 pm) | lunch included 
$20 | Lunch and Learn Session (noon - 1:00 pm) 

The INVOLVE conference offers fresh insight into fully embracing individuals with different intellectual or developmental abilities in your community. How can you recognize their gifts and abilities, promote flourishing and foster their unique contributions? Learn how to create a pattern of inclusion in your community, classroom, ministry or direct care. Educators, school administrators, social workers, church leaders and anyone who works with differently-abled individuals will be inspired and equipped with practical application.

Hear from author and Professor of Practical Theology, Dr. Benjamin Conner as he shares his 20-year youth ministry career which included working with young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Register by February 10th.
Please contact online@ or 712-707-7388 with questions about the conference, late registration or if you would like to be a vendor for this event. 


Dr. Benjamin Conner - Involve Conference

Dr. Benjamin Conner, Ph.D.

Benjamin Conner, Ph.D., is Professor of Practical Theology, Director of the Center for Disability and Ministry, and creator and Director of the Graduate Certificate in Disability and Ministry at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, MI.  He worked in youth ministry for 20 years, several of those ministering to and with young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and currently serves on the Mission-Wide Board of Young Life Capernaum.  His writings include Practicing Witness: A Missional Vision of Christian Practices (Eerdmans, 2011), Amplifying Our Witness: Giving Voice to Adolescents with Developmental Disabilities (Eerdmans, 2012) the only book on youth ministry and disability, and Disabling Mission, Enabling Witness: Exploring Missiology Through the Lens of Disability

Studies (IVP Academic, 2018).  He is also an occasional horse-leader, side-walker, stall-mucker, and general support for his wife, Melissa, who runs Renew Therapeutic Riding Center. 



8:00 a.m. Full-day Check-in 
8:30 a.m. Welcome
8:45 a.m. Opening keynote |  Disabling Education: A First Step toward Universal Design in Learning 
Dr. Benjamin Connor
11:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. Virtual Autism-Reality Simulation |  Available during any breakout session time 
Northwestern College Theatre department 
10:10 - 11 a.m.  Morning breakout 1
Transitioning to Adulthood. Planning is Vital for Success! |
Pam Woelber
Choosing Reinforcement |
Miranda Smalley
11:05 a.m. - 11:55 a.m. Morning breakout 2
ACES Training 
| Trudy Weber and Jodi Sears
Working with People of ALL Abilities - Person First Language | Samantha Martin
Northwestern chapel message: Ways We Witness | Dr. Benjamin Conner
11:30 a.m. Half-day check-in
Noon Lunch + Learn (catered) -  Disabling Mission, Enabling Witness
Dr. Benjamin Connor
Noon - 3:00 p.m. Resource Fair available
1 - 1:50 p.m. Afternoon breakout 1 
Everyone Welcome! Really?? | Dan DeVries
Transition - It Starts at Diagnosis | Josh Cobbs
2 - 2:50 p.m. Afternoon breakout 2  
Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Toolbox | Dr. Benjamin Connor
3:00 - 3:45 p.m. Northwestern NEXT parent/student panel 
3:45 - 4:00 p.m. Closing 

Breakout Session Options

  Pam Woelber 
Parent Educator Connection Coordinator 
Transitioning to Adulthood. Planning is vital for success!
What is a waiver? What is SSI? Do I need to establish guardianship? this presentation will cover resources, assessments and information to answer these questions and others in the areas of living, learning and working after graduation.  

  Miranda Smalley 
Clinical Director 
The Pier Center for Autism 
Choosing Reinforcement
When looking at behavior management strategies, reinforcement is the single most useful tool that we can use but what is it? When should we use it? Is it the same concept as a reward or bribe? When looking at behavior management strategies, reinforcement is the single most useful tool that we can use. This presentation will cover what you need to know and give tips on how to implement reinforcement in your daily lives.  

  Jodi Sears and Trudy Weber
Hope Haven
ACES Training  
Have you ever had a student in your classroom that never sits still? Seems that the student is not paying attention? That no one can reach this student? ACES (Adverse Childhood Experiences) in education can give teachers the tools and training that could help teachers meet the students needs. This breakout session will briefly define ACES and inform educators on trauma and toxic stress. It will discuss helpful tips on what can be done in the classroom to assist students in managing behaviors that stem from adverse experiences and stress and help integrate resilience in the student's lives. Educators not only teach information on the A,B,C's and 1,2,3's but are role models to students on how to manage difficult life situations and interpersonal relationships. This breakout session will focus on resiliency and hope that will help the student thrive in and out of the classroom.  
  Samantha Martin
NEXT Program 
Northwestern College
Working with Poeple of ALL Abilities - Person First Language 
In this session we will discuss our perception of individuals with disabilities and how this affects how we interact with them. We will define person first language, why we use it, and what difference it makes in the lives of those around us.  
  Josh Cobbs
Rehabilitation Counselor
Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation
Transition - It Starts at Diagnosis 
Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services will discuss transition planning and services that can be utilized for differently-abled youth when accessing our services. Vocational Rehabilitation will also discuss inclusion strategies that we are utilizing with employers to aid in successful employment outcomes. 
  Dan DeVries 
Religious Services Coordinator
Hope Haven
"Everyone Welcome!!" Really??  
Like everyone else, people with intellectual or developmental disabilities want to express their spirituality and belong to a community. This workshop will give participants some tools and resources to help them and their faith communities to take the next faithful step towrds welcoming and including the gifts of people with disabilities. 
  Dr. Benjamin Conner 
Professor of Practical Theology
Western Theological Seminary
Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Toolbox 
Come to consider some simple ways to begin incorporating UDL in your context.

Workshop Partnership

This Conference is offered in partnership by Northwestern's Campus Ministry, NEXT Program, Education and Graduate & Adult Learning departments.

Learn more about Northwestern NEXT

What's next? For many 18- to 24-year olds, it's college or a college-like experience that serves as a transition to independent living, a job and adulthood. Through Northwestern NEXT, students with intellectual or developmental disabilities can participate in campus life and learning at Northwestern College. The two-year program offers students with disabilities the opportunity to:

  • Live in a college residence hall with a specially selected roommate/peer mentor
  • Participate in campus activities and social events with same-aged peers
  • Take customized classes in practical academics, health and wellness, independent living, and career readiness
  • Audit up to 6 credits per semester of pre-approved courses from the college catalog