Welcome to the Champion’s new format! APD’s e-newsletter is now easily viewed on your smartphone or tablet, in addition to your laptop or desktop computer. We hope you like the new look!

April Activities

By Barbara Palmer
It has been an exciting and passion-filled Legislative Session. The House and Senate will need to return to Tallahassee before July 1 to agree on a final budget. We will provide you with details once it has been approved. The month of April was exceptionally busy for me and the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD).

Melanie Etters helps a family at the APD exhibit table.

Children's Day Brightens the Capitol

It was all about the little ones–and really, Florida’s future–when children, advocates, state agencies, and service providers converged on the Capitol for Florida Children’s Day.

Jeff Saulich and Chris Call at the APD Booth.

Florida's Senior Day Shines

Older Floridians came from near and far to participate in Florida Senior Day at the Capitol, sponsored by the Department of Elder Affairs.

Law enforcement officers carry the torch into the Capitol Courtyard.

A Special Run

The annual Law Enforcement Torch Run brought lots of lights and sirens to the Capitol Courtyard as dozens of police motorcycles escorted the huge group of runners to the Capitol.

APD Communications Director Melanie Etters visits Ray Ford of The Able Trust.

Sportsability Is Where the Fun Is!

SportsAbility is all about enjoying the great outdoors using whatever abilities you have. It’s the main focus of the Florida Disabled Outdoors Association (FDOA), which sponsors SportsAbility events in different parts of the state each year.

APD Chief of Staff Karen Hagan and Director Barbara Palmer, in back row, pose for a group photo with the agency’s daughters and sons.

APD Welcomes Daughters and Sons

Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day is an enjoyable event on many levels. It’s a chance for young people to visit where their mom or dad works, see what work environments are like, and think about their future careers.

APD Chief of Staff Karen Hagan and Communications Dir. Melanie Etters hold two of APD's four awards.

PR Awards Presented to APD

The Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) won four awards during the Capital Chapter of the Florida Public Relations Association’s Image Awards on April 16 in Tallahassee.

ADA Logo

ADA 25th Anniversary Celebration

You are invited to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) on July 24 in Tallahassee.


Tiffine Dennard

From Intern to Employee

Tiffine Dennard is an employee of the University of Miami Mailman Center for Child Development. She began her job last year in March. Prior to being offered a permanent position, Dennard spent 12 weeks learning various job skills as part of a paid internship sponsored by the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) at the Mailman Center.


Charlene Childers

Living with Spina Bifida

I am 41 years old and I’m dealing with my spina bifida every day. I work full-time at Tyndall Federal Credit Union in Panama City. I have been with Tyndall for 20 years!

Around the State

Sunland resident Ruby P., left, proudly displays her willow charcoal rubbing with a Wells Fargo employee.

Sunland to Host Art Event

APD’s Sunland Center in Marianna will host its first annual Art in the Park exhibit on Saturday, May 2, beginning at 10 a.m. Central time at Sunland’s Environmental Park.

Mildretta Williams of Daytona Beach and a mannequin wear purple in observance of World Lupus Day. She is dressing mannequins to break into the fashion business.  Photo courtesy of the Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Daytona Beach Woman Creates Own Mentoring Opportunity

After researching opportunities to learn about fashion design, and finding none at local colleges and schools, Mildretta Williams took matters into her own hands. She decided the best way to learn about fashion was to try it firsthand.

April, Joan, Beverly, Fay, Diamonique, and Dominic at 
the Color Vibe 5K.

Team APD on the Run!

“Team APD” from the Fort Myers Field Office of the Suncoast Region participated in the Color Vibe 5K charity run/walk event for the Children’s Advocacy Center of Southwest Florida, Inc. on Saturday, April 4.

Special Olympics Florida Healthy Community Logo

Health Fair Coming to Miami May 9

A free community health fair for individuals of all ages with intellectual or developmental disabilities will be held on Saturday, May 9, in the Leisure Access Center at A.D. “Doug” Barnes Park, 3401 SW 72nd Avenue in Miami.

Attendees at the Transition Fair get info at the APD table.

Miami-Dade Transition Fair a Success

On Wednesday afternoon, April 8, my colleague Michael Cardello and I made our way to A.D. Barnes Park, just west of Coral Gables, to represent APD and the Southern Region at the first Transition Fair hosted by Miami-Dade County Parks Disability Services.

Participants get ready to tackle the Fun Day obstacle course.

Fun Day Lives Up to its Name

On March 7, a cloudy Saturday morning, Southern Region Manager Evelyn Alvarez and I debated if we should embark on our scheduled trip from Miami to Key Largo. We had planned to attend the 6th Annual Special Needs Fun Day as part of our ADA 25th anniversary commemoration, but the morning was quite dreary.

From left, Patty Houghland welcomes attorney Kristen Marks to a meeting of the Area 1 Family Care Council on March 16 in Pensacola.

Area 1 FCC Learns About Special Needs Trusts

Kristen Marks, owner and attorney with My Pink Lawyer, was the guest speaker at the Area 1 Family Care Council (FCC) meeting in Pensacola on March 16. She shared information on trusts and guardian advocates.

APD Director Barbara Palmer, center, leads employees of the State Office and Northwest Region Office on April 27 as they plant Pinwheels for Prevention to raise awareness about child abuse.

Pinwheels for Prevention!

April was Child Abuse Prevention month, when the Ounce of Prevention Fund sponsors the annual Pinwheels for Prevention campaign in Florida. APD has zero tolerance for the abuse of Florida’s most vulnerable, so it naturally supports this effort to raise public awareness about this very troubling issue.

17th Annual Family Café

You are invited to the 17th Annual Family Café, June 5 through 7, at the Caribe Royale located at 2101 World Center Drive in Orlando.


Champion Staff
Melanie Mowry Etters - Editor
Lindsey Boyington - Writer
Christine Call - Writer
Jeff Saulich - Writer
Kimberly Tharpe - Masthead Design
John Milton - Webmaster