In 2004, Jim E. Warne, M.S., San Diego State University Interwork Institute, initiated a series of talking circles with 20 participants. These talking circles raised awareness concerning the need for increased dialogue between persons living with disabilities and service providers. The American Indian Disability Summit is a grassroots effort funded entirely through donations. Since 2004, the committee has assembled an annual disability conference in metropolitan Phoenix to facilitate training, outreach and wherever possible, technical assistance for American Indians living with disabilities. The conference also provides an opportunity for American Indians with various disabilities in urban and rural areas to gain awareness of support services and empowerment by learning strategies to eliminate barriers to service delivery.
The 11th Annual American Indian Disability Summit will include presentations on topics such as Diabetes Wellness, Vocational Rehabilitation in Indian Country, Living Independently with a Disability and Behavioral Health. The Keynote Speaker for the Summit will be Celina Mahinalani Garza. Celina is known as a Mind/Body Wellness Advocate and Presenter who incorporates tradition, spirituality and interactive, education-based activities serving as motivational tools to success. She reflects on choices, lifestyle, diet, and the necessary choices to assist in promoting a happy, healthy life. Celina specializes in Motivational Inspiration, Empowerment, Communication, Team Building, Job Readiness Programs and Cultural Exchanges. She is a Certified Facilitator through Stanford University, and a member of University of Oklahoma’s Diabetes Conferences.