Stacy Jantzi, a light for lo­cal autis­tic stu­dents

Yuma Sun - - FRONT PAGE - BY AMY CRAW­FORD SUN STAFF WRITER

Where there is a will … there is a way.

Stacy Jantzi, the 2017 Yuma County Ci­ti­zen of the Year, has found that way for the 1 in 66 chil­dren in the county who have been di­ag­nosed with Autism Spec­trum Dis­or­der.

Jantzi, who is the pro­gram di­rec­tor for the Menta Academy Yuma and a co-founder of the Yuma Autism Com­mu­nity Coali­tion, has been search­ing for that way for many years, said Kathy Bur­well, who nom­i­nated Jantzi for the an­nual honor and pro­vided the statis­tic.

“Af­ter her fam­ily saw first-hand the im­pacts of Autism Spec­trum Dis­or­der (ASD), Stacy felt led to make a pos­i­tive im­pact upon all fam­i­lies with chil­dren di­ag­nosed with special needs,” Bur­well wrote in her nom­i­na­tion let­ter.

“With her un­be­liev­able op­ti­mistic out­look, Stacy be­gan re­search­ing the di­ag­no­sis. Through her re­search, she learned that Ap­plied Be­hav­ior Anal­y­sis (ABA) was one of the most ef­fec­tive means for teach­ing new skills to di­ag­nosed chil­dren,” Bur­well con­tin­ued.

Jantzi also founded Au­someism: Autism Re­de­fined in 2014 and “be­gan to work to cre­ate op­ti­mism and hope for fam­i­lies,” Bur­well wrote. “Her goal was to har­ness the grief of di­ag­no­sis and sup­port the fam­ily or pri­mary care­giver to im­ple­ment proven strate­gies, giv­ing in­di­vid­u­als di­ag­nosed with Autism their great­est op­por­tu­nity for suc­cess.”

Jantzi will soon com­plete a doc­toral de­gree as a board cer­ti­fied be­hav­ior an­a­lyst doc­tor, one of a hand­ful na­tion­wide, said Dr. Elizabeth Con­ran, CEO and Pres­i­dent of the Menta Group, in her nom­i­na­tion let­ter.

Con­ran and Jantzi met sev­eral years ago, when a con­cerned group of Yuma par­ents were search­ing for ser­vices for their chil­dren with autism.

The Menta Academy Yuma opened at Pe­can Grove El­e­men­tary School last fall with 11 stu­dents and con­tin­ues to grow each month, Bur­well wrote. The Menta Academy Yuma uses the Uni­ver­sal De­sign for Learn­ing (UDL) ed­u­ca­tion model frame­work.

In an ar­ti­cle about The Menta Group from July, Jantzi said MAY’s goal is about work­ing col­lab­o­ra­tively with par­ents and school dis­tricts.

“This is ab­so­lutely with­out a doubt how can I serve you so we can serve these stu­dents,” she said at the time.

“Stacy firmly be­lieves that those di­ag­nosed with dis­abil­i­ties have su­per pow­ers... they laugh when no one else does, hug you tighter than you have ever been hugged be­fore, play hap­pily, and love you un­con­di­tion­ally with ev­ery part of their heart and soul,” Bur­well wrote. “Stacy shares that un­con­di­tional love for chil­dren and the Yuma com­mu­nity.”

Con­ran noted that those with the doc­toral de­gree that Jantzi will soon com­plete are “heav­ily re­cruited across the coun­try.”

A mil­i­tary fam­ily, the Jantzis, how­ever, plan to re­tire here af­ter Stacy’s hus­band com­pletes his final year of ser­vice away from Yuma, be­cause the fam­ily be­lieves that “Stacy has found her calling,” Con­ran wrote.

“They be­lieve that to­gether they can make a dif­fer­ence for the chil­dren and fam­i­lies in Yuma,” she said in her let­ter.

“Stacy is a role model for those around her, par­tic­u­larly for those whose lives she touches each day” Bur­well wrote. “She is one of the most op­ti­mistic in­di­vid­u­als that I per­son­ally have ever met. She rec­og­nizes the suc­cesses of each chal­lenge, no mat­ter the size.

“She is a ded­i­cated, com­pas­sion­ate leader who con­tin­ues to im­pact the Yuma com­mu­nity one life at a time.”

Buy this photo at Yu­maSun.com PHOTO BY RANDY HOEFT/YUMA SUN

“AF­TER HER FAM­ILY SAW FIRST-HAND the im­pacts of Autism Spec­trum Dis­or­der (ASD), Stacy felt led to make a pos­i­tive im­pact upon all fam­i­lies with chil­dren di­ag­nosed with special needs,” states the nom­i­na­tion let­ter for Stacy Jantzi, who is the 2017 Yuma...

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