Dusty Dutton – San Rafael, CA
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Dusty Dutton, 33, is a talented and experienced entertainer. She has Down syndrome, and uses her unique sense of humor to bring her hand puppets to life. She has formal training in entertainment for young children, and never fails to bring smiles to their faces. She is available to perform puppet shows at parties and events, large and small.
Dusty is a professional puppeteer and CEO of her own microenterprise, Dusty’s Puppets. She enjoys making presentations to people with disabilities, their families, and professionals, about how her business came to be. She talks about all the steps she took to get started, including organizing meetings of her Circle of Support to help her think about her dreams and her future, taking college classes in children’s theater and business, doing a Feasibility Study, trying out her idea, meeting with a benefits planner, writing a Business Plan, applying for a PASS plan for startup funds, working with a service provider, lining up paid helpers and volunteers, managing and scheduling, and growing the business for the future. All the steps are described and colorfully illustrated in PowerPoint presentations. Dusty has several versions, in various degrees of detail, and can make presentations which last from 15 minutes up to an hour. She likes to end with a short puppet show! (See a short example at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b7Tg-KPps14)
Dusty grew up in Santa Monica, CA, and attended McKinley Elementary, Lincoln Middle School, and Santa Monica High School. Her family members advocated for inclusion, so Dusty spent much of her time in general classes. She especially enjoyed music classes and a child care class, at which she performed puppet shows and read stories to the babies. She then attended the College of Marin, where she took many classes in drama, music, dance, art and business. She then joined a day program and was hired to do a part-time job at a hotel. In 2006, she started her own business, Dusty’s Puppets. She lives with a housemate/Supported Living coordinator and her young daughter.
Dusty is a recipient of the Mary Falvey Outstanding Young Person Award, presented by Cal TASH. She has been elected twice to the Board of Directors of Cal TASH, and belongs to a local Lions Club. Dusty especially likes volunteering for the Ross Valley Players, a local little theater group.
Dusty has presented at Cal TASH conferences and summer institutes several times over the last 15 years, on the following subjects: person-centered planning, going to college, supported living, and starting your own business. She has also presented for the National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disability Services, the California State Council on Developmental Disabilities, the California Association of Regional Center Agencies “New Day” Conference, the Supported Life Institute’s Supported Life Conference, the Chinese Parents of East L.A., the Family Resource Center/Family Empowerment Center of West L.A., Sempre Amigas, the Choices Conference of the Stockton area, the Reinventing Quality conferences in San Diego and Baltimore, Disability Rights CA (PAI), Virginia Commonwealth University’s T-TAP web casts, San Francisco State University, and others.
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